Almost every club today is looking for an advantage when it comes to their website, and many clubs have no idea where to start. Topics such as Search Engine Optimisation seem almost too big to comprehend, and detailed analytics can be overwhelming for even seasoned website administrators,advises Trevor Coughlan from Jonas.

What most clubs need are what I like to call “Easy Wins”. This doesn’t include investing significant funds into a usability study, or hiring a third part company to spend months assessing your site just to turn around and give you common sense advice. Easy Wins are all about doing the little things right, and they start with concepts as simple as setting appropriate goals for your club.

Design/re-design with a goal in mind

All too often clubs have no idea why they even have a website. We all know that a beautiful, functional website is a ‘must-have’ in today’s modern world, however, all too often the concept of trying to achieve a specific result gets lost. Instead we end up having a website just for the sake of having a website.

From the very beginning, your website should be designed to appeal most to your target audience, and this can be determined by your overall business goals. Is your club trying to capture new business from guests, eventually turning them into devoted members? If so, then focusing your website imagery and content on what sets your club apart is an appropriate first step. You’ll also want to take every opportunity to encourage website visitors to contact the club, or submit their information for follow up.

On the other hand, maybe your club is currently focusing on adding value and a sense of exclusivity for its existing membership. In this case, minimal information available to the public and a feature rich member’s only area should be your focus. In either case, knowing what you want to get out of a website will help determine what you put in,and should focus your efforts, making a website design/re-design much easier.

Photography is everything

The importance of choosing the right photographs for your website can’t be overemphasised. The quality and subject matter can easily make or break the look and feel of your website, and nothing makes a club look out of date faster than low quality, dull photographs. Clubs that are willing to spend the time, effort and sometimes money in order to get high quality photographs are the ones who can usually create a striking first impression on site visitors. However, much like setting goals for a full site design/re-design, the photographs you choose should directly reflect the club environment you are trying to develop.

Take as an example, Capital Club Dubai (www.capitalclubdubai.com). Every image used on the home page of their website was chosen in an effort to reflect the modern esthetic of the club.They have even taken it a step further by using sophisticated black and white photography, and have added a contemporary twist by including the club’s theme color in each. This excellent use of photography makes clear the type of member the club is trying to attract, without ever having to say a word.

No matter what your club’s goals are, using photography which is directly connected to the lifestyle of your desired members and guests is a sure way to make an immediate and lasting impression.

Interaction drives repeat business

Your website shouldn’t just be a place of seeing, it should be a place of doing. Individuals need to have the opportunity to visit your website and be engaged, and the reason for this is simple. Online interaction drives repeat visits, and every time someone visits your club website is another opportunity for your club to upsell services, promote events, and make them aware of opportunities they may never have noticed otherwise.

Online interaction comes in many forms such as blogs or interactive calendars of events. Both of which are great ways to boost your club’s profile and drive repeat visitors. However, online features that provide website visitors with the ability to book a teetime, or make a dining reservation, are the tools that take website interaction and turn it into online productivity– something your members and guests are sure to appreciate and for which they are likely to return.

You should never forget that aside from the word of mouth references, your club website is your single greatest source of advertising, and just like any successful marketing strategy it must be:

  • Designed with your business goals in mind
  • Built to accurately reflect & achieve those goals
  • Delivered in a way that adds value

With these three simple ideas in mind, any club should be able to launch a website and expect positive results.

Article published in Clubhouse Europe issue 5