Starting a GWRRA Website?
So you are thinking about creating a website for your chapter or upgrading your existing website. Let's start talking about what makes a good website. There are five key points to remember:
These points are ordered in importance top to bottom.
Content is King
Without up to date content, no one has a reason to come to your site. Let's face it how many times would you go back to a site that repeatedly had wrong information. You are trying to provide your visitors with vital information about your chapter. At a minimum you should have the following:
- Chapter Designation
- Chapter Nickname (if any)
- City and State (remember on the web it can be confusing as to what you are looking at
- GWRRA or Gold Wing Road Riders Association
I personally think that its also very important to provide information about when and where you meet for your monthly meeting.
One of the best things that you can do is actually sit down and look at all of the different types of content that you want to provide for your members and visitors. This will probably include things like:
- All of the things that we mentioned above
- Chapter officers and staff listings with phone numbers and probably email addresses
- Current Newsletter and Newsletter Archive
- Events Calendar
- Photo Gallery
- Member Interviews section
- Memorials Section
- Chapter history
- Rider Education materials
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Plus many others
Once you have determined the basic content for your web you will need to decide how to organize it. There are two parts to this issue. One is how to physically organize it and the other is how to present it to the site visitor. In many cases these become intertwined.
Navigation: Key to Happy Visitors
Other than up-to-date information, the key to happy visitors is an easy to use and easy to understand navigation system for a website. There have been many, many studies on this issue, because it is so key to the visitor's experience on a website. Many visitors will get frustrated with a website and just leave instead of continuing to dig to find the information they need, if the navigation system is difficult. The following are some hints from those studies:
Avoid Drop-down, Slide-out, Pop-up navigation -- Most people in the studies found the dynamic style of navigation to be too sensitive to mouse movement or just plain annoying. There were some very rare cases when these were deemed to be 'okay' but only if they were a backup.
Try to obey the 'Three Click Rule' -- From almost any where on the site (especially the top level) can you get to the information that you are interested with just three clicks?
Design for NO back-button -- From any page on your site make sure that your visitor can navigate to other pages without the use of the back-button. Its okay, if they choose to use the back button, but your navigation should allow them to move around your site without ever having to use the back button.
Visually confirm your visitor's location -- Provide some method of identifying to your visitor where they are on your site. Think about your site as a wilderness with trails going to and fro to various fields, cabins, etc. If they are looking at a wonderful waterfall on your website wilderness there should be some sort of signage that indicates what waterfall it is and how they got there.
Simple is better when it comes to style
When we talk about style we are talking about how all of the parts of the web pages look. In other words, what fonts are used, how large are the letters, what colors are used for the backgrounds, what do the links look like, etc.. In the beginning of the web you would assign the style "attributes" to each item directly, but now it is much better to use what is known as "Cascading Style Sheets" (CSS). There is way to much involved in Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to try to tackle that in this article. That will have to be another article just to it self. For now you can do some web searches on Google for "CSS" if you are interested. The following are some good points to remember for styles.
- Take advantage of Cascading Style Sheets
- Avoid assigning style attributes directly, use classes instead
- No more than two fonts and no more than three text colors per page. The one exception is when you have a color keyed chart.
- Design for smooth Browser degradation (This will be a full article to itself)
- Avoid low contrast background/text combinations or backgrounds that are heavily busy.
- Be consistent with the web standards with regard to link colors
- Use a consistent layout for your entire site so as to avoid confusing your visitor
- Keep your layout clean and simple
Top Ten Mistakes
Please read our article on the top mistakes that many web-designers make.