Grand Lodge of MassachusettsSaturday January 9, 2010Establishing a District Web Presence
Establishing a District Web Presence It appears that everyone is online these days with most businesses having some sort of web presence. So why not your Lodge or District. So what does it involve? How easy is it to design a website? Options… What can a website offer? What about hosting? How Easy? The answer isvery easyif you know what you are doing! This presentation will help you avoid some of the pitfalls and help your Brothers and Friends establish a site to be proud of.
Establishing a District Web Presence • Here are the basics that will need to be addressed by your Lodge and/or District upfront. • Domain registration • Web Design • Hosting • Traffic/Hits • Updates
Establishing a District Web Presence • Domain Registration • Every Lodge and District should have a domain name. It gives a website a professional polish and makes it easier to find on the Web. • Your domain name is real property. • Registration of domain name is required and relatively cheap. Pricing starts at about $7.00 per calendar year (depending on the provider). • My advice is to shop around and register the domain yourself. • However, make sure you can transfer the domain without • penalty. • Quite a few web designers are still charging clients to register a domain. If you type slow, it takes about five minutes…
Establishing a District Web Presence • Domain Registration • Beware of sites that offer domains at ridiculously low prices – they provide you with very little control and they may assess charges to transfer the domain. Transferability is important and this can only be done if you have full control • Registrations should be made in the name of the Lodge or District. If a Brother passes on to that celestial Lodge above he’ll take the domain with him (not really, but it is a real pain to rectify)… • Consolidate your hosting and Domain registration services • wherever possible. Bundling saves money. • Fatcow.com is my provider of choice. They offer complete domain registration & hosting with 24/7 technical support.
Establishing a District Web Presence • Web Design • Here you have two options, do it yourself or enlist the services of web designer. If you are competent at using Word for Windows then you will probably be able to design a basic site. • There are many software packages out there that are relatively inexpensive (between $40 - $80). • Windows Expressions Web3 and the Macromedia/Dreamweaver • Suites run about $300 to $500. • Older versions of Microsoft FrontPage (’98 & ‘02) are available online for under $100. The learning curve for Frontpage is low and the program is extremely user friendly.
Establishing a District Web Presence • Web Design • If you decide to use a professional web designer make sure to shop around – good web designers are a dime a dozen. • Be warned, some designers charge per page, some by the hour, and • others for the whole project. A basic site (around three to four • pages) shouldn’t cost more than $150. Five to seven pages between $300 and $500. • Avoid paying upfront (except for maybe a small deposit), so if the designer does a bad job you are not left with a poor web site. • Also search the web for pre-designed templates, some of them are real good. But you’ll still need a software package to update the website.
Establishing a District Web Presence • Web Design • It’s your website so don’t hesitate to be creative. • Just remember ‘web design is an art’. Great web design occurs when the design and content are seamless and you don't notice its greatness. • With a great web design, it's easy to find the information you need. The content makes you want to return again and again and, most importantly, a great design will give credibility to our organization. • Use animated graphics, sounds and music sparingly. How many of you have been annoyed by bells and whistles on websites. Apply the KISS principle (keep it simple stupid). There is nothing wrong with using a basic HTML source code.
Establishing a District Web Presence • Web Design • HTML, which stands for Hyper Text Markup Language, is the predominant markup language for web pages. It provides a means to create structured documents by denoting structural segments of text such as headings, paragraphs, lists etc as well as for hyper-links (links to external pages & files). • It also allows images and objects to be embedded and it can be used to create interactive forms. • Websites written in the form of HTML utilizes "tags“ which are surrounded by angle brackets. Tags give instructions on how your site will be displayed. • Go to your favorite site, click on your [view] tab and scroll down to view [source]. This is a great way to learn how the site was designed. I’ve borrowed a lot of source code in my day.
Establishing a District Web Presence • Web Design • A final word on the design. ‘We are Masons and we should always act as such…’ • Questionable content should be avoided. Review the Grand Lodge Protocols before publishing your design. • As with the physical Lodge, The Worshipful Master is also • responsible for the virtual lodge room on the Internet. • Remember your web page is a virtual extension of your lodge, treat it with the respect it deserves.
Establishing a District Web Presence • Options • Selecting a hosting provider that offers (unlimited) e-mail • boxes just makes sense… • These boxes are web-based and will allow you to have an • e-mail that reflects your domain. For example: • email@example.com • E-mail sent to this address can be viewed on the web (with a • user name & password) or it can be forwarded directly to your • personal e-mail account: John_Doe@yahoo.com • As with the domain name, it gives the contact person a more • professional appearance. (unlimited means that all brothers • can have an account with the domain address.
Establishing a District Web Presence • Hosting - Fatcow Offers the following • Unlimited Disk Space • Unlimited Bandwidth • Unlimited Mailboxes • Free Scripts • Free Shopping Carts • 24/7 Customer/Technical Support • FTP Support * • File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is how you will transfer files from your computer (local drive) to the server side. Your files have to be published and posted on a server side to be viewed. So you’ll need a program for this (free one’s on the Internet). • Join the Herd for only $66.00 a year (plus your domain fees).
Establishing a District Web Presence • Hosting • Transferring files (FTP’ing) • A webpage consists of a series of web documents, graphic files, photographs, document files, etc. These files have to be moved from your web designer’s local hard drive to the server. • This activity requires that you have a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) application installed on your computer. There are many free one’s on the Internet. CuteFTP is a power, yet an inexpensive one.
Establishing a District Web Presence Hosting – FTP’ing the Basics Local Side Server Side
Establishing a District Web Presence • Traffic & Hits • Every Lodge and District site should also establish a hit counter. You can either set it up to record only UNIQUE visitors or ALL returning visitors. I recommend ALL visitors (because it’s primarily your members who will be visiting/returning). • Free Website Hit Counters, Web Page and Traffic Stats Counter • Website hitcounters, web page counters, traffic counter, web stats and web • www.website-hit-counters.com • Free Web Page Hit Counter #1 • Free Web Page HitCounter. Use this counter to track hits. www.easycounter.com • Digits Web Counter - The Free Page Hit Counter and WebSite Tracker • Free website counter to track visitors. The easiest web site tracking, free web stat on internet • www.digits.com • Many free hit counters on the Internet and most hosting services have free stat counter applications for customers to utilize.
Establishing a District Web Presence • Updates…. • Regardless of your website’s design and execution or your artist ability… Keeping the site current is what’s most important… • Most updates will probably be annual (when new officers are • installed or other significant events take place). • District sites will need to keep the Official & Fraternal visitation • schedules current. • Calendars – Keep Lodge events and degree calendars current (do not publish candidate names on public calendars). • Online interactive calendars are great. www.calendars.net offers an easy to use calendar with security. • Make sure that any links to pages outside your direct control still work. Check on these links routinely.
Establishing a District Web Presence Updates – Broken Links There is nothing worse than visiting a linked page and having this message pop up…
Establishing a District Web Presence • Thank You Brothers! • Questions?