Making Your Club's Web Site Better
Here are some tips for evaluating and improving your club's web site. These tips are based on experience judging club web site competitions for several districts in North America.
- Keep the site up to date: Make sure any information on your site is current. If you can't keep it as current as you would like, at least remove any old information. Many club web sites I've seen feature their officers from a year or two ago. Once I see that I question everything on the site, doubting that any of the information is accurate.
- Watch for errors: Make sure the information on your site is accurate and complete. Don't forget to mention the state where your club is located. (That actually is a common error.)
- Identify what's happening in pictures: Members of your club know what happened, but the web site will hopefully be viewed by many non-members and they'll enjoy their time on your site more if they know what's happening in the pictures.
- Have the site reflect your club: Many sites seem to feature only one element of a club's activities, such as meetings or fund raising events.
- Limit moving graphics: Many new web authors find moving graphics that they love and they put them all over their web sites. Often they detract, rather than add, to the message. Do you want your visitors to stare at a moving graphic, or read the moving text on the page?
- Don't use music: This may seem unduly harsh, but music is a major distraction on a web site except in those cases where visitors are given a link they can click to start it. One club web site I judged had "Mission Impossible" play whenever you viewed the main page. Leaving the copyright issues aside, the constantly starting and stopping music made navigating the site painful and caused you to want to leave quickly to get it to stop.
- Items not to forget: Don't forget to include links to Kiwanis International (a requirement of the Kiwanis web site guidelines), to your district's web site and to your division's web site if there is one. Don't forget to include information on what Kiwanis is for those visiting your site. Be sure to include good contact information so someone interested in your club can get more information.
- Test your site: As much as you are able, look at your site on various computers and various browsers to see how it looks. Ask club members to review the site and see if they see elements that aren't displaying correctly or other mistakes that can be quickly caught.
- Avoid too many pictures: If you have a lot of pictures you want to display, don't put too many of them on a single page; they will take too long for visitors to see. Be sure to prepare the pictures properly for the web site, to reduce download times. If you don't know how to do that, ask other club members for help.
- Don't try to put everything in one page: Some club sites put everything on the front page in an effort to give every item top billing. That increases download times and makes the information harder to find. Instead feature key elements on the front page and then link to other information on other pages.
- Keep the content fresh: Give your members and others reason to re-visit your site by keeping the information on the front page fresh. While the Kiwanis defining statement is important, if that is the only thing on your first page, people revisiting your site will quickly decide there's nothing new to be found and won't look further.