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Site History and Updates Archive

Conception to Launch

  • circa. March 2002: Conversation with a friend at school about feeders into the Conference sparks research on the internet. Fail to find a site which shows the feeder system in sufficient detail. However, one site gives an skeleton of the feeder system, which provides inspiration.
  • March-June 2002:
    • Taking inspirational site as my starting point, I create a new version of it, expanding and adding to it.
    • The single page structure section is therefore the oldest part of the site. It was originally was in a list/sub-list format. (Similar to this page)
    • From day one I resolved to build in links to official league sites
    • I realise early on that an index to the leagues was essential, and so compiled one. The 'location tags' were included in the intial version.
    • 22nd March: An early print-out shows that on this date, the site has 92 leagues, having started with 33. An old file modified six days late shows the site as having 101 leagues.
    • Lacking internet access at home, all work on the site was done at school. When I left school after my A-levels, I transferred all files to the computer at home
  • June 2002: By this point, the site had 107 leagues.
  • July - September 2002: Over the summer holidays, I redesigned the site so that it was table-based rather than list based. Apart from the colour scheme, the apearence of the single page structure section has not changed since then
  • Late September 2002: I head off to university. Work on the site is halted.
  • Mid-October 2002:
    • Following a request sent home, the site's files are emailed to me via someone elses computer. Despite their sparten nature, I decide to put them online.
    • My chief reason was a lack of any sites offering comprehensive detail of the National League Sytem's structure. Also, few sites give links to league sites.
    • The site has just two pages: league index, and single page structure
    • At this point, 101 leagues are listed, going as far down as level 12.
  • 20th October 2002: The site is launched. I resolve to keep researching for new leagues until I am certain that all leagues listed as having no feeders definately do not have any.
  • 22nd October 2002: The home page is added.
  • 29th October 2002: Work begins on the sectioned structure pages. A colour scheme is used to better distinguish between levels. The location tags in the league index are made into links to the relevent section.
  • 30th October 2002:
    • The number of recorded leagues is 178. They go down as far as level 20, although the single page structure section was coded in a way that made leagues below level 15 problematic.
    • The sectioned structure pages are launched, with each level 8 league commanding its own page.
    • The total number of pageson the site is now 16.
    • No league has yet been found below level 20.
  • 31st October 2002: I sign up to AddFreeStats.com (AFS), which provides detailed statistics on visitors. AFS has proved invaluable for optimising the site.

Rest of 2002

  • 14th November: Work begins on an update to the single page structure section, with the current colour coding for each level. It goes through numerous changes before an efficient way of obtaining the desired effect. It allows for leagues down to level 24.
  • 30th November:
    • I add graphics to the site: the title picture, plus graphical links to the three main pages for navigation. The latter proves unsatisfactory, and is dropped.
    • I also sign up to a website promotion scheme. Although unqiue visitors increase 350%, AFS showed that most would spend about 30 seconds on the home page, and then leave. The scheme is later dropped.
  • 1st December: The new colour-scheme is launched, with frames and a toolbar now being used for navigation. In accordance with site hosting rules, a non-frame homepage is made availble.
  • 4th December: A seperate page is added listing feeders to the level 11 Hampshire League, after new feeders cannot be included on the page for the level 8 Wessex League page.
  • 5th December: A seperate page is added listing feeders to the level 11 West Sussex League for similar reasons, splitting it off from the Sussex County League page. The seperate page is later made defunct, and merged back with the original.
  • 9th December: The site passes the 1,000 visitors mark, having taken less than 50 days.

