How to build a website

If your club website needs a refresh – or you need to build a new one – our resident web guru Emilie Fontaine is here to help.

The new Join In website responds to whatever device you're viewing it on
The Join In website – on desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile

Does your club have a website? From providing essential membership information to growing an online community, it’s an increasingly essential tool for any local sports club. Timetables, fixtures, results and a location map are always good features to include – but there’s much more you can add: what about a club blog, a photo gallery or even social media highlights?

If all this sounds daunting, don’t worry. It can be simple and inexpensive to create (or improve) your website. Here’s where to start:

Requirements

First, list all the requirements for your new website – in other words, everything you would like it to do. Keep adding to the list until you’ve captured everything. This is all about being creative and imagining what the perfect website could do for your club.

Priorities

Now you need to prioritise. Make a list of the essential items – the information people will need to find, and the tools they’ll need to use: these are your “must haves”. It’s worth taking your time over this – as you need to get this step right. It’s vital, for example, that your essential information is always very easy to find.

Sites like BT Community Web Kit can help with building your own website.
Sites like BT Community Web Kit can help with building your own website.

Research

You can now start researching online platforms – technology that will help you to build a website.

The good news is that building a website doesn’t have to be expensive. There are a few free tools out there like WordPress↑ or BT Community Web Kit↑, or the sports specialised Pitchero↑.

You’ll need to think about hosting as well. Most platforms will offer to host your site on their servers for a monthly or yearly fee – this is always something to factor in your budget.

Revise

You should now have a good idea of what your website will do and how it will be built. This is the time to revisit the tools you’re going to include – can you add any more from your first list? Remember that you need to be able to manage things after you’ve launched. For example, a blog needs to be kept up-to-date – do you have sufficient people to contribute regularly? A photo gallery can look brilliant, but you’ll need a regular supply of high quality photos.

Design and build

It’s now time to think about what it will look like – and how you will actually build it. Do you need help? If so, you can ask around your membership for any talented graphic designers or web developers.

Using web design templates that respond to the device people are using – called responsive templates – will mean your website will look its best on desktop computers, mobiles and tablets. That’s how we’ve built the Join In website – in WordPress↑, using responsive Bootstrap↑ templates.

Remember to update your Join In Club Page too – with a shout-out for volunteers with web design skills. If you cannot find anyone, you could just customise a simple online template with colours that work for you, your club logo and the pages you want to add.

Remember to register your domain name at the start, when you’ve decided to build a website.  Your domain name is what appears in the URL (the address bar in your browser). Ideally, it should be the name of your club. You can register your domain name online for a small fee – simply Google “domain name registration” to get started.

Launch

That’s it! Making a website sounds daunting – but, thanks to the many free tools available on the web, it doesn’t need to be difficult at all. Good luck!

 Emilie Fontaine
Emilie Fontaine
Head of Digital and Data at Join In

Em's top website tips

Here are Emilie's top tips for online success

  • Start by listing all the information you need to make available on your website.
  • Research and choose the right online platform. Remember, there are a few options out there that are free or very inexpensive.
  • Only build what you can maintain – and make sure you can edit everything yourself. Don’t start a blog, for example, if you don’t have time to write it.
  • Find volunteers with web design skills to help you out.
  • Choose appropriate colours and photos that fit with your club.
  • Register your domain name as soon as possible. (It should ideally be your club name.)
  • Remember to include the monthly or yearly hosting fee in your budget.
  • Keep the design simple. You may find more than one volunteer keen to help with the design, but remember the maxim: less is more!