10 Golden Rules of Website Design & Functionality
Did you know that your website is a direct representation of your club? It represents your persona and character online. As a result, creating and maintaining a well-designed website becomes imperative if you want to maintain a professional, accurate and informative presence online. In fact, the design of a website can either make you or break you.
In today’s society, the importance of having an online presence is highly recognized but the importance of having a good website design in still a rather subjective concept. Here at ClubRunner, we value the art of great design but more importantly, we value our customers’ time. That is why we designed ClubRunner to ensure that our customers’ websites adhere as closely as possible to the Golden Rules of Website Design & Functionality.
The following are the Top 10 Golden Rules of Website Design & Functionality. With ClubRunner’s new Website Designer 2.0, there is nothing stopping your from personalizing your website to reflect your club’s unique style while projecting the image you want to the world through a well designed and user friendly website.
1.  A good website should be easy to navigate.
A website that is easy to use is crucial because if the visitor finds it difficult to navigate from one page to another, he or she will get frustrated and leave the website. Attracting frustrated visitors to come back to visit the site is extremely difficult.
With Website Designer 2.0, you can create customizable drop down menus, so that the visitor can easily find what they are looking for with a few clicks of the mouse. Most importantly, these menu items are available from any page on the site, so in a couple of clicks, visitors are able to jump to other areas of interest with little effort on their part.
2.  Have a clear indication of where the user is.
The website’s visitor should always have a clear indication of which site page they are on and how they got there, thus making navigation easier.
Website Designer 2.0 automatically creates a bread crumb trail so that your visitors can keep track of where they are on your site, and allows them to click on any of the items to go back to that level. Examples include the events calendar, stories and news pages.
3.  URL should be easy to remember
One of the most common mistakes in website design is choosing a proper domain name. Your domain name should be easy to remember and easy to spell.
With ClubRunner, you have the choice of picking your very own domain name, including .org, .com, or any of the available global extensions. Most non-profit service clubs opt for the .org extension as that is the one reserved for organizations. The most commonly used format is www.[town][organization name].org, for example, www.sunnyvillerotary.org.
4.  Website should be easy to find/look up/search for
Although, once upon a time, the ‘if you build it, they will come’ mantra worked for websites – it no longer does. Due to the fact that there are millions of websites on the Internet, it becomes important for you to ensure that your website ranks high in search engine results and is easy to find.
Since ClubRunner dominates all major search engines, having a ClubRunner hosted website will help ensure that your website ranks high and is visible in search results. Thus, your club becomes extremely easy to find, without much effort on your end!
ClubRunner also automatically creates links between your club and district sites, as well as Rotary International, so this improves the relevancy of your site to search engines. However, there is quite a bit you can do to improve your rankings, including interlinking your website to as many other relevant websites (think about exchanging links with other organizations in your community).
5.  Website should work on multiple browsers
Gone are the days where the only Internet browser that everybody used was Netscape. Today, there are various Internet browsers that people prefer to use. Thus, it becomes imperative that your website be able to load on any browser – whether that be Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari or Google Chrome.
ClubRunner websites are thoroughly tested to work not only on every browser out there, but because we support unicode, you can post contents in any another language! Also, as part of Version 2.0, ClubRunner’s interface supports multiple languages, so you can completely change the experience your visitors and members have to fit your preferred language.
6.  Content should be updated often
The real factor that drives a website towards becoming successful is the content. If content is not updated often, visitors of the website have no reason to visit the site often. Updating content on a regular basis becomes difficult if one does not know HTML and has to rely on a webmaster, which may not always be available.
With Website Designer 2.0, there is absolutely no need to know any programming language or have any prior web experience. Furthermore, you can eliminate the need for a webmaster thanks to ClubRunner’s intuitive design interface. You even have the opportunity to invite other members of your club to update content on your site simply by granting them access rights. You can easily update your eBulletin on a daily basis and share any news or information on your homepage with a click of a mouse. The best part is that you can do all this at your own pace and at your own time, so you can make sure that your website is content-centric at all times.
7.  Layout consistency is key
It is important for all your website pages to follow a certain layout in order to maintain a theme and uniformity. If the layout of your website pages are not consistent with one another, your website will look untidy and disorganized, thus not properly reflecting your club’s image online.
With Website Designer 2.0, you have the ability to choose from different layouts which will be applied to all your site pages. This will ensure the consistency that is required in any website design. Further, you are free to continue changing the look and feel without having to redo any content. This makes it easy to refresh the site with a mini-makeover within minutes!
8.  Eliminate Clutter
Another common mistake that many people make is placing as much content as they can, on one page. Often, many people place so much information together that the visitor has an information overload.
Layout consistency is key because it allows the website designer to then organize how the content will be laid out in the website. By choosing a certain layout template, you can then place certain widgets (i.e: Event Calendar, Sponsor Ads, Upcoming Speakers) in different areas of the website in an organized manner. With Website Designer’s drop down menu features, you will never have to worry about overpowering your website visitor with too much information, as you’ll have the opportunity to lead them to the information they need.
9.  Website should be quick to download
In today’s fast paced world, patience is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Website visitors want the website to load fast and want to be able to look at photos, articles, and watch videos immediately. When a website has too many large images within it, it will take longer to load. This leads to frustrated visitors who end up leaving your site.
As ClubRunner as your website host, you don’t have to worry about slow download times as our world class data network will ensure that your website download time is quick and optimized. All images that are uploaded through our Image Uploader are automatically compressed for fast download speeds. You can feel free to upload your pictures using our Photo Albums module, which also creates a neat slideshow view automatically.
10.  Have the SSL encrypted pages if dealing with monetary transactions
In today’s times, website visitors are naturally concerned with the security of websites. Here at ClubRunner, we ensure that any of our add-on modules that assist with credit card transactions and finances are developed to ensure the safety and security of those involved. Our servers encrypt all data so safety is never an issue. All monetary transactions are done through SSL encrypted pages that interface directly in real-time with our payment gateways, and we do not retain any personal or credit card information. Be assured that a transaction is encrypted by checking that the address bar on the website starts with ‘https’.
Want to use this or other articles in your own newsletter? Please keep the credits attached, and reference the ClubRunner Newsletter as your source.