by John Borst Communications Director, District 5550
One has to wonder why many Rotary clubs even bother to have websites.
The woes are many. Among the worse sins are:
- wordless banners
- presidential themes that are out of date
- the latest story is years old
- a list of newsletters that scroll on forever
- a simple lack of content
I think you get the picture. If even some of these features are representative of you club’s website perhaps it would be better if it was mothballed until someone in the club was trained and volunteered to work on it on a regular basis.
The Wobbly Middle
However, most club websites are not in quite that bad a fix. Too many fall into what I’d call the “wobbly” middle. The banner names the club but has last year’s logo theme or lacks Rotary’s new branding appearance. The latest story, maybe the only story, occurred some time ago. The executive list is up to date but the speakers list isn’t even there. The name, location and time of the club’s weekly meeting are visible.
Such a club website is a hit and miss affair. It looks like it suffers from benign neglect.
Let’s face it websites take dedication; that means time: every week, week in, week out. They are the newsletters of the 21st Century.
The greatest irony occurs when a club has a superb weekly newsletter, sent out in PDF format and has a wobbly or even woeful website. This makes no sense.
The easiest way to maintain a good website is to take the newsletter story on the weekly program and make that your feature story for the website. That way your website is updated at almost weekly.
Most newsletters also include a picture so use that same picture for the website story. Always ensure it is large enough to be captured for a Pinterest pin.
So what are the characteristics of a wonderful website? A few key features are:
- A banner which clearly identifies the club, preferably with a unique background which identifies the community with which the club is associated;
- A site which uses the most recent Rotary branding format;
- A site in which the stories are updated no less frequently than monthly or preferably weekly;
- A site which clearly identifies where and when, ideally with a link to a map, the club meetings take place;
- Stories which make generous use of pictures, first to liven up the text but more importantly to enhance your social media outreach to FaceBook, Pinterest or Google +;
- Stories which have social media buttons or space for comments and feedback so they may be easily shared.
Websites are our face to the world, as well as our local and surrounding community. Consistently about 50% of the visitors are local and the other half come from mainly North America and the rest of the world.
None of us would want to produce a product which reflects badly on either one’s self personally or our business. Yet may clubs have woeful or very wobbly sites which do not enhance the image of Rotary, either locally or collectively. As such they do damage to the good sites out there.
Please take a look at your club’s website and if it isn’t “beneficial to all concerned” then please ask your club to improve it. The short list of items above will up you judge whether your site is “woeful, wobbly or wonderful”.