I have compiled a list of the top 6 things to consider when exploring the development of a new website for your Club, whether designing the site yourself or using a professional.Hopefully some of these points will help navigate what can sometimes be an overwhelming and daunting process.
1. Website Functionality
This is the first and most important step to consider in developing a new site and there would be benefit in sitting down as a committee or forming a sub-committee to identify exactly what you need the new site to do.
When you address this point always have your site visitor in mind - who are they and why are they visiting the site? From this you should form a list of objectives for your site to achieve. Such functionality that could be identified include;
Q: How do people get in touch with us?
A: Through a contact us page and always have your phone and email easily accessibly either in the header or footer of each page
Q: We need to tell our Club story
A: Create an 'About Us' page and tell your Club history, your future plans and of course some great images
Q: Where are the teams playing this weekend?
A: Consider a team fixtures page or provide a link to the sporting bodies fixtures page. This is obviously a page that require regular updating so take this into consideration when adding it to the 'need' list
Q: How do they become a member?
A: Incorporate a membership page potentially with an online payment option. Also consider a secure access Members page for members only information such as Clubs SA website.
Q: We need to promote our Club sponsors
A: I highly recommend including a Club supporters page with hyperlinks to the business partners pages. This page will support the activity you may do on your social media to promote your sponsors.
Q: How do people purchase Club merchandise or membership?
A: Add an online shop to facilitate to your site, however keep in mind stock control. You don't want to be selling product you have run out of!
Once you identify what functions you need your website to perform you can move forward with building the architecture of the site, or otherwise provide this information to a designer to build their quote.
Consider your website the online extension of your Clubrooms. The look and feel of the site must reflect your Club's branding including colours and fonts. Assuming your existing branding is modern and true to your Club (consider a rebrand at the same time if not) your website should be built to reflect this.
As an example, your team colours may be red and black. It is essential that the red used is your club red. Build your own brand board by finding the red's HEX(#) or RGB colour code and implement this across your site. Also, be sure to identify the fonts on your logo and have this build the design foundation of your site also.
One of the benefits of a website is the opportunity it provides your Club to tell it's story. Unlike social media, which will provide a different experience every time a visitor lands on your page, your website is somewhat static and as such you can invest time in preparing the messages and stories you wish to convey.
In saying this, there is an fine line between providing too much information and not enough for your site visitor. You want to ensure you provide the information they are searching for but also not have them scrolling for days to find it!
A good strategy is, once your site structure is designed (i.e. what pages your site will include and in what order) start writing the content in simple Word format under each of those headings. Run through a full editing process in Word with more than one set of eyes and ensure your content is not only engaging but it is providing the necessary information in a not too long winded format. Once these word documents are edited and true to the sites needs it will be a matter of simply copying and pasting in an esthetically pleasing format on the relevant pages.
4. Responsive Design
Over 50% of website visitors view sites on a mobile device (smart phone or tablet). That is huge and must form a good part of your website design strategy.
Have you ever been on your phone looking at a businesses website that just does not understand you are not viewing it on a PC screen? You are constantly zooming in on text, trying to use a menu that is not conducive to finger touches or the phone number does not link to your phone's caller options. Frustrating!
Be sure that your design process both factors this requirement in to the site build along with a whole lot of testing before you officially 'go live' with your site.
Most designer platforms; Wordpress, Wix, Squarespace etc, would already have this design functionality incorporated, however do not rely on this. Always preview and test EVERY page!
5. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
SEO is a art form in itself and you could spend literally tens of thousands of dollars to get your site performing as number 1 on google for hundreds of different search queries. But this is really not necessary unless you are Nike competing against Reebok or a Solar Power company in an extremely flooded market.
What does matter is that your basic SEO elements are set up and your site is connected to Google. This is generally the last part of a site build that I perform, and connecting to Google can only happen once your domain (your website address - www.___.com.au) is connected.
SEO is all about using key words across your site and in your menus. These key words will support the search functionality of Google. For example, if your site is set up correctly (and is connected to Google) a search on google of 'Football Club Whyalla' or 'RSL in Mt Gambier' should see those relevant Clubs appearing first on the google results.
Each web building platform would have a process/help guide to follow to ensure these basic measures are taken to optimise your sites visibility. Definitely ensure you use these tools to have your site appear in search listings.
6. Ongoing Costs
Whilst ensuring the Club has the budget available for a website build it is important to be aware of the ongoing costs of running a website, especially if you use a professional designer.
Firstly there is the platform costs. Depending on which web building platform is used to build your site and the bandwidth required to run your site, determines what your annual fees will be. For example, the Wix platform is between $14 and $25 a month (discounted if paid annually) whereas Wordpress is between $10 and $33 (paid annually).
On top of these costs you also have;
Annual App costs - from contact us and subscriber forms, to online stores, booking functionality or blogs, in-site apps often come with hidden costs. They are far from expensive but need to be considered as part of your annual spend for your site.
If you are hosting an online shop through your site there are other fees to be aware of, starting with bank fees and payment gateway fees. Other fees for example include Shopify charges for Australian v's International purchases.
Your domain registration also come with a minimal fee, from $1 to $25 a year.
Finally, if utilising the services of a professional designer to build your site be aware there may be an ongoing maintenance contract included in the agreement. This could be a monthly fee your Club pays to provide ongoing support for your site including updates and changes.
I personally choose not to engage this kind of contract with clients as I ensure the platform I use is easily managed by the client once the site build is complete. Along with some initial training, it is expected the client can self-manage their site after completion. Of course should the need for changes or additional assistance be required I would be available, but no ongoing contract fees.
Hopefully these 6 insider tips are useful for those Clubs looking to invest in their online presence. If you are ever in doubt of the importance of a website here are some final thoughts to take away;
They provide your Club with credibility and professionalism. Whether a person is visiting your site in relation to your core activities (sport/RSL/community etc) or for your hospitality offerings (food/drinks/gaming), having a professional site provides that crucial first impression.
Websites are a great way to keep customers informed. Most importantly over the last 6 months website visitation for Clubs has primarily been around 'are they open yet?' or 'are they taking bookings' etc. Having an up to date site provides that first point of reference rather than your phones running hot.
Unlike your Club phone a website is easily accessible - anywhere anytime. Consider it your 24 hour shop front or service desk.
Websites facilitate reaching a wider audience, one you did not know you had. Unlike Social Media which is targeted very much around your followers and online community, a well designed and set up website can have you landing in potential customers searches without you even knowing.
Although an initial outlay, a website has only minimal ongoing costs and therefor represents long lasting value. Implemented correctly a website should support income generation and be cost neutral quite quickly.
A website can also support that all important data aquisition. Whilst as a Club you already have supporter data in place thanks to memberships, the acquisition of new members and potential customers can be generated easily through the use of website subscribers. These subscribers may be interested in your dining or community activities and had not yet considered joining as a member or having a function at the Club. This data is gold and can support many marketing activities.
Websites also support these marketing activities through both social media and direct mail. The use of links back to your site pages allows for specific calls to action or news stories to be provided in full if of interest to the readers and to also be tracked through your Google analytics account.
If there are any components of your website you are unsure of or if you would like a free appraisal your existing site please do not hesitate to give me a call (0402530452) or visit the services page my website for further information.