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Founder Hal Rogers
Kin Crest

Discussion Points for 2009 FLC
Websites Seminar
November 14, 2009

Kin Websites 101!

by Russ Jackman
2009-2010 District One Webmaster

District1Kin.ca Editing Overview

The District 1 Kin website is based on a "wiki" script, functioning as a content management system. This allows members of District Council to login to the site and directly edit and add reports, news, etc.

A pilot program (explained below) is available for a limited number of clubs for the 2009-2010 Kin year, allowing a designated member to edit their Club's information page directly on District1Kin.ca, either in addition to or a replacement for, a Club website.

For details on how to edit and style content on the website, a copy of the District Website Editing Guide can be downloaded below.

District Website Editing Guide
Last Updated June 2014

District1Kin.ca Website Editing Points

  • Commit to learning something new every time you edit the site
  • Pages are organized as Groupname.Pagename or Groupname/Pagename
  • Adding and deleting pages - will add "Create page" page
  • GUI buttons are convenient for basic text editing, but the available features are endless: font styles, colour, alignment, floating boxes and images, frames, tables ...
  • Bold, italics
  • Lists, indents
  • Text styles - alignment, color; "inline" and "block" styles
  • Links - internal and external
  • Images - Attach: and Img: (may change)
  • Attachments - adding, tagging, replacing and deleting
  • Images and attachments from other groups: Group/name.ext
  • Site is pretty much goof-proof. "History" link keeps 90 days of edit history, can restore to a previous version with one click.
  • Use Headings to organize and break up large pages
  • Page Table of Contents available for long pages
  • For attachments, indicate the size of the file (many users still on dial-up)
  • PDF files are preferable to Word or Excel files; use a free PDF creator or OpenOffice
  • For Word and Excel documents, "Save as" oldest version available (i.e. use an older .doc format instead of the newer .docx format)
  • Spell check - most modern browsers have spell check built-in for text edit windows

Your Club Website

When a Club decides to create or rebuild a website, that are faced with an overwhelming number of options and alternatives, ranging from "free" to a cost of several thousand dollars.

Time vs. Money

Development of a website requires an investment of time and/or money. Generally, these two ingredients are inversely related, that is the more time invested, the lower the cost; and therefore, the more money invested, the less time commitment required by members of the Club.

Social Networking

So why not just use a online tools and networking sites like Facebook, Google Calendar, Twitter, Meetup or Ning to communicate between members and provide information to the public?

It's important to understand that these sites can provide free or low-cost tools to enhance you Club's web strategy, but there are some pitfalls to relying completely on 3rd-party tools:

  • You are bound by the site's privacy policy and terms of use. Quite often, "free" services are supported by giving up personal information and/or usage and demographic information of users of the service.
  • Terms and conditions do change. It is relatively easy (though inconvenient) to replace a feature or service used within your site, compared to starting over and rebuilding an entire website based on a service that suddenly changes it's terms of service or privacy policy to terms unacceptable to your Club.
  • Web start-ups come and go, as do long-established companies. Relying on a 3rd party for archival of documents or important information is risky; always be sure you have a separate copy of any files, media, and important conversations stored separately from the 3rd party service.

Privacy & Control

By maintaining your own website, there is a degree of control and stability that 3rd party services cannot guarantee. Yes, even the most reliable website can go down and data can become lost or corrupted, but part of the process of designing and building your own site includes organizing and creating backups of content, media and documents.

  • When building your site, be sure to include a policy of regular site back-ups.
  • Consider the "portability" of your site, should the need ever arise to move your site from one web server to another (for example, databases must be backed up in addition to the site's code).
  • Your Club's webmaster should provide copies of the URLs, usernames and passwords used to access the domain name and web hosting account to at least one other member of the Club Executive (President, Secretary, Treasurer, etc.) It is not uncommon to run into a non-profit organization where the only member who had access to renew a domain name or edit a website has left on bad terms or died unexpectedly. Regaining control of a site or renewing a domain name without these passwords is possible, but often quite difficult and expensive. Always plan for "just in case!"

What's in a Name?

The first investment your Club should make is in a domain name (i.e. MytownKinsmen.com).

To have a visitor type in your website address and view your site, you require two things: a domain name, and a hosting account. While there are many free and low-cost alternatives to hosting your website, a domain name is a relatively small investment ($15 - $25 per year) and becomes your Club's identity on the web.

Even if you don't have your own website or hosting account, a domain name can pointed (forwarded) to an existing web resource, such as your Club's page on District1Kin.ca.

However, forwarding a domain name can work against you if it is important for the public to find your Club through search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. If it is important for people to find your Club through search engines, after registering your domain name you will need to establish a web hosting account.

A Host of Options for Any Budget

After a domain name, the second expense your Club should expect is for a web hosting account.

While there are many 3rd party "free" or ad-supported website options, a web hosting account is a relatively small investment (typically $150 - $250 per year) to both create a professional image (no ads), as well as offer a degree of control over your website (not relying on the terms, or even the continued existence of, the 3rd party).