2003

  • 14th January: The site passes the 2,000 visitors mark, 36 days after reaching 1,000
  • 2nd Febuary: The number of recorded leagues is now 274, going down as far as level 20.
  • 5th Febuary: The Essex Intermediate League feeders are spilt off from the Ryman League (Div 2) page. (Both pages are now defunct)
  • 11th Febuary: I make my worse decision yet, and add a marquee in the toolbar listing all the leagues on the site.
  • 15th Febuary: The site passes the 3,000 visitors mark, 32 days after reaching 2,000.
  • 17th March: The site passes the 4,000 visitors mark, 30 days after reaching 3,000
  • 15th April: The site passes the 5,000 visitors mark, 28 days after reaching 4,000
  • 26th April: The seperate main and 'sections' toolbars are mereged, with the marquee dropped. At the same time, all content is re-jigged to work in one frame, making maintainence easier, and improving non-frame access.
  • 3rd May: The site's best seven day peroid so far ends, with 323 distinct visitors having visted the site. This record last over four months.
  • 11th May:
    • The site passes the 6,000 visitors mark, 26 days after reaching 5,000.
    • The site now has 295 leagues spread over 20 levels, with more than half are in levels 10, 11, 12 and 13.
    • My official esitmate for the number of leagues in the Pyramid is now 320-340.
  • 11th May: Updated the League Index so that clicking on a league's name would take you to the relevent part of the Single page Pyramid Structure. This involved placing 295 anchor name tags. Also began research into having the pages database driven, and affordable web-hosting. (These pages are hosted by my university, and there will come a time when I leave. By then I will need the pages hosted elsewhere).
  • 17th May: Decided to have this 'What's New' page, running it for a month before putting it online. I also added a brief history of the site, above. I decided to put the most recent news item on the homepage, with a link to this page.
  • 18th May:
    • Redesigned the bottom half of the Home page. The aim is to present the information on a more concise and clear way. Extensive use of bullet points is made.
    • Also made minor alterations Kent League feeders page. Table is fixed at 780 pixels wide, as the 100% width looked silly at high resolutions.
    • Split off feeders to the Surrey County Snr League onto a seperate page. Also discovered said league has a division 1, and include this new information. the rest of the sie is updated accordingly. Site now has 20 active pages.
    • Finally, added a link to this page to take users to the bottom.
  • 19th May:
    • Redesigned the top half of the Home page to ensure that links and poll on whether or not to include details of the Welsh pyramid are sensibley displayed.
    • This page went active. From this point, site history used the present tense.
    • The site's best 28-day peroid yet ends, with 1,117 distinct visitors to the site.
  • 24th May: Analysis of site's traffic reports reveals well over half of visitors continues to enter the site on a non-home page. (Principally due to search engines linking directly to the individual pages.). Concieve use of a java-script based toolbar, with each page sourcing a seperate java-script file. The script is in a seperate file for ease of maintainence. This is to ensure that visitors are easily able to access all pages of the site, no matter what their entry page. Research starts on exactly how to achieve this.
  • 25th May: Work continues on the script for the toolbar, hindered by my lack of experience with java. By the end of the day, the important bits have been written.
  • 26th May: Finish writing toolbar, and launch it on site. The following week will reveal its success or otherwise.
  • 18th June: The site passes the 7,000 visitors mark, 38 days after reaching 6,000. This is the first increase in the number days for a thousand visitors. The early part of June has been bad, but things are picking up again.
  • 3rd July: The inter-season lull continues, with visitors running between one and two thirds of their normal levels. It is hoped that numbers will pick up again once the football seaon resumes. No further updates to the site are planned until October.
  • 24th July: The site passes the 8,000 visitors mark, 36 days after reaching 7,000.
    • Work continues offline on the site, as server uploads will be impossible until October.
    • A number of pages are updated, most notably the Ryman League feeders page. This follows an email from the vice-chairman of one of the feeder leagues, which reveals that the feeder situation is more complicated than originally thought.
    • Some of the early history in this site is altered, following the discovery of old files on my computer at home.
    • A hyperlink checking utility is used to find out many league links are still valid. Although the number seemed quite small, most failures were due to one website no longer being operational. Otherwise, the percentage of broken links was very small (around 3%). These broken links are either replaced or removed.
  • 25th August: The site passes the 9,000 visitors mark, 32 days after reaching 8,000.
