These days, it seems that people expect every organisation, club or group they meet to have a fully functioning and informative website. As a club you are now more likely to be asked “What is your website address?” than “Do you have a website?”
How do you decide if setting up a club website is worthwhile? The decision can cause endless debate within a club as it can be difficult to justify the time and cost of maintaining a website, particularly for a small club.
The range of website options and offers available from different people and companies can be confusing. It is often tempting to find the lowest cost or rely on outside experts when deciding which type of package will best suit the club.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution but the following articles will hopefully cover a few of the issues around choosing the best online option for the club.
Clubs are mainly small but highly social groups which exist to pursue a common interest or hobby. They organise a variety of activities for their members including monthly meetings and events such as road runs, static displays, BBQs and museum visits.
If we accept that a club needs to establish an online presence outside its main functions, to have a way to manage communication and information between members and to promote club activities then a website seems, on the surface, to be the obvious tool to fulfil these requirements at a reasonable cost.
The tendency to start with the idea of needing a website and then focus on cost is justifiable and quite common. However, it ignores whether the proposed solution will contribute to the goals of the club.
A better starting point is to establish the club’s requirements (with a website brief) and then examine the resources available to realise the project. It may transpire that a website is not the obvious solution or may only be a small part of a larger plan.
A typical club has the following needs:
- Recruitment of new members
- Retention of existing members
- Organise meetings and events
- Accept membership and event registration forms
- Accept membership and event registration payments
- Promote meetings and events to members and non-members
- Enable communication between the committee and members
- Enable communication between members
- Provide ongoing record of club activities
- Provide information and advice on vehicles
Clubs will usually carry out most of these functions through monthly meetings, having a presence at events, informal contacts and by producing a newsletter.
These tend to work well within a club structure but make it difficult for a casual observer to have access to the club without talking to a club member i.e. there is a barrier to finding information on the club and potentially to the recruitment of new members.
Most people are used to researching information on the Internet and will make further contact based on the quality of the information they find.
There are a variety of options that can be used to get information online such as forums, club pages, directory and event listings as well as social media. These will be examined in Do We Need A Website? – Part Two.