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Building Effective Class Websites By Doug Stumberger (firstname.lastname@example.org) & Dwaine Trummert (email@example.com)
STRATEGY (New opportunities and key benefits for your website)
Know your users! (and provide the content they are searching for) • Visitors who are looking to learn more, the casually interested • People on a mission: buy/sell a boat, sign up as crew, find a local sailor • Core users: occasional, participating, (a few) heavy hitters • Don’t forget friends and family!
“Web 2.0” technology can broaden the reach of your website and create a richer user experience. • Integrated media (image, video, podcast) keeps users returning to your site • Community features (blogging, comments, forums) increase involvement and shared knowledge • Integration with social media extends the marketing reach of your class • User interaction (login, registration, e-commerce) makes class administration easier
Leverage your website as a marketing tool … and for generating ad revenue • Build your website designed for maximum “SEO” (Search Engine Optimization). • Use RSS (Really Simple Syndication) to spread the word when you post new content. • Integrate with social media services such as Facebook and Twitter to enhance visibility. • Integrate your traditional print advertisers or utilize new ad & affiliate platforms.
Provide a richer, more integrated experience for regatta participants • Modern web systems make it easier to create “sub sites” for specific events. • Integration and link opportunities with US Sailing, Regatta Network, etc. • “Micro-reporting”, blogging, podcasting, video embedding can build participation. • Weather data available including current conditions, forecasts, tides
Integrate the online and print worlds • Print is not going away -- print and web will be side-by-side for a long time to come. • Augment print communications (e.g., class magazine) with email newsletters, online versions. • Refer to “Bonus Features” (additional interviews, etc.) only available online. • Talk to your print advertisers about additional opportunities for online advertising.
Summary • Know your audiences, know your content, build your community. • Explore the Web 2.0 possibilities and determine what’s possible given your time & budget. • Evaluate the class admin, marketing, and advertising opportunities against costs.
TACTICS & TECHNOLOGY (Tips on getting your website updated, revamped, improved)
Establish a roadmap for the growth of your website • Investigate a lot of sites (not just sailing) to know what you want and like. • Content is king, but design is important, too (and an opportunity to promote your “brand”). • Think about new content and new features, at both strategic and tactical levels. • “Crowdsource” your requirements: let your community play a role in design and review.
Finding help, getting started • The days of the volunteer/part-time HTML developer are numbered. • Network among friends, members, nearby businesses to find developers; get references! • Know your budget and get (several) fixed price bids for your project. • It may be more cost-effective to replace a site and migrate your data than to jury-rig new pieces.
Don’t forget about hosting, administration, and security • How much are you paying? $20/month buys a LOT of server power these days. • Budget time and money to managing system updates and performing routine maintenance. • If you’re accepting user input, you MUST secure your website.
Previous generation = HTML; This generation = Content Management Systems • Provide a unified framework for building, administering, and maintaining a website. • Make it easy to add and modify content on the site. (No need to know “code.”) • “Out of the box” features such as full-text search, user administration, rich content creation, etc. • Provide a framework for adding new technologies and features – “future proofing”
“Open source” solutions for building web applications • Typically can be downloaded, installed, used, and modified without licensing costs. • Examples: Drupal, Joomla, Wordpress, Ruby on Rails • Built, extended, maintained by a community of volunteers • Rich libraries of (sometimes buggy) new features, layouts, designs (Drupal: 7000 modules!)
Proprietary solutions for building web applications • Frameworks & toolsets from Microsoft (ASP.NET), Oracle (JavaServer Pages), Invision Power • Can provide a more turn-key and robust solution with clearer technology roadmap. • Locks you into particular technology/company, can be difficult to modify or enhance • Can have higher licensing and operating costs
Summary • Evaluate what you have and develop a roadmap for new features & content for your site. • Look carefully at the “fix vs. rebuild” decision to take advantage of new technology. • Pick good partners and be diligent when implementing a project to reduce ‘detours.’