Now that you understand the basic building blocks for your web site, it’s time to get specific about what you want your web site to be.
Regardless of how you end up building your new web site, you’ll need to know three things:
- Design. Do you already have a logo? If so, you’ve already established your business’ colors, fonts and general feel. If you don’t have a logo yet, consider getting one before you create your web site, or perhaps as part of the package if you hire a designer (I’ll write more later about how to choose a designer, so stay tuned). It helps to find and make notes on other sites that you want your site to look like.
- Content. Almost every new web site today comes with what we call a “content management system,” which allows you or your staff to add and edit photos and text yourself. That gives you a lot of flexibility, and it’s nice because you can work on the content as your web designer (if you hire one) is creating the site. The only thing the designer might need to get started is what you want in your main navigation menu — you know, the row of buttons you see near the top of every web site.
- Features. These are the things that you need a professional program or person to incorporate into the design of your site. We’ll be talking about features in more detail for the rest of this post.
Most sports facility web sites — and most business web sites, in general — have two main goals: To attract new business, and to keep current clients informed and engaged.
To accomplish those goals, here are the features you absolutely need.
- a prominent phone number (ideally in the header of the site)
- a contact form that sends email submissions directly to you
- a Google Maps listing (you should check to make sure you’re listed correctly)
- a page for each of your services so that those services show up easily in search engines (for example, a baseball page for baseball, a soccer page for soccer, etc.)
- a news section to prominently display upcoming events and camps, preferably each with its own page (again, this helps your search engine visibility)
- links to your scheduling software so that both new and existing clients can schedule and pay at their convenience
I like this list because none of the features are especially complicated, but if you have all of them, your site will be giving people everything they need to find out who you are and how they can reach you.
Other than those essential features, there are a few others I’ve added to my own sports facility’s site:
- Social media links and widgets. If you already have social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.) and are comfortable using those accounts, you should definitely link to them in some way from your site. If you don’t have social media accounts but plan to get them soon, you can still add the links … but keep in mind that rarely used social media accounts can be worse than not having any at all.)
- Embedded video or slideshow. A slideshow or video at the top of your page can be a good way to make an impression and highlight your most important information in a compelling way.
- Player spotlight. This is a nice way to highlight athletes. These pages can also show up in search engine results, which can result in new business. I wrote a full post on player spotlights here.
- Scrolling news ticker. This is just one more way to draw attention to news and upcoming events.
Other possible site features are endless. For example, sports complexes that host their own teams sometimes want to add widgets that display rosters, scores, and stats directly. Others may want fancier landing pages and animated menus. But if you’re like most smaller sports facilities, the features I’ve listed here will be more than enough.
Now that you have an idea of your site’s design, content, and features, it’s time to start looking for a person or business to build the site for you. Click here to find out how to choose the right web site designer or developer in Part 3 of our series on sports facilities for web sites.