We catch up with the webmaster of Potteries Orienteering Club - Mark Clews about the inspiration, challenges and benefits of the creation of new club website www.potoc.co.uk
What was the purpose behind creating a new website for POTOC?
Like it or not, websites and social media are becoming an expected part of any organisation. Not only is it expected, but it is such an effective and relatively low-cost method of promotion and engagement with your target market. The key to success, of course, is to try to link both together to create an integrated and coherent message, something that I set about achieving when developing the new POTOC website.
I think it is fair to say that the previous version of the POTOC website was looking a little tired and dated by current user expectations. Yes, it was fully functional and worked well as a website for those who knew what to expect – however as a marketing and promotional tool it just lacked that “wow” factor. Additionally, it was not really connected and integrated to the social media output which the club was developing, meaning that some of the excellent work that was being done on this front was being missed.
What challenges did you face?
I wanted to create something that was simple enough for the members of the club/visitors to use, whilst also being aesthetically appealing to the eye. In my mind, it had to be designed with the “newbie” in mind. Not everyone knows the technical terms of the sport and it was important that the message that comes over is “welcome, this looks rather exciting” rather than having people interested but put off because it looks too complex.
It was also critical to develop a site that interacts with the social media platforms. I know the club Captain was very active on Twitter really promoting the club, however, the club needed a website which complimented and supported this work. As a result, this was one of the main priorities to ensure social media was integrated within the website. It is so easy to update social media, which makes it much simpler to get fresh, new and relevant content.
The benefits of the new website
The old website was very much reliant on one member to maintain, which clearly placed a high level of dependency on that person. The current website is built using an architecture known as CMS (content managed system) which basically means that multiple users can all have access to be able to add content and material. This provides the ability for more content to be added on a continual basis and makes maintenance and updating easier for everyone involved.
What were the important steps behind its creation?
Design & Planning
As with every website the first step is to design an outline of what you imagine it to look like. I worked alongside the club Captain for around 3 months developing the outline for the site and transferring over content from the previous site. It was at this point we had something which resembled a website and we were able to pitch to committee members. Experience has taught me to pitch something physical, rather than a paper-based image if you want people to truly understand something. The initial feedback from the committee, on the whole, was positive, however, one member had some concerns regarding the integration of social media within the website. This was an unexpected challenge, but one that was resolved as the club was becoming aware of the benefits that social media could provide.
The new website initially ran in tandem with the old site for 3 months, which was a great way to iron out any issues, whilst also enabling other members to train in adding content to the site. In fairness, it was actually a very smooth transfer with very few issues to address. I think by actually focusing clearly on making sure the website is simple and easy to use for everyone and knowing this plan from the outset helped to ensure that during this phase major changes were not required.
We went “live” at the beginning of the year and the feedback from the new website has been really positive and pleasing. When you read comments, which reflect on the objectives that were set out from the start, you know that you have done something right. It has also been noticeable the increase in interaction, which is taking place on social media, which is now reaching a much wider audience. The permanent courses page is now proving really popular. It now has a prominent position on our website – and why shouldn’t it? It is one of the best ways to get people involved in the sport 365 days a year!
Finally, Mark Clews also adds
“Clearly the work never stops, and small additions and tweaks are constantly happening, however, once you have an established structure and framework the management and upkeep become fairly straightforward. The overall cost to the club for the development of the website will just be for the hosting and domain name (around £50 per year), as I have provided the design and development free of charge”
Natalie Weir, England Development Officer commented
“it is great to see the teamwork and joined up approach shown by POTOC here as well as the time and energy shown by Mark in bringing it all together. It is clear how being conscious of the website as a marketing and promotional tool has helped shape the way it looks and feels. The next developments will now be a social media campaign to try and be proactive and targeted in the way we try and attract more people to the club”