GEN SOC BLUE 2.0 FOR GENEALOGY SOCIETIES
We first began work on Gen Soc Blue back in 2014 with a single beta site, the Prince George’s County Genealogical Society in suburban Maryland outside Washington, DC. We developed a number of features, tested them, and revised them as needed.
We also exhibited at the annual FGS show in San Antonio in 2014 and in Salt Lake City in 2015, and gathered additional information about what societies needed. Because we’ve been in the custom software business for 40 years, we are particularly good at gathering requirements and creating powerful systems that meet the needs of our clients.
Building one high quality system is challenging, building one high quality system that will work for many different organizations is even more challenging. While genealogy societies have certain things they all need, most societies do things a little differently, and so the software has to be flexible.
The first version of Gen Soc Blue was written using a powerful tool for data manipulation. It worked great for the library catalog and membership data, but the website itself looked a little ordinary. Meanwhile, we were building much nicer looking websites for clients using different tools. Of course “nice” is always debatable since different organizations have volunteers with wildly different levels of design expertise. However, we decided that we needed to change the underlying “architecture” of Gen Soc Blue to be able to offer nicer looking websites, ones that were better suited to viewing on devices from phones and tablets to computers (this is called responsive design), and that had more modern looking pages.
We also needed to change the data tool that drives the catalog and membership modules because the old tool was rapidly becoming obsolete.
So, we started work on Gen Soc Blue 2.0 and as of the start of 2021 we’re not finished on this version, but we’re working hard to complete the beta. We’re already talking to a number of societies who are interested, so please contact us if you want to discuss your society’s needs, or see our page for EasyNetSites, another alternative.
Every society website must be the core supporting technology to power society growth. It must save volunteer time on chores like renewals, while appealing to a younger demographic who will drive your society in the future. Let’s talk about your needs and the opportunity to move your society forward. See the footer for our phone number and hours–we look forward to chatting.
As of March 1, 2021, Blue Crab Software acquired EasyNetSites, the largest provider of genealogy and familial society websites! ENS is similar to Gen Soc Blue, but built on a different technology platform, and is an excellent choice for many societies.
Now societies have more choices for their website presence. ENS is an excellent, mature, very cost-effective solution, while Gen Soc Blue is a much newer product and can be customized more extensively, depending on your needs and the experience level of your volunteers. Here are a few comparisons.
|EasyNetSites||Gen Soc Blue|
|In Use||Extensively||Version 2.0 Still in Beta Testing|
|Best For||Smaller Societies||Larger Societies|
|Annual Hosting Cost||$195 to $435||$595 to $795|
For more information about EasyNetSites, see our ENS web pages at https://easynetsites.com.
GEN SOC BLUE 2.0 FEATURES
Gen Soc Blue 2.0 has an attractive public-facing website with pages that can be updated by a society volunteer. Your website is “responsive”, meaning that the pages change in shape depending on whether someone views it on a computer, a tablet, or a phone. That’s very important today, especially for younger people. More than 50% of all web surfing happens from mobile devices.
Every society needs more members, so why not make it easy for someone to join on the fly? Long gone are the days when someone needs to fill out a membership form and mail it in with a check, although of course you can still do that, too, if you want. Members can see their own payment records and renew and make donations by PayPal, with a successful transaction showing up immediately. The system also takes donations. Both the Membership Chair and the Treasurer are notified by email when there is a PayPal transaction. Gen Soc Blue accommodates any sort of membership plan including life time memberships, single, family, student, and other types, and renewal periods throughout the year based on when someone joined, or all at once, however your society works. Blue Crab Software has 40 years experience building custom software, so all methods are supported.
Your members can search your catalog. Some societies have extensive holdings and locating a volume or two can induce people visit the library. Gen Soc Blue has a very extensive search capability including four levels of geographic searching from country to state to county to local area. If you loan by mail, members can do that as well.
Send routine email notices to members without having to export to MailChimp or use other third party tools. Your email list is always up to date and matches your membership list exactly. Send meeting notices, membership renewal notices, notices when your newsletter is posted online for members only, and any other kind of notice. Easily copy from a previous blast email so your communications conform to your society’s style with minimal effort.
A fantastic member benefit is to provide access to your current and back issues of your newsletter or other member publications. Gen Soc Blue applies security to the files so they can’t be downloaded by someone who isn’t logged in, thus protecting your important intellectual property.
If your society has Family Group Sheets, pedigrees, and other articles, you can scan and prepare a name index to those documents. Members can click on a name to see an image of the document it was extracted from. Your system comes with software for volunteers to upload documents of interest, to enter indexing information, and to have another volunteer double check the information for accuracy. Index any kind of data that your society owns, including cemeteries, and give members access to images as well!
In a small society, every member may know everyone else and what they’re researching, but in a larger society it’s helpful to bring members together based on their research interests. Gen Soc Blue provides members-only access to a list of interests and lets members initiate communication through blind forwarding, so the identity of the recipient is protected until they’re ready to collaborate. Most genealogists are a friendly lot, but we take privacy seriously.
We really don’t like being forced to use a product that doesn’t fit the way we do business, and we don’t think you should, either. If you have a need, it’s likely other societies do, too, so we’re happy to understand your requirements and meet them. Let us know what else you need!