Web-Smart: Making Your Web Site Look Sharp Hmm, that fellow from the local Lions club seemed nice. Let’s check the club’s Web site and see what they’re doing… in 2006? Talk about out of date! Web sites are fast becoming the virtual face of every organization. From Little League baseball teams to global conglomerates, everyone is developing a presence on the Web, and your Lions club shouldn’t be any different. But there’s a big difference between using a Web site and having one just to say it’s there. An effective Web site can improve your club’s communications, administration and community presence. A bad one can send prospective members and the community to search for their solutions elsewhere. Here are a few key components to keep in mind when evaluating your club’s Web site. • First and foremost, does your club have a Web site? If not, developing a Web presence is easier than ever. Visit the Lions Clubs International Web site to learn about the E-clubhouse, a new Web site development and administration system offered from LCI that will walk you through creating your own site. The new system is perhaps the best way for a club to get on the Web with a professional, easy-to-use site, but if you choose to go it on your own, Web giants Google and Yahoo have developed free template-based Web sites as well. • If you have your own site and are sticking with it, make sure you stay current. Nothing says “disorganized” more than a Web site with broken links and out-of-date information. A site that has officer reports from 2007 under its “current events” banner raises serious doubts about a club’s credibility and effectiveness. Stay with the times! • Is your site approachable and easy to use? Think about your site from the perspective of someone visiting it for the first time. Mentions of the club’s fish fry without a provided date or time and obscure references to the Tailtwister can confuse and alienate visitors unfamiliar with the regular practices and events of your club. Keep “in-the-know” references limited to your club bulletin or, if you have it, a “members only” section of your site. • Keep it short and simple. Study after study proves people don’t read Web pages like they read a newspaper. Instead, they scan them. Extra-long Web pages present an information overload to visitors, so while the history of your club might be fascinating, try to keep things brief. A good practice is to periodically check the length of your pages. If you find yourself scrolling more than the length of a page, whatever you have is probably too long. Always remember—what’s important to your reader? • If you have a Web site your club can be proud of, tell people about it. Be sure to include the club’s Web address on every piece of communication you send out. A Web site is often the first place people look for information nowadays. Put the Web address on your business cards, fliers and press releases, and be sure it’s included with your listing information with other organizations, like your community’s chamber of commerce. A Web site can be your most effective tool for communicating your club’s actions to the community, but proper maintenance takes some effort. A little extra time and patience can help your club get a foothold on the Web and position your club for future success.
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