Your project

We aim to give all community heritage projects useful advice, whether or not you end up using our software. So please contact us.  We’ve provided some basic information below, but it’s always best to have a quick chat on the phone in the first instance, so we can find out a bit more about your plans and explain the options available.

How much will it cost?
It is really important to talk to us before making any assumptions about cost, as our free advice will help you clarify what you want to achieve, and how to best achieve it. We can sometimes help projects which only have several hundred pounds available. However, most of our projects are in the range of £3,000 – £6,000 plus VAT. They are usually funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. We also carry out bespoke projects in response to tenders. The budgets for these tend to be much higher, ranging from £10,000 to £75,000.  

How long will it take?
We can usually set up a site very quickly, at least to the point where you can start adding content. We could roll out a site in weeks. But typically, most projects have a timescale of 3-9 months until launch.

What will you do for us?
Typically, we provide a package of services that include the set-up of the site, training, graphic design, hosting, and a maintenance contract. Some projects require additional software facilities, like an online catalogue, shop or message-board. Some require custom software development or importing data.

What about hosting and maintenance?
We usually host and maintain the sites ourselves, often for many years. Lots of our clients pay for this up-front, using their initial project budget to cover the costs for 3-5 years. If you want to host a site yourself, that’s also possible. However, we can’t provide our usual low-cost maintenance contract for a website that’s hosted elsewhere, because we wouldn’t have full control over the server on which the site is hosted.

What happens if you go out of business?
We set up new sites with open-source software, so that if we disappear you find another supplier. We also provide special facilities so you can export the data from our websites and catalogues at any time. Our servers are backed up every 24 hours.

Do I need a website or an online catalogue - or both?
It’s best to phone us about this and talk it through. Some heritage projects simply want to publish and share content online in a free-form way, often encouraging the general public to also submit comments, photos or memories (subject to approval). Other heritage projects want to organise their collections in a way which is consistent with the methods used by museums and archives and to present the resulting catalogue online. We can help you think through which approach is best in your circumstances.
Why choose CommunitySites?
We like to think we have special expertise in our field. That field is community heritage. We know about heritage standards: things like cataloguing, oral history, and copyright. We also know about working with communities: working with non-technical people, creating easy-to-use software, supporting volunteer groups. So most people who work with us feel that they’re in safe, experienced hands.
What software do you use?
Nowadays, we build our websites and catalogues using open-source software. This is software that’s created by the collective efforts of volunteer programmers all round the world, much like Wikipedia is created by volunteer editors. You may have heard of some open-source software, such as WordPress or Drupal. The great advantage of open-source software is that you’re not dependent on us in the long-term: if we vanish, your website is still stored on a widely-used platform that lots of other people can take over and work with. That’s why the Heritage Lottery Fund and other funders prefer projects to use open-source software.

Can you provide a quote to support our funding bid?
Yes, we do this a lot. As well as providing a written quotation, we can also provide advice to make your funding bid stronger. Find out how our sites help you meet the Heritage Lottery Fund digital guidelines.

We don't want to use your software, but what advice can you give us?
Here’s one golden rule. Whatever software you use, please make sure it’s got an Export button. Many heritage projects in the past have put content into software which is now obselete, and they now can’t get it out. You need to be able to export your content into a neutral format such as CSV or XML, and you need to be able to get at your files (e.g. uploaded images).
What about social media?
Social media is a great way of promoting your project and providing another display for your collections. We can hook up your website with social media in a variety of ways. However, one word of caution: a social media site on its own isn’t a great way for groups to create a lasting historical resource. That’s because there’s no central export button: you can sometimes export your own content, but most social media sites contain content uploaded by different people.

What should I do now?
Get in touch and we’ll arrange a quick phone-call. You’ll find the phone-call is useful, even if you don’t make use of our services.