Club Connection is a blog written by various members of homebrew clubs with the intention of sharing ideas, inspiring home clubs, and forming connections between homebrew clubs worldwide.
Give Your Club's Website a Facelift
Hopefully those reading will find inspiration to freshen up club web sites or create a new one. Your web site is the public face of your club. Anyone in the WORLD should be able to use your site to get in touch, learn about your club, and get involved. Let’s get started.
Focus on a Logo
Most clubs already have a logo, but this is a great time to sharpen it up. Find someone in your club or contact our club member, Brice! We allowed Brice, a graphic designer, to do what he does best – create something interesting, elegant, and a reflection of the feel of your club. Ours has a smooth flowing feel that incorporates 2 iconic elements of beer – I like how it evokes “the art of brewing.” If your club is technically focused, make it reflect that. The important thing is to make it your own and make it the focal point of your site.
Go with Squarespace
Make it Work for You
This is the most important piece of any website. If some random homebrewer can’t ask a question about your club, they’re sunk. Put an OBVIOUS ‘contact’ link on your homepage. I gotta thank my wife for cramming this mentality down my throat, it is so important. Catering to new members should be a priority for clubs of any size, so make it easy.
Use the calendar feature and set your club schedule for the whole calendar year. Yes, I said it, THE WHOLE YEAR. 3rd Saturday of every month is a meeting, 1st Saturday of May, August, and November are AHA events, your annual competition, group brew days, Christmas party, BAM, the whole year done. Add other events as you need – don’t underestimate the power of planning things out early. Officers – how often do you get asked about the next event? When, where, what do I bring? Can my dog/baby/pet rhino come? Will there be food available? When people ask, send them to your site. Put the calendar on your homepage too. This is as much a feature for officers as members because it will reduce the constant stream of ‘what is our club doing’ questions.
Does your club send out monthly emails? Use the site as an intake for email addresses. I put the ‘Newsletter block’ in the footer so it follows you around the whole site. When I meet someone interested in the club, I whip out my phone and have them enter their email directly into the site. DONE! Now I don’t have a piece of paper to get wet or recycle with a pocketful of receipts.
What’s a good club website without recipes and brewing information? Use the Blog feature. I like to Categorize and Tag the posts to make them more modular across the site. Squarespace has special blocks to display only the “Recipe” category, for example. Once you’re in a recipe, you could click a “Munich Malt” tag to see all recipes with Munich Malt. Similar category/tag functionality can be used for photos/galleries. Use the built-in Social Media functions to publish new posts directly to Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Most clubs collect dues. Add a Paypal link and let the $$$ roll in. Go ahead and put your AHA banner program with it. Don’t stop collecting cash at meetings, but in a world of plastic, make it easy for folks to pay with card! I even added our BYO subscription deal to our club’s dues page.
Bells and Whistles
Domains and Email Aliases
If you have your graphic designer create a condensed version of your logo you can tighten up your social media as well. Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, etc. use icon sized images in various places. This helps solidify your club’s brand and create continuity between the different platforms. This is especially cool if you use the iPhone’s “add to Homescreen” feature and only requires a tiny bit of header code.
Our old site had a forum, which we dropped with our new site. Instead, Squarespace provides built in commenting for the Blog. If you want commenting across more of the site (like Calendar), use Disqus. It’s easy to set up – just follow Squarespace’s instructions. For general internal chatter, most club members use our private Facebook group.
In total I’ve probably spent around 100 hours on our site. If I did it again, I could probably do it in half the time by planning better from the start. Knock heads with your fellow officers and literally draw on a piece of paper what you want it to look like and where to place key elements on your homepage. That alone will save you hours of page shuffling. Another approach could be to build a site that does the minimum in a few hours. Publish and add more features as needed. By the way, I’M NOT A GENIUS. Squarespace provides great documentation for all kinds of features – from my experience, 99% of these can be added with minimal effort.
No matter what path you take, have fun and cheers!
About Trevor Gildea: