Westwood Parish Council website

The present website was established in 2008. It has been designed to enable new material to be uploaded and published by logging in to a content management system (CMS) CuteNews was selected as being especially suitable for the publication of news. The advantage of being able to add material online is that responsibility for including new articles does not have to depend on the website designer and is safer than editing web pages in an editor. Editing web pages in an editor also requires specialist knowledge and takes more time than using a CMS.

Parish council website content

A parish council website must almost by definition include access to the proceedings of the council. The documents must include: minutes of meetings, agendas for meetings, details of how to contact councillors and the parish clerk, and information about the parish and news. For further information see: Information about Town and Parish councils

Links to PDF files or real web pages

Many council websites publish their minutes and other documents using links to PDF files (Portable document Format). Whilst the PDF format is excellent for printing documents, particularly long documents it is not considered suitable for online access. Users don't like encountering a PDF file while they are browsing because it interrupts their flow and because standard browser commands don't work, even simple actions such as printing or saving files are not that easy. Also, PDF layouts are often optimized for a sheet of paper, which hardly ever matches the size of the browser window of the user. Even more, PDF is difficult to navigate so it is important to switch any information that must be browsed or read on the screen into real web pages. For more information see: Top 10 Mistakes in Web Design The link is to Jacob Neilson's usability website: Evidence-Based User Experience Research, Training, and Consulting. (Neilson Norman group). He considers the use of PDF as a substitute for real web pages as Number 2 in the Top Ten Web Design Mistakes.

Website development

The Westwood site now has over 102 real pages, this excludes pdf, jpg and text pages [14th Oct 2014]. The older Frontpage table based layout has been replaced by a CSS controlled modern website. A complete revision has been undertaken as the increasing use of wide LCD displays has meant that the width of textual material has become excessive as displayed on modern displays. There are very good reasons why newspapers use columns of narrow text but they can be too narrow to read comfortably. However, a web page is not a newspaper page and there has to be some compromises on the appearance of published content. A text column should be no wider than about 20 words. Obviously At this width the user may decide to zoom in or accept the website's text default size. I have set paragraph text size to 12 pixels but font size to 100 per cent to enable users to alter the displayed size of text.

The location of articles

The display size has been altered from a semi-fluid arrangement which had started to look odd with some wasted spaces and excessively wide text for the central column single column pages and three column pages. The display width has now been altered to fit on a 1280 pixel width display. The minutes and agenda pages have been designed to fit in a single column page. Other pages have a classic three column layout which allows for the inclusion of a variety of "boxes" in which different categories of material to be published can be placed. The central column can accommodate photos, posters and embedded video. A Search button on the Home page can find, for example "photos" or any other keyword.

Will news be deleted?

Since each webpage only displays x number of articles, older news becomes readable only by using the Next Previous page links at the bottom of each page. Some pages may only display one news item or article. If news is of little historic value it maybe deleted. Since older news doesn't distract from newer news there is no need to delete news. Parish council related news: agendas, minutes and Councillor list will not be deleted. For speed of access it may be desirable to archive news at present this is not necessary. Requests to remove news will be carefully considered. For ease of access I have decided to publish collected Minutes of council meetings annually. When I do this I may delete the CuteNews entries. Please bear this in mind when searching for news.

CuteNews Content Management system (CMS)

CuteNews is a remarkably useful way to add news to a webpage. Unlike a blog Cutenews can be used to add articles of news to any part of a web page. Cutenews is used to publish news from various categories in any place on any page, including multiple pages and categories. Westwood's installation is unregistered this means that Cutenews is unlicensed and a message will be displayed stating that the CMS is unregistered but the extra cost of registering the software. currently 40 is not necessary unless one wants the Powered by Cutenews message removed. Therefore,Cutenews is free if the website owners are happy to display a Powered by Cutenews message.


The RSS button (Really Simple Syndication) allows users to become instantly aware of newly published material without visiting and searching the website. I use SharpReader which works ok on Windows, XP & 7. Not  Windows 10. Firefox Live Bookmark Feed works ok on 10.

Cookies:Privacy and Security

The website does collect user statistics (from Statcounter) this requires the use of cookies but no personal identifying data is collected.

The Contact form sends user queries to the parish clerk and others and does that via a connection to the website server, this is safe from interception. Links to other websites and folders are not permitted in the Contact form. Other material may be emailed to the parish clerk or the editor.

This particular installation of CuteNews is set to only allow the editor access to the news. The website CMS has the option to comment on the news but is disabled.  Westwood Parish Council website has no features that an e-commerce website must have to securely protect: credit card handling of goods and services that would be paid for by a user for, example an application to sell car insurance or buy shopping.

No personal data is stored of the visitor to the website. What is stored are pages that are visited and the time spent on a particular page and whether a visitor returns to the site  This information can be viewed in greater detail by following the link below to Website Stats on the Statcounter website. All the visitor to Westwood Parish Council may do is read the news provided for the public, or use the Contact form. All the news consists of are documents produced for the general public, mainly minutes of meetings of the parish council.   It follows that an encryption requiring an SSL Certificate is NOT required. 

Website stats Visits and other stats

Submitting news

The parish council website welcomes news. There is no reason to wait till the Westwood Update is published but news should also be submitted to the Update. Photographs are welcome but permission might need to be sought for photographs that include people in them.


Suggestions are most welcome :)

Geoff Edwards   Article updated 1/2/2020

NB the background colour of this page is white. If it doesn't look white to you then your display may need adjusting. Also the text is black

Website Update 2018

Please note. As previously mentioned news material is added as received and placed into various categories.

As far as practical copy is amended to conform to current standards. Please save time by not underlining words. On a website underlining is only used for identifying links to other pages. Headings should not be set to capital letters and only to Heading 2. Heading 1 is reserved for webpage titles and sometimes for major sections.

Westwood PC website runs under CuteNews 1.4.6 and owing to the amount of content that has been published the site needs upgrading to CuteNews 2+. Earlier versions of CuteNews have a memory issue that has been rectified in versions 2+. Unfortunately, this is not a straight forward task as there are several issues with later versions of CuteNews that have not been resolved by the suppliers yet.  Apart from the memory limit that affects CuteNews 1.4.6 the software is fast and runs under most browsers (from the point of view of users of the software to add items).

All the news contributor has to do after logging in to the system is to select Add News and add a title, select a category, copy and paste a news item from a source, e.g. Microsoft Word and save the news. It is the categories that determine where the news is published. When the website is designed decisions are made as to where new items are placed.  The website pages are created according to the requirements of the client.  For a parish council there should be separate pages for each month for minutes and agendas. Additional pages will depend on the needs of the parish or town council.

Smaller councils may prefer to just have their agendas and minutes published as PDF files.

Article published: 31 Jul 2018 geoff edwards
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Today's date: 21/05/2022