A website can be one of an organization’s most useful resources. It can be your online hub for sharing announcements or upcoming events, a way to keep your community engaged, and an opportunity to attract new members; that is, if the website looks great and provides the content that your community expects and needs.
Chances are that web design or development aren’t your areas of expertise — and that’s ok! There has never been a better time to easily build a club website, even if you have no idea where to start. With so many site builders out there, the challenge is not having the technical abilities to make a site but rather choosing which tools you should use.
Here’s how to get started with your club website and some great tools that will help get you on your way.
1. Register Your Club’s Domain Name
The internet moves at lightning speed, and you never know when your club’s domain name will be registered by someone else. To ensure your club gets the best domain possible, check to see if yours is available and, if it is, then secure it right away.
You have a few options when it comes to picking a domain. Start by searching for your club’s name and see if it’s available. You may have your heart set on a .COM domain, but there are hundreds of new top-level domains that may even be better suited for your club’s website.
2. Choose A Website Builder
Whether you want to build a unique site from scratch or just want a nice-looking template to customize with your information, there are no shortage of tools out there that will help you make a great website. If you’re reading this article, then chances are you’re searching for one of the easier solutions that you can build and manage yourself.
It can be overwhelming trying to narrow down the hundreds of solutions out there. A good place to start is by focusing on solutions that have been designed with your use case in mind.
General Site Builders
The following site builders are great general purpose website builders that will look beautiful for your members and will also be a breeze to set up.
Notable features: Responsive design, templates, blogging, eCommerce, SEO, analytics, 24/7 customer service.
Notable features: Responsive design, eCommerce, mobile apps (for site management), templates, SEO, blogging, third party apps, analytics.
Notable features: Templates, mobile apps (for site management), eCommerce, blogging, SEO.
Pricing: Free, $7.50/month & $20/month
Notable features: Beautiful, responsive themes, Fully customizable, drag-and-drop website builder, client proofing, blogging, ecommerce store, SEO, SSL, 24/7 support.Pricing: $5/month-$15/month
Niche Site Builders
In addition to the more general-purpose site creators, many website builders focus on specific use cases. These are a great option for ensuring that your site will include all of the more advanced functionality you may be looking for.
Notable features: Responsive design, inline editing, widgets, permissions, online registration, team management, tournaments, leagues, background verification.
Price: Contact Sport Ngin for quote
Notable features: Online registration, scheduling, communication, statistics, teams & rosters, online store.
Price: Plans start at $49/year (contact SI Play for more information)
For taking and managing your members’ orders.
Notable features: Responsive design (for visitors and site management), themes, order management, automated email notifications, customer login, analytics.
Notable features: Responsive design, subscriber accounts, customizable subscriptions, one-time sales, checkout, customer management, store management, referral programs, coupons & discounts, analytics.
Pricing: $39/month plus 1.25% & $0.10 per transaction
For communicating to and amongst members.
Notable features: Online registration, blogging, announcements, anti-spam verification, themes, forums, events, groups.
Pricing: $9.99/month, $29.99/month, $79.99/month
Notable features: Responsive design, custom branding & configuration, blogging, community uploaded media, forums, calendar, surveys, chat rooms, events, QuestionShark (customer support module), widgets, private messages, activity & content streams, analytics..
For showcasing your great work to your biggest supporters.
Notable features: Responsive design, themes, flexible layouts, fully customizable, client proofing, publish from Adobe Lightroom, blogging, 24/7 support.
Notable features: Mobile styling, themes, CSS & HTML, SEO, unlimited space, blogging, events, galleries, integrations with third-party services.
3. Regularly Contribute To Your Website
After all the hard work you put into creating your website, you owe it to yourself — and your club — to keep at it and make it a success. Think about it: Why would a visitor spend any time on a website whose owner doesn’t think it’s worth the time to post news, media and other updates?
A website designed to engage an audience needs to be…engaging! Make your site a regular part of your routine and you’ll have the best chance possible of making it a hit. Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day, any new content will let people know that your website is important and that as loyal club members they need to keep coming back again and again.
Know of any other types of online clubs or great site builders not mentioned in this post? Let us know in the comments!