If your society has a website (and if not, why not – see my earlier blog!), there are certain features it really needs if you want it to show how great your society is. Let's face it, we all want to attract audiences and members, don't we? So read on...
This first one is not really something that’s obvious at first glance. And it’s arguably more of a property than a feature. It simply means that your website adapts automatically to fit the size of the device it’s being viewed on. Your website may look great on a 24-inch PC monitor, but if it looks exactly the same on a 2.5 inch wide smartphone screen, how can anyone read it?! A responsive site will increase the size of the text, re-size pictures and place columns one under the other instead of side by side.
- Slideshow and/or Gallery
Nothing says more about your shows than a few well-selected photos of your productions. You can display these in a gallery layout, but an animated slideshow is much more interesting and takes up less space. If you haven’t got a slideshow on your Home page, you’re missing an important way of selling your shows.
- Ticket selling
Most punters these day expect to be able to book tickets online, usually via your website. Although it’s beyond the means of most amdram societies to afford the equipment to take card payments, you can use a ticket agency to do this for you for a small, per-ticket fee. And they should give you the necessary information to be able to embed this into your website very easily.
As well as your shows, you probably run lots of smaller events, as well as fund-raisers and social events. An event management feature will prove essential here. These will allow you to quickly set up events and list them on your website in a variety of ways. And most of them will automatically put themselves in date order and disappear when the date has passed.
- Contact page
Almost every website has a contact page. For amdram societies, it’s an important feature for prospective audiences and members to get in touch with you. And it’s important that it’s done in a secure, spam-less way. It’s outdated now to use a link which opens the visitor’s email application; these days, it should be a form on your website which is secure and offers some way to protect against spammers. Don’t settle for anything less.
Your website needs to stay up to date and keep your members and audience informed of what’s happening. So you should have a news page which shows the latest news item first. And preferably you want a list of the news headlines on the home page too.
If you have a good archivist, you might be lucky enough to have details of past shows. It’s really interesting for audiences and members to look back at photos, cast lists and reviews of your old shows, so it’s a great feature if you can display these in a meaningful way. Galleries and slideshows can be very effective again here.
- Social media
Many societies now have Facebook – it’s a great way to build publicity for your shows and for members to stay in touch. If you have your own Facebook account, you should be integrating it into your website by displaying a feed of its timeline. The same, of course, goes for Twitter or any other social media you have.
- Members area
One of the most important features a modern website offers is the ability for specified people to log in and see pages that are not available to ordinary visitors. This is ideal for your members, as there will be information that you only want to impart to them, such as rehearsal details and members social events. You also give them a feeling of being part of an exclusive club, which of course, they are!
There are many other features available for modern websites, but these are the most essential for any self-respecting society. Does your society have all these?