Introduction to VolResource
Access key 5, and access key 0 for Accessibility section.
- About the site and VolResource.
- Finding your way around.
- News and Events pages.
- Accessibility on VolResource, access keys/shortcuts, and basic principles.
- Site Design including known issues with older software.
- Other matters, Deep Linking.
- Background to the sector and effective organisations tries to give some context for the site and how to move forward. New page, needing more work!
- Please see Credits and Copyright page if you wish to reproduce any VolResource material.
- Site Map.
- Searching the site, tackling link problems.
- Glossary of terms used, in the sector and on the site.
- Advertising options on VolResource - on the web and email newsletter.
VolResource aims to provide practical resources for people involved in charities, voluntary or community organisations, making use of communications technology such as this web site and our email newsletter. This site carries briefings, contact information, specialist sources, suppliers and more, with news now on VoluntaryNews. It acts as a portal bringing together basic information on these pages, a wide range of links to relevant web sites for more material alongside tips on key issues and what to look out for elsewhere. You can use VR as a database of contacts.
Whether you are looking for a new membership system, details on who provides training, a basic briefing on legal issues, relevant conferences or anything else to do with making an organisation tick, whether it has fifty paid staff or none, we hope to point you in the right direction. Our starting point is 'what is useful to those relatively new to the sector or a particular aspect of its work?'. While we aim to cover anything to do with running a voluntary organisation, we only touch on fundraising, leaving it to various other well-established web site (see Fundraising on the Net).
All links are checked regularly, using a combination of technology and human judgement, to make sure they are still current. Further updates from users are very welcome. Pages show a date of last update (usually given as the beginning of the week) - this can be a minor or in-depth revision and while we do our best to keep things current we do have limits on time and resources. Note that your computer or internet service provider may have kept local copies of VolResource pages (caching), so if the page date is very old try the browser Refresh or Reload button.
There are 2 basic types of VolResource page:
- Listings mainly give contacts (web links, email, address etc.) and a short description of those providing training, services, products, opportunities or useful information. There also may be some guidance on what issues to think about when selecting suppliers.
- Briefings will have information about the subject in question and links for more resources.
Briefings, including Sample Documents, Topic Reviews and Extras, will generally be reviewed less frequently than Listings.
The site first went live in April 1999 and has been continuously revised since. See Copyright and Credits for more background.
To allow for people coming at an issue from different angles and starting points, we try to give cross-references and alternative routes.
The top bar provides site help, with a link to the front page and search. The search facility isn't as sophisticated as Google and, while it should be effective on the site, the following could get you to useful information quicker:
- Pages have been grouped into Sections. See the Site Menu on the left hand column for links to the associated Section Index pages (sub-site maps). Many pages have a trail bar under the banner to give quick navigation within a section.
- There is also a comprehensive page listing, or site map, although this can get out-of-date.
- See the top section of most pages ('Follow the Trail') for quick links to page contents, plus pointers to connected, overlapping or confusing areas.
- See Search/Links page for some advice on finding registered charities, local organisations or those covering a particular specialist issue.
External links (to other organisations' web sites) should no longer open in a new browser window - we've changed this as it is not considered good practice. If you want, you can open new windows (or tabs) with a 'right click' in most modern browsers.
The main content areas of VolResource show web links underlined, unless your browser has this switched off, but the navigation menus may only show an underline when your cursor/mouse is on them.
Currently, volresource.org.uk and volresource.co.uk are interchangeable in locating a page. The dot org dot uk style is preferred.
See the VoluntaryNews website. Here, items can be grouped in more than one way at the same time:
- By Category (news group). Such as Finance, Management & Admin, Personnel & Volunteers - a rough correspondence to typical job functions.
- By Region/Location. English regions, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Eire/Europe, International.
- Niche/Issue. Organisation activity areas or issue focus - care, rights, community or rural focus, housing and so on.
- Events can also be viewed by date.
- You can add your own organisation's news, as well as events and vacancies - do note that the target audience is those involved in voluntary and community organisations rather than the general public. See the VoluntaryNews About page for more.
