A GM's Guide To Simple Internet Management
The 5 Minute Website Review
By Dr. William D. Ivers
As I examine the websites of Clubessential’s clients, I am always amazed at the wide range of quality I see. On the one hand there are websites so active and so full of interesting information that they must be a key focus of communication for the club, generating higher member engagement and participation, while on the other hand there are websites that are drab and stale and hardly used. The difference is not “technical” because all these websites share the same technology. The truth is that these websites have different degrees of success because of the approach club management has taken to electronic communications. Some general managers, for example, think websites require the attention of a “technical person” and because the general manager may have little background in technology, they abdicate the responsibility for website success to someone on the staff who “knows something about computers.” This, I would argue, is a mistake. The general manager, without any technical background, can control the quality of the website simply by doing a “Five Minute Website Review” each month. Here are some simple questions to ask to gauge the health of your website:
- Is there fresh content in each area of the website?
- Is there a consistent style for the content? (e.g., avoid large purple headlines)
- Are the member email addresses up to date? (check the tracking to see what percent don’t get through). Write down the percentage of your membership you can reach with email each month – make sure the number goes up month by month.
- Were there quite a few e-mailings during the month? You can look in the emailing history area. Do the mailings you see in the history have graphical layouts, taking advantage of nice templates?
- Are your e-mailings designed to encourage your members to sign into the website (using SmartLinks)? If not, your website traffic is guaranteed to be sparse.
- Is the calendar loaded with upcoming events? Are the descriptions pleasing graphical “posters” or just text?
- Are there news items on various pages? Are the news items graphical or just text?
- How many current pictures are there on the website? Is each significant club event represented with pictures? Remember that your member website is more like a magazine than a book – the casual pictures need to change each month.
- Does the directory have member pictures? If not, is there a plan to get them? You can get half the pictures just by asking for them (in an email). How much does it help the club when members begin to recognize other members?
- Website usage has increased on average by 30% in the last year for previously installed Clubessential clients – is website usage increasing for your website?
You can see from these questions that the issues are not “technical.” They are the same kinds of issues general managers have dealt with for years to ensure effective newsletter communications or to encourage members to have dinner at the club. The first time you do a “five minute review” it will take more than five minutes, but once you get started looking for the right things, a funny thing happens – the right things will be there because you are looking for them.