Our Club websites are our shop window to the world and in keeping with that analogy the layout must be pleasing to encourage visitors to come in, we must present a friendly human face to greet our visitors and everything must be easy to find.
Here, we are sharing ten of the common mistakes that we have seen on club websites and hope that you find it interesting and helpful in your online journey. We will be covering:
- No clear purpose
- The club forum is the website
- Red, Green, Blue, Cyan, Magenta and Yellow
- Lack of branding
- Different fonts
- Static websites
- Joining/Renewing is too hard
- Ignoring mobile devices
- No contact information
Does it sound like you might have some of these? Read on and discover why this is a bad idea and what can be done to improve your online presence to the world.
No Clear Purpose
Many websites are built without first thinking about why the website is being done in the first place. Put yourself in the shoes of your visitors. What sort of visitors will you have? Your visitors could include:
- The casual enthusiast browsing
- An enthusiast undecided on which car to buy
- An enthusiast who has bought a car and is trying deciding on which club to join. They could be checking out your facilities, benefits and overall knowledge of the marque/model
- A member looking for club information
The user journey through your website is of paramount importance. If you decide on content first, your purpose will be lost – and so will your visitors. Each journey though the website should be a ‘no brainer’, your visitors should never need to have to second guess where you’ve hidden the information, it should be obvious.
What is the purpose of your club website and is it working? You will have several purposes which can include:
- Attraction of new members with easy membership joining and renewals
- Promoting your events so that visitors can find out where to go
- Promoting your technical prowess to help your visitors fix their cars
- Information to help visitors decide to buy one – This isn’t a list of specifications, draw on human feelings. No-one bought a car because it was described as a ‘self-propelled vehicle operated by a complex arrangement of levers and pedals’
- Easy contact information to real people
Deciding on your purpose and the needs and journeys of your visitors will help define your content, make your website easier to navigate, hold your visitors for longer and be easier to manage.
The Club Forum is the Website
Early in the noughties, this was entirely acceptable. Back then, enthusiasts were reaching out for social ‘chat rooms’ of like minded people to share experiences. Most were provided free of charge by clubs or individuals and many clubs grew from the use of their forum.
Rolling on to today, the use of the club forum is diminishing as discussed in our previous blog, Is facebook killing the club forum as people steadily migrate onto Social Media as more convenient ways to share knowledge and ask questions.
For the clubs that have grown from their forum presence, their ability to share information easily is somewhat limited. The Forum is exactly that, it’s a forum not a website. Customisation of the pages to provide joining information, take payments, regalia, shows and events are almost non-existent, and if the club webmaster has managed it, it is usually far from perfect needing the visitor to look and think hard about what to click and where to go, thereby creating confusion and losing out on visitors and members.
White space on a webpage is your friend, not your enemy. Do not be tempted to fill every single area of the screen with information and links. Keep your site clutter free and simple.
You have about 10 seconds from when your visitor lands on your page to make an impression that they want to stay, and they want to find out more information. If you make your visitor have to think about what you’re presenting them, they will soon depart.
Red, Green, Blue, Cyan, Magenta and Yellow
Back in the early internet years circa 1995 it seemed to be normal to use these colours, but with over 16 million colours to choose from, you can make your website so much more interesting, visually stimulating and brand aligned with little extra effort.
Many websites like to use red to make large bold text stand out. The fact that it is big and bold should already be enough in most cases, adding red is, more often than not, visually bad. The high contrasts created are eye straining and a re-think of your colour strategy is certainly in order.
Lack of Branding
Everywhere your visitors look, they should be in no doubt that they’re dealing with your club. The website, Facebook, Twitter, club banners and stationary should all tie together.
Many websites and social media that we’ve seen bear no resemblance to each other. Searching Facebook for a club yields many different possibilities. Knowing that you’ve landed on the right one is important and nothing tells you it’s the right one like the consistent branding of the logos and banners at the top of your website and your social media profiles.
A lack of consistent branding makes your club look smaller, disorganised and amateur. Whereas consistent branding will make you appear larger and professional.
While there will always be a need to have different font sizes at certain times, a website should have consistency in the font family used across all web pages. The lack of font consistency loses any professional edge that you might have and increases the visual concept of a cluttered look.
This ties in partly to the branding and the clutter topics discussed previously. If your club has a favoured font – perhaps that used within the magazine, it may be possible to use it.
The best fonts for websites in our view are sans-serif fonts (ones without the little tail finishing off the strokes of the typeface). Sans-serif fonts are clean and help with the non-cluttered look.
In short, avoid Times New Roman (and similar) and avoid the ‘hand script’ styles.
When we look round club websites, and we do all the time, it is surprising to see just how many have not been updated in months, sometimes years. We’ve seen events calendars where the most recent event happened over 12 months ago, and the latest club news older than that. In many cases there is no club news at all!
A static website is a stale website and can often do more harm than having no website at all. What are you saying to new visitors and potential new members? You’re telling them to find another club because yours is doing absolutely nothing. There is always news to broadcast to your membership, for instance:
- News of the NEC Classic Motor Show and discount codes
- News of the National Rally
- News from the FBHVC, e.g. status of the Roadworthiness Testing Directive
- Parts availability and remanufacture by your suppliers
- Changes to speed cameras and the impact on inaccurate classic speedos
There is always something to write about, and you should be writing it on your website and NEVER on Facebook!
Joining / Renewing is too hard
Clubs live and die on their membership. It is the sole source of major income and should be one of the easiest things to do on your website.
As discussed in ‘No Clear Purpose’ above, this is a user journey that should be carefully considered. We have seen clubs where the joining information is hidden inside the ‘contact us’ menu item which is itself a level 2 menu item! Don’t make your visitors need to think, joining the club should be straight forward and simple.
Ignoring Mobile Devices
We’ve already seen in one of our previous blogs ‘why is a club website so important?‘ that catering for mobile devices are no longer a good idea, they are a necessity. More than half of all web surfing is now done either on a smartphone or a tablet. This is not linked to age groups either, it is common across all.
Ignore mobile devices at your peril here, you need to be able to give your visitors as good an experience on their smartphone as they get on their laptop
No Contact Information
I think we would all agree that clubs are social organisations and new visitors/potential members want to see that the club is open and reachable. So why do some clubs make contacting the club difficult? We’ve seen websites without any contact information, some with one email address and no phone numbers and others with only premium rate phone numbers!
Adding a simple contact form to your website is straight forward. It avoids publically making your email addresses visible to the spam-bots crawling the internet looking for victims of their latest spam creations. However, good though contact forms are, they do not expose the human side of the club. Give people your phone numbers – it’s much easier for organisations to harvest phone numbers by other means than to go crawling the internet for them, but if you or your club are reticent about publishing them to all – put them in an image – internet robots cannot read images. Our favoured approach is to design properly branded business cards for our clients and insert these images onto your contact us page. At least this way, people have the choice of filling in the form or reaching out for a more personal approach and speaking to you in person.
What are your experiences of both good and bad website design? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.