  • 3rd September: The site's best seven day peroid so far ends, with 340 distinct visitors having visted the site.
  • 14th September: The site's best 28-day peroid so far ends, with 1,149 distinct visitors having visted the site. The site's visitor numbers are booming
  • 15th to 29th September: The 28-day record is broken every day, standing at 1,412 unique visitor's on the 29th.
  • 16th September: The site records its 10,000th visitor, just 22 days after reaching 9,000 visitors. This takes four days off the previous record for 1,000 visitors.
  • 18th September: The site's best seven-day peroid ends, with 345 distinct visitors.
  • 19th to 26th September: The seven-day record is borken every day, standing at 435 distinct visitors on the 26th.
  • 1st October: Large update of the site. Changes include:
  • 3rd October: The site records its 11,000th visitor, 17 days after the 10,000th. This takes five days off the previous record for 1,000 visitors.
  • 4th October: The 7-day record is broken again, to stand at 476.
  • 10th October: The site now has 22 pages. The number of leagues stands at 302. I begin a systematic check of leagues listed as having no feeders, to see if this is definately the case.
  • 11th October: The 28-day record is broken for the eighth time in nine days, reaching 1,635.
  • 17th October: Again, the 28-day record gets broken, to stand at 1,639 unique visitors.
  • 20th October: The site's first year draws to an end, with its 11,882nd unique visitor.
    • The site has had 46,631 pages views
    • Visitors have recorded from places all over the world, including Irzq, Venezuela and Costa Rica.
    • Outside the UK, the most popular countries have been Australia and Singapore.
    • Short-term plans include continued checking of bottom leagues, and a compact version of the league index.
    • Medium-term plan is to switch the site to being database driven. Intial research into this is planned for December
    • Long-plans include doing the pyramids for Welsh, Scottish and (English) Women's football, and possibly English Rugby Union.
    • By summer 2006, the site must be moved onto an commercial host.
  • 22nd October: The site records its 12,000th visitor, 19 days after the 11,000th.
  • 24th October: The Ladder Service is introduced. It provides free of charge a page to any club or league, showing its position in The Pyramid.
  • 25th October: Purchase domain name thepyramid.info, along with a hosting plan. The hosting plan offers ample scope for growth in traffic and site size.
  • 26th October:
    • Spend several hours uploading and configuring site on new server.
    • Now have new email address for the site - tom@thepyramid.info.
    • Design new title graphic.
    • The seven-day record is rebroken, reaching 290 unique visitors
  • 30th October: Both the 30-day and the 7-day record get broken, standing at 1,699 and 504 unique visitors respectivly.
  • 31st October: Break up the History & updates page into more managable sections.
  • 3rd November: Design a new hompage layout, with a toolbar down the side. The toolbar works on te same basis as the top one. Also move all the links to other sites onto a seperate page.
  • 5th November: Visitor number 13,000 arrives, just two weeks after the 12,000th visitor.
  • 6th November: Create an additional short league index, which doesn't show every division. The aim to to produce a page which is quicker loading, and easier to use. Also fix bug in homepage that was causeing it display incorrectly.
  • 12th November: Create a new section, detailing the restructuring of the pyramid that'll take place after the 2003/4season. Also modify toolbars accordingly.
  • 15th November: The page that shows how the top ninel levels of the pyramid will be from the 2005/5 season is made narrower, so that it include the left-hand toolbar.
  • 15th November: Visitor number 14,000 arrives, just two weeks after the 13,000th visitor.
  • 25th November: I now know that over 50% of the bottom leagues (those shown as having no feeders), are definately so. I only have another 30 to go. I am hampered by a lack of websites for some, and lack of responce form other leagues.
  • 26th November: Email a number of county FA secretaries to try and find websites where I know of none. In some cases, I am informed that thereis now website, so I ask for league details. I also put in a meta tag describing the site's contents for the benefit of search engines. (Google, though which the site gets a high proportion of its visitors, is now shoing the contents of these tags).
  • 27th November: I email all the league secretaries of the level 8 leagues to confirm their feeder leagues. This follows an email to the Untied Counties league asking for the website a league which proved not exsist! Also tweak homepage, to make latest additions more prominent, and the site's 'mission statement ("Details of the composition....") a bit less obtrusive.
  • 2nd December: The previous 27 days have seen a record 2,020 visitors.
  • 3rd December: Visitor number 15,000 arrives, just two weeks after the 14,000th visitor.

