Welcome to ClubRunner's BlogSpot

Welcome to ClubRunner's BlogSpot - the place to stay on the pulse of hot off the press news updates about product developments, service announcements, local events and so much more!

Also, you can initiate discussions and share information among fellow ClubRunner users.

Your feedback is always welcome and necessary to help us make ClubRunner better. We want to know what you like, what you don't and what's on your wish list. Please let us know how we can enhance our service.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Tip of the Week: Contact us form

While you can use the contact us form on your home page to have form entries go to the website contact, did you know you can add a contact us form as a widget on Custom pages, and choose who the results should go to? 

That's right! In fact, you can add multiple contact us forms on Custom pages to have each form go to a specific individual, without displaying their email address. This widget is only available for Custom pages and can be found under the Essentials tab.

Simply drag the widget to where you want to place it on the page, and then define who you want to send the inquiries to. To do so, click on the cog wheel to open the widget properties. Here, you will need to give a title to the widget. We recommend adding details on who the form is going to (ex: Contact Volunteer Chair). You can choose to hide the title as well by ensuring the checkbox next to the "Show Title" label is unchecked.

Next, scroll to the settings section, from where you will be able to add the email address of the individual that should be receiving all inquiries. On the properties page, you can also add design elements to your form by adding borders and defining the border color, thickness, style, padding and more.

All inquiries through these contact forms are sent securely without revealing the recipient's email address.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Increase your online engagement

September was once New Generations month, a time dedicated towards focusing our attention on the youth through leadership development activities and other projects. The push to have younger members join Rotary has been a goal that all clubs have been relentlessly working to achieve, so naturally we begin by targeting them where they spend most of their time, online. After all, it's the younger generation that will take Rotary forward. It's not just the younger generation but all of us that spend the majority of our time online. Whether we need help looking for information or are catching up on news, we're doing it online, which means that as a Rotary Club, your focus should be on improving the way you engage with your audience online. 

We all know that at the bare minimum, we need a website, a place where the public can find contact details and information about your mission, though solely meeting the bare minimum if done haphazardly can harm us in the long run. But even with a website, how do we ensure that we can be easily found online and that we can engage with our audience. How can we share the programs we have to assist with youth development, Rotaract and RYLA projects? How can we attract more members to join the Rotary mission? What does it take to stay visible and make a memorable impact where it counts the most? The question really comes down to how can we engage with our audience to keep them informed; the answer: we have to be visible online.

Your ClubRunner site offers a fantastic level of customization, making it easier for you to adapt to new trends as they appear and encourage a high level of online engagement. In other words, you never have to worry about whether you are visible to your audience or not.

Mobile Connectivity

Did you know that connectivity to the web on a mobile device is actually greater than desktop? 
According to a recent study from ComScore, smartphone usage is actually up 394% from 2010 and tablet usage is up 1,721%.  This amount of sheer usage just goes to show the importance of having a mobile compatible site. With such high usage in place, even Google updated their search display algorithm to have mobile friendly sites rank higher.

Did you know that your ClubRunner website is already mobile friendly and you can control this setting from your Website Settings page? All ClubRunner websites are mobile friendly already so you can be sure that your message will always be delivered to your audience. Additionally, you can also add meta tags to help improve your ranking on search engines. Here, you can add keywords, descriptions, names of content authors and even custom HTML tags. Click here to see learn more about Website Settings that you can control.

Keep it Fresh

Remember how we said even having the bare minimum on your website can harm you in the long
run? If you aren't updating your website with fresh information often, your ranking actually begins to fall, which means it will become more difficult to engage with your audience online, if they can't find you.

Additionally, if you aren't updating your content often, you aren't giving a reason for your website visitors to come back to your site, and that can have a huge impact on whether or not you are able to attract younger members or any members for that matter, to your club. Make a point of adding new stories to your News or Stories widgets and place them centrally on your site. An even easier way to ensure new content appears, even without your input, is to make use of the RSS Feed widget. The RSS feed automatically draws content from sources around the web, updating the site regularly.

Keep it Simple

While you definitely need to keep your page content current and fresh, you should avoid overloading your visitors with information, that's overwhelming. Keep the essential items front and center. Content like your contact details and mission statement should be visible immediately, along with one or two items of fresh content. Other items can be placed in links in the sidebars or in the navigation menu. Building your homepage content doesn't have to be difficult. Watch our 2 part series on homepage content design to become more familiar with the Website Designer, so you can get one step closer to building a simple yet informative website.

Make it Shareable

More and more people are sharing interesting content via social media sites.  While Facebook and Twitter currently represent the lion’s share of this interaction, other social sharing sites like Tumblr and Pinterest are growing rapidly. People are engaging with the web in ways no one could have predicted just five years ago. If you want to be found by your visitors, your content needs to be available where your audience is, and that includes social sites.

