I firstly need to declare my interest here. Running a company that provide websites for sports clubs, I clearly have a vested interest in writing on this topic. However, I do believe it pertinent to take a look at what your website looks like and secondly to consider the content within.
I don’t believe there are absolute rights or wrongs, you need to decide what is right for your club and whether your website portrays your club in it’s best light.
Visual Impact – what kind of impact does your site have? Combined text and pictures give you the opportunity to illustrate club life so much better than words alone. Take another look at your website and consider how attractive it is visually to readers. Visual impact is more important than you may at first think. If a visitor finds the site attractive and easy to navigate they are far more likely to stay on the site and visit more pages.
Legibility – Is your font easy to read, do your text and background colours make for easy reading? If you use an unusual font it may be hard for some to read. Check that there are no overlaps with text boxes or misaligned headers etc. You need your site to be fully legible and to be professional in it’s appearance.
Overkill – is your homepage endless? When visitors have to keep scrolling and scrolling down they will get bored. Your homepage should have impact and be a shop window for your club. if you were running a shop you wouldn’t put every thing you sold in the window, you would put tasters from each department. In the same way don’t fill your homepage with everything your club does, add some tasters and provide relevant links. Likewise you wouldn’t put your least attractive items in the window, you save these for elsewhere in the store. For example whilst the history of your club is of interest to some, don’t take up prime window space by adding to your home page, it adds little value yet takes up a lot of space.
Links – Do all your links work or are some broken? A quick review periodically will ensure that your links are all working. Some links you use may be seasonal, for example if you link to the league’s website for league tables, make sure you update them for the new season.
Communication – how easy is it for a visitor to your site to make contact with the relevant person within your club? Can they find a name and contact details for the membership secretary, the junior chairman, the welfare officer? If they are interested in joining is there a simple mechanism to find out more?
Content – does the site have all the content it needs to highlight every aspect of club life? This needs to include information for:
- Potential members
- Current members
- Visiting teams and officials
- The local community
When you undertake your review look at the website from each of the above 5 viewpoints to check you have included all the relevant information.
Whilst reviewing your site, don’t hesitate to remove old and outdated information. You could perhaps set up an archive area and upload old content, however if you don’t clear out content from time to time you will end up with a lot of outdated clutter on your site.
Advertising – some sites use home page advertising. Examine how this appears on your site, does it dominate or detract from your main message? Are you in control of the advertising or do you use a third party for this? If you are not in control are you happy that the advertising is appropriate to your audience?
Sponsorship – offering sponsors a link from your website is an excellent way for them to gain awareness and monitor how successful their sponsorship is (by measuring traffic from your website). So take a look at how you promote your sponsors, would you sponsor your club given the coverage and position your logo and link receive? This point is particularly pertinent when combining advertising and sponsors on your homepage, you don’t want your sponsors left out in the cold.
You can review your own club website regularly, but I advise you try and get feedback from a third party. If you can find someone who knows little about your club (a work colleague or extended family member perhaps) ask them to take a look at your website and tell you:
- What they think the ethos of your club is?
- What age group is the club for?
- How easy they find it to navigate?
- Did they find it interesting?
You could also impose on their generosity of time a bit further and ask them to view a competitor’s website (a club who you may vie with for members). Which do they prefer, which club would attract them the most and why?
The feedback they provide may serve to reinforce your opinion that your website is doing a great job. However, it may prompt you to take a closer look at your website, to make small changes that will enhance the user experience and highlight your club in a positive light making it the number one choice for your sport in your area.