2004

  • 6th January: Having spent the past few days designing a toolbar for the left-hand side incorprating links to evry page on the side, I then start the long process of implementing it for every page on the site. Like the toolbars before it, it uses Java-script to access a single file for evey page. However, every page must be changed to allow for the new layout. It ishoped that this sidebar will be the lasting way of navigatin the site.
  • Visitor 17,000 arrives on the 3rd (17 days after number 16,000), number 18,000 on the 16th, and number 19,000 on the 28th. A new record of just 12 days for 1,000 visitors is set.
  • Over the second half of the month, research takes place into the structure of the Womens' Football Pyramid in England.
  • 2nd Febuary: Women's football pyramid section is made active.
  • Visitor number 20,000 arrives on the 11th, 14 days after number 19,000. Will now state only every 5,000th visitor on here.
  • Spring 2004: Very little has happened to this site since the end of January. However, plenty of site records were broken. Some raw statistics:
    • 21,000th visitor: 24th Febuary
    • 22,000th visitor: 4th March
    • 23,000th visitor: 16th March
    • 24,000th visitor: 29th March
    • 25,000th visitor: 10th April
    • 26,000th visitor: 20th April
    • 27,000th visitor: 28th April
    • 28,000th visitor: 6th May
    • 29,000th visitor: 12th May - just six days for 1,000 visitors - a record!
    • 30,000th visitor: 20th May
    • Best single day: 10nd May - 254 unique visitors
    • Best seven days: 18st to 15th May - 1024 visitors, a mean of 146.3/day
    • Best twenty-eight days: 14th April to 18st May - 3732 visitors, a mean of 133.3/day
    • Best ever month: May 2004 - 3,575 unique visitors taking 21,689 page views.
  • Autumn 2004 Unfortunately, work commitments are preventing much progress on the site. I am currently working towards having the main sections of the site generated by a database. (The files would still be HTML, it's just I won't have writteing in all the details by hand). I also need replies to lots of the emails I have sent out.
  • September 9th: The site's 40,000th visitor.
  • September 14th: Added a page giving the history of Promotion to/Relegation from the Football League. Had problems thinking up a concise title to go on the toolbar. According to AFS, which provides usage statisitcs for the site, this is my 50th page.
  • September 15th: Added a break-down by club on the FL Admission History page
  • October 20th: The site's second year draws to an end, with its 46,664th unique visitor, and the site has now 183,094 pages views. The site now has 46 pages on a range of topics. A quick review of my long term goals from this point last year:
    • Checking of bottom leagues: About 55% done, with the remaing 45% mostly due to people not resonding to emails, or myself not being able to someone to email.
    • A compact version of the league index.: Done, it's here
    • Switch the site to being database driven: Research continues. My lack of exprience witjh databases is the main problem. I intend to seek assitance form those who know more about such things.
    • Pyramids for Welsh, Scottish and (English) Women's football, and possibly English Rugby Union.: Have only done Women's pyramid
    • The site must be moved onto an commercial host by summer 2006: Done.
  • November 15th: The site's 50,000th visitor, 745 days after the site was launched. Going from zero to 10,000 vsitors took 321 days, whilst goign from 40,000 to 50,000 only 71 days.
  • November 19th: Split up the FL Admission History page so that the histories by year and by club are on their own pages.