Did you know that you can add a social share toolbar to your stories and site pages to allow visitors to share your content across multiple platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Blogger, Pinterest and even via email.

Make it Easy 

Have you ever visited a website that was a morass of confusing links and navigation that led you to unexpected places? One of the best ways to keep visitors engaged with your site is to make the navigation clear and intuitive. After all, as the designer of the site, you define the visitor's journey.

Categorize links to subpages clearly and always make it easy to return to the main page. The use of a Home link in the navigation menu is a good way to achieve this. Check out the articles that you have available on how you can build your website navigation menu, a great place to start categorizing content.

There's a whole lot more you can do to try and attract younger members to sign up for Rotary, youth programs, and more. Check out one of our previous articles on attracting members and be sure to comment below with your own tips!

Site Highlight - Rotary District 7300

We can’t help but feel happy when we come across a ClubRunner website that shows a balance between creativity and good design. This month, we set our eyes on District 7300’s website in Pittsburgh.

Fun fact, did you know that Pittsburgh has a long history as a transport hub and center of industry and culture. Coincidentally, that’s exactly what a website is as well – a central hub of information. If you can tie in your core message and relate your overall website back to what defines your group, you’re one step closer to mastering the essence of what makes a good website.

District 7300 ties these elements in a very creative way, starting on their website banner, which features a backdrop of the bustling Pittsburgh skyline and a cartoon train, which proudly carries this year’s Rotary theme flag. They even went one step further to add a personal touch where District Governor Bill Segar is whimsically depicted as a passenger aboard what we’ll call the Rotary Express. Tie in the additional Rotary branding, with the Rotary wheel that is placed in position of the sun, their website banner itself is a prime example of creative branding at work while the text reading "All Aboard" sets the tone of a welcoming site.

Did you know you can add your own custom banners to your ClubRunner website? For best results, we recommend keeping the image width under 960px. If you don't have your own background image but really want to add some sort of design element, take advantage of the banner library. There are lots of background options you can choose from as well.

Consistency plays a huge part in good website design, whether that is consistency in font, color, page layout, language or more. A website visitor needs consistency to easily navigate through the website without having the elements on the page act as restrictions. Even having too many colors all over the site hinders the user's journey. Here, you see consistency in the colors used and even in the branding. The same Rotary theme flag is used within the welcome widget where we see a picture of the district Governor and his spouse and the color scheme is kept consistent throughout. Adding real photos allows the visitors to relate to your site as it puts a face to the name.

The use of videos engages the viewer with a dynamic and interactive presentation through which they've easily shared details on what service above self truly means, Rotary's ambitious membership goal, a youth project the district is involved in  and even one about what Rotary clubs do. Videos allow you to 'upsell' or convey a message in a shorter time, evoking feelings in the viewer to have them relate back to the message. While they could have had a write up on all of these topics, through the use of videos, they were able to get their message across without having to worry about whether the amount of text is overwhelming for the reader.

Fun fact, another benefit of adding videos to your website is that they actually help with your ranking on search engines, as search engines base your ranking on how engaging your site is.

One particular innovation of the site is its use of a "President's Briefcase", which if clicked on prompts the visitor to log in and then directs them directly to the resources a club President would require. This is a great use of linking to internal pages with the help of graphics, which attracts the eye of the reader. As a design tip, always ensure that all of your images have an "ALT tag" associated with them. An alt tag stands for alternative information, which will appear if for some reason the image does not load. Ideally, you would just add one or two words to describe the image or its destination. For website visitors that are using screen readers to navigate through the site, having an alt tag present will ensure that they are aware that there is an image present and what it is.  In ClubRunner, you would add your alt text within the "Alternative Text" field when editing the image properties.

Another creative use of resources is using Site Pages as a job board for clubs to browse through. The Job board link is accessible via the main menu where visitors can download detailed job descriptions. There are a lot of small things you can do to make an impact through your site. Perhaps District 7300's website will inspire you.

Click on the banner below to view their site.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Coming Soon: Next-Generation Website Themes!

Give your website a new look with ClubRunner's new responsive themes.

Times have changed, and so must we! You asked for fresher, newer and more modern website themes, and that is just what we are going to deliver.
Designed from the ground up on a new framework that is fully responsive and scales beautifully on all screen sizes (yes, we mean true mobile compatibility!), we're happy to announce the upcoming release of our modern line of website templates.

These new website themes include new wider page styles with menu navigation items above the fold, rotating banners, and even homepage options without banners. Best of all, you can choose your theme and edit your content using the same familiar interface you are used to, the ClubRunner theme library and Website Designer 3.0. Simply select the theme, layout option and color variant and let your website shine!

Currently, these new themes are being offered as part of our Early Access Preview phase and we're looking for a few beta testers to join us during our pre-launch phase. To participate, simply email us at rotary@myclubrunner.com with the name of your club.