BPWNZ Federation Club Websites Recommendations
For some time, the Federation Executive has considered the question of club websites. Karen Nelson’s (BPW Cambridge) excellent presentation on club websites at Conference 2010 highlighted what could be done for a very reasonable cost.
At our July 2010 meeting, the Federation Executive set up a website committee tasked with making recommendations to help clubs make the website decision.
While the Executive cannot and will not insist that clubs do set up their own websites, there are compelling reasons for doing so. Some of those reasons are discussed later in this report.
Similarly, the Executive cannot and will not force BPW Clubs to use one or other method of starting and maintaining a club web presence. However, we do feel that we need to provide some recommendations and/or guidance to help BPW clubs make an informed decision.
We decided to narrow the recommendations or choices down to three, just to make it a little easier. These are:
1. The Cambridge template
2. Google Apps
3. A free website template (totally free: no domain name fees, no hosting fees, etc)
First, why should clubs have a website?
These are some of the benefits Cambridge has experienced by having a club website.
- We get approx 3-4 enquiries from prospective members about our club each month
- 7 of our last 10 new members have been from website enquiries
- Our website provides a professional front-window to our club.
- we can update content on demand, including links for our members to their business websites etc
- Utilising Weebly has saved our club significant costs by eliminating website hosting, development and management fees
- Utilising online media has saved our club significant costs by radically reducing our spend on hard-copy materials
- Cambridge now has dedicated email addresses for: president, treasurer, secretary, bulletin, membership, catering, programme, projects, and enquiries, etc … which means we don’t need to change our email addresses with the BPWNZ office each time we have a change of personnel in our committee. Emails will always get through to our club leadership team. It is very simple to change the forwarding email address when club officers change from time to time.
Second, our recommendations
1. The Cambridge template – In our opinion, this template (colour, layout, etc) is fresh and clean, modern and uncluttered. It is easy to manage the content and there are a number of options that clubs might consider using either now or in the future. Please note the following:
a. BPW Cambridge uses services provided by www.weebly.com to create, manage and host their club website
b. It is FREE to use the Weebly content manager to create a website, including extensive features such as – Paypal shopping cart, Blog, Google Maps, online booking system, file attachments (pdf, audio and video), favicon, search engine optimisation etc. Developing this kind of commercially rich website functionality and maintaining website content used to cost organisations thousands. Using a service like Weebly is transformational in terms of cost savings and revenue opportunity.
c. Weebly provides FREE templates to create websites with. (Template =the colour scheme of the website pages and the website pages layout e.g. where the buttons are).
d. Alternatively, at a one-off cost of $195, BPW Cambridge offers clubs rights to a consistently styled template as an alternative to the free templates that are available. (See www.bpwcambridge.org.nz)
e. The template can be updated at anytime, at a one-off cost, to accommodate any design requirements.
f. It does cost $25 per annum to buy/hold the domain name e.g. www.bpwcambridge.org.nz
h. It is FREE to host a website (ie store the website file on a server connected to the world wide web). This saves most clubs or small businesses at least $600+ per year
2. Google Apps – Very easy to use, FREE (with some limitations: ie no more than 50 email addresses)
a. You must have a domain name, which Google Apps can help you set up for $US10 per annum (about $14.00). Go to https://www.google.com/a/cpanel/domain/new to get started.
b. You get up to 50 email addresses, which means you can have email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, etc. In fact, you could give all of your members their own email address if you wished. (not recommended by us; it could lead to some complications later down the track)
c. Free templates to choose from. You can import your logo into the template, and the logo shows up on all pages, including the email accounts.
d. Creating and managing the content of your website is super simple. When you are signed in to your domain, click on Create page, choose from one of five templates (webpage, File, Announcement, list or start page). You can edit the page to put in whatever you want.
e. You can have as many pages as you want. Each of your members can have their own page on the website, or link to their own website.
f. Several google services are available, like google docs and spreadsheets, Calendar, and google chat, which all work the same as with a gmail account. Others, such as Picasa, google maps etc, will be coming onstream soon.
g. You can make constant changes to your webpages whenever you want, add or delete pages and content, or link to outside websites. See www.tel2020.org to look at the website I’m working on for my job.
3. Free website services –
ii. Reasonably easy to use.
iii. Free templates available
i. You will be unable to have a dedicated domain name. Your website address will be something like www.bpwhawera.webs.com
ii. No email addresses available for most free websites.
iii. Some limitations on templates can be very frustrating if you want to do something, but the template doesn’t allow it.
iv. There are usually ads on your site.
i. Most free website builders have a paid subscription, so be careful to stick with the free stuff
d. Some free website services you could look at:
i. Yola http://www.yola.com/features
1. I started a website – took me less than 10 minutes to get this far. http://excelsiorhouse.yolasite.com/
ii. Webspawner http://tools.webspawner.com/scripts/entry.pl?e=webspawner&k=page.create I didn’t try it, but it looks simple to use. Might not be very professional, though.
(To open any of the links in this report, hover your mouse over the link, hold down the ctrl key and click – sorry, if you have a Mac, you’re on your own – I’m not sure of the procedure there.)
With any of the recommendations we have made, you do not need to have specialised web design skills, although some computer competency is an advantage. An eye for design would also help.
We do urge clubs to make the decision to build and maintain a website, and hope that the above recommendations will be useful.
If anyone has any questions about this report, or help with setting up a site, we will do the best we can to answer your queries.
Acknowledgements: we acknowledge the contributions of Karen Nelson in preparing this report; in particular, the Cambridge template and the Cambridge Experience.