2005

  • Febuary 7th: Work on clearing backlog of 'To Do' list.
  • Febuary 9th: Have now confirmed that every league at level 11 or above listed as having no feeders has none. This doesn't mean the pyramid is complete to this level, as I don't know I have all feeders, but it is an important step. At the time of writing, of the 84 leagues listed as having no feeders, 35 (41%) are confirmed as such.
  • Febuary 10th: The number of leagues listed on the site has now surpassed 400.
  • Febuary 15th: Begin work on a databased version of the site using Excel. The aim is to automatically generate the three pages that change with every update - single page structure, the full index and the short index
  • Febuary 25th: Databasing complete, results go live on the site. However, sectioned bits of structure still need updating. Also need to generate a private page to show which leagues are unconfirmed/confirmed as having no feeders.
  • Febuary 26th: Go through all sectioned pages to ensure they agree with rest of site.
  • Febuary 28th: Use database to generate a list of leagues listed as having no feeders, and which haven't been confirmed as such. Begin emailing all such leagues
  • March 1st: Finish emailing all unconfirmed bottom leagues, apart form those with no known website, or no contact email given.
  • May 11th: I've now confirmed that all leagues at level 12 or above listed as having no feeders definately have none. I need to email all leagues at levels 10 to 12 to confirm their details. There are now just 33 leagues listed as having no feeders where this status hasn't been confirmed. Of these 33, there are 8 with no email address on their website, 7 have no website, 2 I have reason to belive don't exsist (!), and the remaining 16 have all been emailed at some point.
  • The summer was mostly spent continueing to verify details, rather than searching out new leagues.