The use of Style Sheets (see Site Design) is an integral part of current accessibility standards. Frames or graphics for navigation or structure can be problematic for those using screen readers, with poor eyesight or other access issues, and have been avoided.
When we check other web sites, obvious accessibility problems are noted and a hash sign # put against entries (assuming they otherwise meet our criteria for inclusion). Poor use of colours or contrast, no alternative to Flash or graphics for navigation or information, or 'Internet Explorer only' requirements are some issues which tend to get the thumbs down.
NB We have stopped developing our use of 'Access Keys' but they are likely still to be available on the VolResource site.
Access keys, while not well known, are recommended to allow easier navigation for those who have difficulties with using a mouse. This selects key web links by pressing 'alt' ('ctrl' on Macs) and the relevant character (see below). Depending on your browser software, you may then need to press Enter for the link to activate. Some browsers (Opera?, Netscape 6) don't implement access keys at all.
Government guidelines for its own web sites have been used as a starting point, but other popular sites (e.g. BBC) have also acted as a guide. The government guide is [in brackets] where we deviate:
- S - Skip navigation*.
- 0 - Access key details (this section).
- 1 - Front (home) page.
- 2 - Skip to site menu [What's New]*.
- 3 - Site map, or on News and Events pages, the 'site map' for that section.
- 4 - Search.
- 5 - About the Site (this page) [FAQ].
- 6 - News Front page [Help].
- 7 - Email newsletter [Complaints procedure].
- 8 - Disclaimer [Terms and conditions].
- 9 - Response or Events Form [Feedback form/Contact].
* These won't work in Internet Explorer.
Links to specific section front page or facilities on VolResource:
- a - Taking Action.
- c - Areas of Concern.
- i - Information Resources.
- j - Job vacancies.
- m - Management, Admin, Finance.
- p - People Matters.
- t - Software and Technology.
- u - Suppliers/Service providers.
Do let us know if the above is useful or needs to be improved in some way. Note: some very old pages on VolResource may not use access keys.
The site should meet XHTML 1.0 (Transitional) code standards, style sheet/CSS files should also meet standards (level 2). Some very old pages may not comply. We try to keep things simple and lean, to keep download and processing times as short as possible, and any technical complexities have to earn their keep.
The site is designed around the use of Style Sheets (CSS) - most web browsers now work with these. However, those with older browser programs, especially Netscape (up to version 4.7), will see a fairly crude layout. As we've seen use of these drop from around 10% of visitors to about 3% (at early 2006), we think it's time to move on. We recommend switching to Firefox, the open source browser.
Other known issues: Netscape 6 ignorance of access keys appears to mess up the top bar rather badly. Internet Explorer on Mac - we hope we've fixed problems here, but text may appear lower down the screen than it should.
The following shorthand has been used to indicate some quality aspects of a linked site, although with the growth of the site (and technology changes) this is no longer properly maintained:
- An 'uparrow' ^ against an external link indicates what we feel to be excessive page download times caused by graphics and/or scripts (or ^* if we think it is worth it).
- Two asterisks** indicate frequent checking by us (not used as much as it was in the early days!).
This terms refers to the practice of linking to a web site beyond its home page. We do this quite a lot, to make it easier for users to find relevant information and contacts. It is not our intention to infringe copyright or "pass off" material as our own. However if any web site operator has a concern about our links, they should get in touch and we will do our best to resolve the issue.
Style sheets allow a special version for print purposes. Assuming we've updated the particular page, this should 'clean up' the presentation so that site menus disappear and links in the content body are made visible (but not in all browsers). For some pages with fixed size graphics (diagrams etc), you may need to set your printer to Landscape setting, rather than Portrait - or use shrink to fit if you have this.
Information requested in response forms or sent via emails is only used to provide the related service or in analysis of aggregate usage.
We do not send spam or commercial emails. However, spammers are getting very good at "spoofing" where email comes from. We only send out from a limited number of email addresses, so if you receive anything which appears to be from us, but starts with info, webinfo, listing, news or consult (and some old ones we can't remember) you can guarantee it is spam, or worse.