Most clubs want a web site these days to promote their aims and objectives, activities and upcoming events. There are several ways of doing this that do not require you to know anything at all about web design and WordPress is quite possibly the best solution for many clubs.
Facebook enables any club to have a presence on the Internet. It’s quick to set up and it has some decent features; you can different pages to your site, it’s got a built-in calendar of events that allows visitors to say whether they’ll be coming or not, setting up image galleries for different events is pretty good, etc.
However, you’ll first of all have to set up a personal account and then add a page for your club to your own account. You can assign multiple administrators, which is handy and enables others to share the burden of managing the site. However, there is a huge downside to a Facebook-based site and that is that your visitors have to have a Facebook account to log in a view your club’s page.
One of the golden rules of web design is that you should never put a barrier in the way of visitors getting to your site as you are immediately limiting the people that can get to view your content and you may be alienating exactly the people you want to attract.
Some folk would also say that every page on WordPress looking the same is a draw-back, but I don’t think that worries visitors too much, to be honest, as they’re usually more interested in the content.
WordPress is what we, in the industry, call a content management system. It’s a bit like Facebook in that it’s software that is installed on the Internet that enables you to enter content; and that’s the thing, WordPress is more about entering and managing content than designing and building a stand-alone web site, but it offers the advantages of a stand-alone web site when compared with Facebook.
For example, WordPress web sites can be viewed by anybody; there’s no need to sign in to view a site.
Where WordPress differs though is that you can chose the look of your web site from thousands of free templates and they’re dead easy to install. Have a look through an online catalogue, hit the install button and then hit the activate button; that’s it, you’ve just chosen a style and applied it to every page on your web site – you can’t do that with Facebook. This enables you to give your site a unique look to those of your competitors (pretty much).
When you get bored with the design of your site you can change the template and, after a few hours of tweaking it, you’ll have a ‘new’ site for your visitors to view. I wouldn’t recommend you do this regularly as users like to see consistency in web sites as it reassures them that they’ve loaded the correct web site. But a revamp every eighteen months, or so, certainly won’t do you any harm and it will introduce new features that weren’t available to templates eighteen months ago.
There are some similarities between most WordPress web sites and once you’ve set one up and visit other web sites you’ll see them. But they’re not as obvious as the similarities between Facebook pages and, to be honest, WordPress templates look very professional these days.
You can have multiple users log in to the WordPress administration control panel to manage the site’s content, but you can also assign different roles to different users.
WordPress is regularly updated and a lot more secure than it was three, or-so, years ago – a complain you will hear levied against WordPress from some quarters. So long as you install the latest updates to WordPress as-and-when they become available (and minor updates are automatically installed now when visitors view the web site) and do likewise with plug-ins then your site will not nearly be hacked as often as it used to be.
And then there’s the plug-ins; these are a great feature of WordPress that enable you to build highly functional and sophisticated web sites without any web design knowledge. You want to sell products on your web site using the Ecwid on-line shop? No problems, there’s a plug-in for that. You want to make sure that your web pages appear well ranked on the Google search engine? There’s a plug-in for that too. In fact, there’s thousands of brilliant plug-ins and I use lots of them on every WordPress web site I build.
So what’s with these plug-ins? Well, the core WordPress program contains all the functionality that most web sites will need, but there’s no point in including code to get the site to work with the Ecwid on-line shop as that’s only of interest to a few thousand users possibly. So plug-ins are extra pieces of code that add functionality to a web site and you just install the plug-ins you need. Don’t go overboard though, after installing about fifteen plug-ins on a web site I found that WordPress can start to slow down and you don’t want your visitors to be waiting around for ages whilst a page loads as they’ll get impatient and go off to another web site. However, I’ve never found a problem by limiting myself this way and some of the sites I’ve built do some pretty special things.
Getting a WordPress web site is easy and we discuss this in more detail on our Getting Started page. However, the general gist is that you purchase a domain name (e.g. g7lfc.me.uk) from a domain registration company, purchase some storage space on the Internet to store your web site from a web site hosting company and install WordPress in this storage space.
Many web site hosting companies will handle the domain registration and hosting together with one contract, but you still have to install WordPress yourself (either through a one-click install which is relatively straight forward but still a little daunting to some, or the old fashioned way using FTP – if you don’t know what this is then you don’t want this option). However, there is a simpler option…
I run a hosting company that is dedicated to providing domain names, hosting and the installation of WordPress for you. We’ll even provide you with a free book on how to set up, manage and use WordPress. All this for just one low fee every year; perfectly priced for most clubs on a tight budget.