2006

  • The New year brought an appeal for donations in attempt to raise enough cash to pay the hosting charges for the site. This combined with a new advertising deal (subject to confirmation) should yield enough cash. While doing a mock-up of the front-page with advert, I realised that the page links on the front page (which are done manually, rather than through some JavaScript) were diffrent from the rest of the site (which uses the JavaScript) - to teh extent that several newer pages were not linked from the front page. This was hastily corrected.
  • 5th January: Re-did site history pages from top to bottom. Merged little pages into one page giving all site history and archived updates. Also created an About page. These lead to tweaking of the links (front page and JavaScript). In addition, while creating the 'About' page, I added the title image (now at the top of this page) and liked is so much, I added it to other pages.
  • 6th January: Added title graphic to almost all opther pages... I have not done the sectioned structure p[ages, as these are crowded enough already.
  • 16th January: Added maps on 2006 restrucuting page showing geographic distribution of old and new leagues at levels 7 and 8. Also got changed red to yellow in level 6 and 7 maps, for the benfit of those with colour blindness.
  • 1st May: I have now emailed the remaing leagues with bottom division at level 11. However, this will not enable me to say the Pyramid is correct down to lvel 11, due to the leagues with non-bottom divisions at level 11. So, I will now be working my way through leagues on the basis of their top division.
  • 4th May: Today I finished emailing all leagues with their top division at levels 11 to 13, with the exception of the South Western League and the Dorset Senior League (no email contact on their websites). Currentlty awaiting replies from 20 leagues. Space constrictions have resulted in re-fromating Full Index into a single column showing section names, and changeing the Quick index so it showed section codes.
  • 5th May: Received a number of emails today confirming the situation with various leagues (and also one correction). Updarted list below accordingly.
  • 26th May: Emailed the remainging leagues I could hasn't contacted yet, apart from 8 with no known website, and 5 with no email on their site. (Seriously, if you have a website, an email contact is easy enough).
  • June: Work on the site goes on hold due to final year university exams and post-exam activities.
  • 18th July: Start work on ClubBase, which involves getting a list of clubs for each league, and compiling their post codes and websites (if any). Some league websites make this straightforward, others more difficult.
  • 19th July: Having compiled the first few leagues, I start work on the LeagueMap. I end up with a working map, but one which requires a seperate XMl file for each and every division.
  • 20th July: Manage to use a single ASP file to produce the XML for a given division on request.
  • 25th July: Try to get map to use custom markers, but limited success. Set myself target of launching LeagueMap on 1st August, with at least 1,000 clubs included. Total stands at ~750 from 40 divisions.
  • 28th July: A comment on Wikipedia makes me realise that the section pages need checking through. It turns out that they haven't bene updated since May 2005. Do first half-dozen
  • 29th July: Update remaining section pages.
  • 31st July: Finish adding features of LeagueMap. Page goes public at 11pm; start work on adding remaining level 9 / 10 leagues.
  • 11th September: The LeagueMap has proved a great success through out August, becoming the most popular page on the site after the two main sructure pages. Also started re-emailing unrepsonsive leagues. (See below).
  • 15th September: All clubs in a division at level 10 or above have now been added into the database behind the LeagueMap. (Any league with a division at level 10 or higher wll have had all its division added). There are now over 1300 teams across 75 divisions in the database. Adding all leagues with a top division at level 11 will add a further 111 divisions containg an esitmated 1400+ teams.
  • 16th September: Having finished (re-)emailing a bunch of leagues, the replis start to come in. The Harroagte & District needs to be removed, while there are conflicting messages regardng the West Riding League's supposed feeders. Decide to launch ClubBase when all the level 11 leagues have been added.
  • 19th September: Following some more repsonses from various leagues, the total number of unconfirmed is now down to 26. A reply from one particular league would resolve the status of five of these; 12 others have yet to reply, and I have no way of contacting the remaining nine (See below). Also re-jigged the content of this page into something a bit more logical.
  • 1st October: Have removed a bunch of leagues that were all thought to have fed one particulart league, following various emails. Need to upload updated versions of structure, and go through sectioned structure pages... again.
  • 31st October: Resume work on ClubBase / LeagueMap, adding in the Anglian Combination (before realising that its status is currently unconfirmed). Also create the version of the ClubBase page that will be public, using ASP. Only 30 more level 11 leagues to go...
  • 1st November: Finally resolve status of a number of leagues via the most unlikely of sources.
  • 2nd November: Discover my hosting company allows one to set up a guestbook (using phpBook) at the click of a button. I do so, then spend several hours customising it to fit the site, armed with some very basic knowledge of PHP. Am dismayed to discover that the creator thought the plural of comment was comment's. Eventually track down error. (For other users of phpBook: it's at line 18 of english.php in the languages folder).
  • 3rd November: Decide to email several leagues about club post codes because they don't have them on their website.
  • 4th November: Implement a number of minor changes (mostly league websites) on the full structure page, plus updates to the league indexes. Also, I now have sufficient capital to invest in the Pyramid Poster project. I just need to confirm file format and payment details with the printer, and make absolutly sure the payment section works correctly.
  • 7th November: Make some changes to left-hand side toolbar to do with placement of links. Also remove old FA Cup/Trophy/Vase links, and add link to leagues per level section on stats page. The latter is expanded with an overview of relevant items. In a seperate devlopment, have had mixed respone form leagues emailed about post codes. One provided me with a complete list (very useful), one forwarded my request to membre clubs (post codes still coming in), and others have yet to respond.
  • 8th December: Add deatils of the FA's Ground Grades. Feedback has been very positve.
  • 20th December: Realise this page hasn't been updated in ages. Work on site generally (and the LeagueMap in particular) has slowed considerably due to time demands of searching for a full-time job; various part-time occupations; and the deasire to ensure my free time isn't just spent in front of a computer. However the site's visitor figures continue to improve:
    • Daily unique visitors for the last six weeks are up 43% on the same peroid last year.
    • The first two weeks of December averaged 206 unique visitors per day, up from 131 for the same peroid in 2005.
    • The site received 32,619 page views in November, including over 7,500 for the Full Structure and over 5,000 for the home page. This is up from 28,885 for Novemebr 2005.
    • The site is on course to have had over 70,000 daily unique visitors for 2006, up from 55,000 in 2005.
    • Similarly, total page views for the year should top 385,000 - up from 302,000 for 2005; up from 203,000 for 2004; and up from 67,000 for 2003 (the site's first full year of operation).
    • Data from my server logs implies the total number of hits for 2006 will be over 900,000.
    • Most popular pages 2006: Full Structure (21% of page views); the home page (15%); Sectioned Structure (10%); Links Page (4.2%). The populairty of the latter is a source of puzzlement. In the four and half months the LeagueMap has been active, it has been abotu as popular as the links page.

2007

  • 8th January: Concieve idea for FA Cup / Trophy / Vase predictions for 2007/8 using the League Ratings. The League Ratings will be updated when I get a new computer by the end of the month. (My current computer dates from the previous century, and really doesn't like calculatign the ratings).
  • 8th January: Create a Livejournal to be used for all future information about site updates. See the first entry for more information

Updated 09:16 27/05/20076 | 2003-7 Tom Willis