Discussion Points for 2009 FLC
November 14, 2009
by Russ Jackman
2009-2010 District One Webmaster
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
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To summarize the process of creating a Club website:
Plenty of free resources can be found through search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.
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.
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:
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