Web hosting has become a commodity and there are many affordable packages available, though when it comes to selecting a web host, generally "you get what you pay for". There is more than simply storage space and bandwidth to consider; some lower-cost web hosts limit what server-side scripts can do (both for security reasons, but also to limit the load that an individual site can place on the shared resources of the server).

Some web hosts offer an account management interface named "cPanel", which allows to you access statistics, set up email accounts, and self-manage your web hosting account. Many cPanel implementations also include "Fantatisco", a feature offering one-click installation of the most popular content management systems, blogs, wikis, and online gallery scripts.

DIY Websites

I'm a big believer in function over form. Kin's Awards program recognizes that content is more important than style, and Clubs should keep this in mind when planning their website and allocating resources (manpower and/or money). While it is easy to get excited about the look and design of the site, a basic black-and-white text website with accurate, up-to-date information is of more value than a work-of-art that hasn't been updated in three years, or contains links that lead to "under construction" pages.

That said, there are a multitude of free or low-cost scripts that can be used to build a website that is functional and easy-to use, and many of these open-source projects have active communities of developers and designers that have created ready-to-use templates, many of which are also available for little or no cost.

  • Content management systems (CMS) and wikis can offer many advantages over "static" HTML sites built with web editing programs like FrontPage, Dreamweaver or N|Vu. From offering dynamic content (i.e. event calendars), to allowing creation of members-only content, adding flexibility and ease of integration of new content, and allowing for multiple editors and establishing continuity of the site from year to year, many of the features found in CMS and wiki systems make the initial effort a worthwhile investment for your Club.

Remembering that function should come before form, first create a list of requirements and review existing sites for ideas (content and features). If you find a website that is similar in function to your plans, see if it provides a "powered by ..." tag in the footer.

  • Popular platforms include WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and PmWiki.
  • A "content management system" will provide more functionality out-of-the-box, a wiki will provide ease of editing and more flexibility (not as modular).
  • Comparisons of open source content management systems can be found at http://www.cmsmatrix.org/. A similar matrix of wiki scripts can be found at http://www.wikimatrix.org/.
  • Once you find a script with features that appear to suit your needs, look at available templates and spend some time in the community forum or subscribed to the developer mailing list before committing to the script. You want to insure the project has an active developer base, and the community is able and willing to offer advice and technical support to new users.

Public vs. Private

Many of the content management scripts allow you to assign authentication levels to users or create "members only" content. This feature is useful if your Club wishes to use the website as a communications hub for Members, and an archive for Club documents.

For privacy reasons, access to information such as the Club Roster (with members' contact information), project reports, budgets, and minutes should be restricted to members only.

Summary

To summarize the process of creating a Club website:

  1. Register a domain name (typical cost $15 - $25 per year)
  2. Obtain a web hosting account (typical cost $150 - $250 per year)
  3. Point your domain name to your webhost's DNS settings
  4. Consider a content management script. Some hosting accounts include one-click installation of popular scripts.
  5. Record all passwords, access details, and billing/renewal information. Provide a copy of this essential information to at least one additional member of the Club Executive, "just in case".
  6. Be aware of what information is for "public" consumption, and what should be protected and available to members only.
  7. Spread the word! Once your site is up and running, send the link to Kin HQ and the District Webmaster for inclusion in Kin website directories. Many community organizations, such as your municipality or local Chamber of Commerce, maintain online community directories and would be happy to include your new Kin Club website.

Free Resources

Plenty of free resources can be found through search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.

Additional tips and information can be found in the 2008 FLC Communication Seminar notes, as well as the District 1 Kin Website Overview page.

District Webmaster Russ (russ [snail] internetadvisor [period] ca -> mailto:russ [snail] internetadvisor [period] ca, 519-782-7877) is also available to provide advice to Clubs interested in creating or updating their website.

Pilot Project Overview

There is a page created for each Club on Distrcit1Kin.ca (organized by Zone).

If the Club does not have a website, they can use this page as a "mini site" and even forward a domain name to their page. The Club can forward any content, news, events for the page to their Deputy Governor for addition to this page.

If the Club does have a website, this page could be used as a brief overview of the Club and provide a link to their primary website. It would still be helpful for the DG to add timely content to the site ... accurate, current, comprehensive content will help make District1Kin.ca a relevant communications tool for Members.

For the 2009-2010 Kin year, Clubs are welcome to request direct edit access to their page on the District site. A small number of Clubs will be provided a username and password for their page, allowing them to post meeting and event information, Club Bulletins, photos, or any other information suitable for public viewing.

A domain name may be purchased by the Club ($25 or less per year) and set to forward directly to their page on the District site.

The intent is to provide a ready-made, easy-to-edit "mini site" option to help promote membership and events in their community. Purchase of a domain name will also establish a consistent web identity that can be used in advertising and promotion by the Club.

For more information or to participate in this pilot program, contact:

District 1 Webmaster Russ Jackman
russ [snail] internetadvisor [period] ca -> mailto:russ [snail] internetadvisor [period] ca
519-782-7877



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