The world of non-commercial film and A-V
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IMPROVE YOUR CLUB WEBSITE
|In the previous article I said: "If this article has made you think about how you can make your website more effective and attractive to potential newcomers I hope we can help."||This article is the first of a series which is intended to do just that - with a series of practical tips to help you produce a better club website. First of all in order to establish where you are in the process I suggest you follow the decision tree below:|
First steps and beyond
|As indicated in the chart above there is an alternative to dedicated
website software website which beginners or upgraders can try. This is a
free service called Weebly, which is a neat, simple way of putting together
and publishing/uploading a website at no charge.
Weebly tutorials can now be found on the IAC website and whilst they deal with the nuts and bolts of web design these FVM articles address content, design, style, navigation, layout, search engine optimisation etc.
It's not so difficult!
|The work falls into several stages, like making a film. Fortunately unlike making a film, rain or forgotten kit doesn't matter and it is impossible to make an irretrievable cock-up. However we do suggest you come up with a "shooting plan" (a "webbing plan" perhaps?). At the very least set yourself a target completion and launch date - otherwise it will never be done. Unlike a film, website building is more of an iterative process. You try ideas, get responses, try changes, get responses and so on... Happily you can always improve a website without too much effort and I encourage you to tinker with it regularly.|
Content is king
|Lots of juicy, interesting and informative content gives the
club solidity, engages and flatters the members, attracts newcomers and maintains
communication with those who cannot come every week. It also gives search
engines (like Google) loads of subjects to hook into, making the site more
It can be fun to brainstorm the content with colleagues. To get you started here are some ideas:
|Phew! Quite a lot of work.|
The front page
|It is best to start with the front page (Home Page). This is critical
for new visitors to the site and needs the most careful thought as here you
either capture or lose their attention. And you have to work on the assumption
that they judge the club only using this page. On our Finchley site over
30% of new visitors from the London area go no further than the front page.
So at the very least the front page needs to sell the club. Of course it is impossible to tell them all they need to know so if you can entice surfers to wander around the site getting a feel for what your club is all about that's even better.
|It is difficult to consider the front page dispassionately - after all
you know your club well. So put yourself in the mind of a potential new member.
The home page sets the site's style and tone and should reflect the club's
approach, heritage etc. I am chary about being too prescriptive as we don't
want all club websites looking the same! However there are several dos and
I'll deal with layout, style and pictures in a later article but content is always king, especially on the home page where search engines give it special attention.
This should inform and hopefully attract newcomers. It also gives potential visitors a chance to get in touch and ask question in advance. Your club maybe full of the friendliest, most welcoming, least cliquey people in the world but for new visitors a little pre-reassurance is worth a lot!
Of course you will always have the latest programme details but there is no harm in giving access, maybe in an archive section, to previous years programmes to show what kind of things you usually do.
News or Newsletter
In the dim and distant past local newspapers reported the activities of local clubs. My father was cub-reporter and spent many happy hours attending harvest festivals and W.I. meetings to report on the best jam sponge or largest marrow. Today you must seek someone in the club who can write short punchy prose. Commission them to be your very own 'club reporter'. For example, always put competition results on the site and if you have had an external judge - include a few positive quotes as to why this was the winner. Not only will you flatter the winner and encourage your members it also gives potential members something interesting to read.
At the very least these reports go on the website as an ongoing record of events and could, if edited further, act as press releases.
Some clubs have an archive of newsletters and this is the place to link to that.
We already have three pages (Home, Programme, News) but of course that is not enough. Here are my suggestions for other pages accessible from the menu on every page.
Pages you do not need to link to on your main menu ...
I have seen: Lists of members, projectionists' rota, a guest book, competition rules....
The next of these articles in Film and Video Maker will cover style, layout and navigation
Free And Easy
Meanwhile if you are keen to get going I suggest you get stuck into Weebly which will enable you to build a stylish website, totally free, in a couple of evenings. It sounds like a dodgy sales pitch, but there is no catch to this system - apart, perhaps, from the silly name!
Weebly is easy to use, yet lets your website have an interactive map guiding visitors to the club, videos, a photo-gallery or even a forum if you wish. If you plan a career as a web designer, look elsewhere. But for many of us this is an ideal answer: it costs nothing, needs little time - and works on any type of computer. Weebly exists only on the internet, so you don't need a program except your usual web browser.
We have written a step-by-step guide to using Weebly. It is packed with illustrations which would take up all of FVM so we put it on the IAC website. Click to see Build A Club Website.
We asked Chesterfield Film Makers to test drive a draft of the guide and luckily this was just the help committee member Keith Slaughter needed.
"At the last committee meeting someone kindly suggested that I produce a web site for our club. I wasn't present at the time, but I don't mind as it is something that I would very much like to try."
Three days later he added:
"I have worked through your tutorial as far as publishing the site. I am now up to the page on embedding maps etc. I can honestly say I have had no problems. I found it all very well set out and easy to follow."
Take a look at what he has done http://chesterfieldfilmmakers.weebly.com
As the articles in FVM discuss principles, we will extend the tutorials to show how Weebly can comply with them. (Oh - and just in case you are wondering, we have no connections with the Weebly company!)
Website Makeover Guides - Introduction
What Should the Content Be? |
| Anchors & Links |
Getting Pictures |
Getting & Using
A Beginner's Guide to Creating a Club Website with Weebly
Don't Panic! |
Signing up to Weebly |
Making your first (elegant) page
| Adding more pages and