Club members may wish to build a website to promote their club, encourage contact between members and keep members and others updated on the club's activities. Many clubs find their Web development activities limited by a lack of funds, but today many opportunities exist for a club to build an inexpensive or even free website with options including simple photos and graphic content, text, forums, and even an easily updated Web calender. A club should not assume that they cannot maintain a Web presence because of budget constraints.
Consider the club's needs when choosing a Web host. Should the website offer interactive forums? Should the website allow members to upload photos? How will the website's content stay fresh? Will one person maintain the website or will multiple members perform this task?
Locate a Web host for the website. Some Web hosts, such as Bravehost.com or 000webhost.com, offer users free hosting, though their format limits options for the site design, or else the Web host places its advertising on the site. If a club is starting a website and has limited funds, a free site may seem like a good way to begin. Other Web hosts, such as Lunarpages.com or Bluehost.com, charge a monthly fee for their services. but they offer more bandwidth, free domain name registration, better accessibility, more disk space, better average uptime and other attributes that websites look for.
Look for a host that allows the club to maintain its rights to the website's design content. Insure that the club's contract with the host spells out the requirements regarding the website's accessibility and uptime as well as the website's image and general performance. Check that the club can negotiate a payment schedule to allow the option of halting payments if the host does not provide the promised services. Check to make sure that the host has design software that can upload already prepared files, if they exist, in the format that they have been prepared in. If the club's website developer will upload the club's information directly to the host, check to make sure that the developer can work with the host's software design program. Many hosts offer simple software design programs that allow the website developer to easily upload information, links, photos and simple graphics directly to the website.
Choose a domain name for the club's website. The club's domain name will present the club's "window to the world." The name should reflect the club in name, philosophy, activity, location, etc. Choose a domain name and register it, either through the host, if they provide this service when signing up with them, or through a website registry, such as GoDaddy.com or DomainRegistry.com.
Upload the club's files to the host, either by transferring files from the developer's hard disk or entering the information directly into the host's website builder software. Consider what types of information the website should offer. A club website should present an overview of the club, its mission, its activities and its membership. The website will appeal to more people if photos show the kinds of activities in which the members engage, including social programs and, if they exist, community service projects.
Include a forum for members and potential members to communicate. Many hosts offer the ability to include a forum in the hosting package. Open the forum, but consider how to moderate it to insure that comments and submissions stay within the realm of good taste and don't offend website visitors. Consider limiting forum submissions to approved members. If the host does not offer the option of a built-in forum, open a yahoogroups.com or googlegroups.com interactive message board and link it to the club's website to serve as the club's forum.
Crosslink all the club's Web pages back and forth to each other to allow for easy navigation of the site. Choose keywords carefully for the website (words that describe the website and its function, to embed into the website's name and text repeatedly) so that individuals who search the Web for such a club will find the website through their search. Insure that "contact us" information appears clearly throughout the website to enable like-minded individuals to easily contact the website's administration and become involved in the club's activities.
- graffiti of www image by timur1970 from Fotolia.com