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Gun Club Web Site - What features do you want/use?

Discussion in 'Off Topic Threads' started by jcallan, Dec 11, 2008.

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  1. jcallan

    jcallan TS Member

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    Oct 31, 2008
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    Folks,

    My son and I just joined our local gun club, and I have volunteered to help spruce the web site. I am new to shooting, but I architect/design huge web sites for a living...many you have heard of and possibly visited sites I have worked on...Sears.com the Holiday Heroes at Home, Best Wishes, Gift Finder and Golden Wish Ticket (yep, launched that last month), Northern Trust (Chicago...before that)...Costco.com (yep, had a hand in that one as well). I want to bring that experience to this sport and I am confident you can help.

    The first step in creating a web site that brings user delight is one that has features that users want and use. So, in a forum on trap shooting it is only fitting that I ask shooting enthusiasts a few questions about your local gun club web site or web sites of gun clubs that you visit every now and then and that keep you coming back.

    1) What features must be in a gun club web site that as a visitor you have to see and as a member you must have?
    2) What features do you most admire and use in a gun club web site?
    3) What features on a gun club web site would cause you to visit it frequently?
    4) What features have you wanted, perhaps not seen anywhere, but believe would be very useful?
    5) How have you searched for and located the interesting shooting related sites that you visit? What terms did you use? What search engines?

    In your responses try to give relative importance or priority in what features are most important to you and how you personally use them and why if possible.

    Thanks so much for your help in improving the web-based support of the sport you enjoy.

    Cheers,

    Jim Callan
     
  2. j2jake

    j2jake Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    2,289
    No necessarly in this order: a useful map to the club, schedule of events, scores/reports on recent shoots,contact information, membership information, cost of shooting and description of disiplines offered. Availibilty of supplies and instruction is also nice to know. AND hours of operation. I'm sure there are more, Jake
     
  3. Bob_K

    Bob_K Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    1,480
    Location:
    Afton, Virginia
    My gun club has most everything we want. The problem is keeping it up to date. Also the forum discussion area had to be disabled because of hacker attacks. Club location, membership information, and club rules are high on our list since we frequently just refer potential members to the website for club information.
     
  4. washandwear

    washandwear Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    414
    Hi - input requested

    1. Who are you
    2. What do you offer
    3. Where are you
    4. Hours of operation
    5. Cost to participate
    6. Contact phone/email/website
    7. Calendar of events
    8. League/shoot results
    9. Meeting minutes
    10. Highlights activities
     
  5. jcallan

    jcallan TS Member

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    Actually, the web site pointed to by Bob K (http://www.northernvirginiagunclub.org) is a great example of a basic gun club site with all the essentials. It is what we in the technoloy busines term a basic top-left bullet menu design using first generation HTML. It has clean, simple graphics that are thematically chosen. Organizationally and informationally it contains:

    1. Details about the gun club. 2. What the club offers.

    3. Where it is located, maps, hours, costs. 4. Some history.

    5. Officers, chairs and contacts. 6. Calendar of events and activites

    7. Score posts, photos, articles 8. Club rules and need to knows

    9. How to join / visit 10. Officer statements and newsletter

    Although several gun club sites I have been to lack this coverage of the essentials, let's assume that these are covered in a basic web design.

    Bob K did mention the difficulty in keeping the content on his club's site current and fresh. For those involved in this activity...this problem is addressed in two basic ways: adding a content management system behind the site, and sharing the "love" so to speak of keeping it up to date and fresh with content from members who want to help. Too many webs are designed as "static" sites and make it difficult to share the administration and content management. Let's assume that these two technical and organizational problems have been handled as well.

    Let's crank it up a notch and push the envelope a bit.

    When seeking information about a club, are virtual tours helpful? Arial photos? Photos of members? When seeking directions, is a map sufficient or do you find the directions from North, South, East and West more helpful? Is the history of interest? In the few trap shoots that I have been to with my son I have found the comraderie and friendships that folks have of much greater interest to them than the shooting. Is knowing the whos important to you and your club?

    I know our club has struggled with online renewal payment, but would payments for dues/renewals be of interest? Would you personally use it? Why/why not?

    I have noticed that some clubs post the photos of the scoring sheets from a shoot and others summarize the scores. This site even has some tools for maintaining scores. What features do yo want from a score keeper? Would you use it? Do you find existing ones difficult to read, search, use? What would you like to see? If you want drag and drop capabilities, then be that specific if you can.

    Speaking of calendars...I find most of these show single event single day views and cannot be highlighted by interest. What I mean is that if you shoot pistols and not shotguns, then it would be handy to filter calendar views and highlights by pistol events only. What features in calendars would you like? Would you like your glub to carry events from nearby sister clubs? Do you want events highlighted on maps based on proximity?

    As the web has evolved you may have noticed sites getting sexier (not talking about that) with animation, more dynamic interactivity and more social glue. Are any of these features of interest? Would you want your own club home page to play with? Would a club-based email address be of interest? Would you post and share your own photos on your club site?

    How about buying, selling and trading? How does your club support this? Do they? Do you have interest? How could the support of these activities be improved?

    Thanks for thinking about these things and providing your helpful insights.

    Cheers,

    Jim Callan
     
  6. todd farris

    todd farris TS Member

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    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
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    I would suggest also safety rules, shell rules and suggested equipment(choke, shell bag, shooting glasses, hat, cooler-if nothing is avail, etc.) Maybe a first timers link with these suggestions and a list of things needed to do upon arrival, who to check in with, etc. Also, what about links to current weather, ATA, NSSC, NSCA and other sites.

    Todd
     
  7. 101voodoo

    101voodoo TS Member

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    Dec 27, 2005
    Messages:
    234
    Lots of good suggestions, but the thing I'm usually after at a club web site is an accurate shoot calendar. That and flyers with start times, events, etc. for the next shoot.Probably the hardest thing to keep current.

    Shoot results are nice as well.

    Jim
     
  8. recurvyarcher

    recurvyarcher Well-Known Member

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    Apr 26, 2006
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    6,450
    For the directions, it would be nice for a shooter to be able to input his starting address, then upon selecting "Enter", driving directions and a map pop up on the screen.

    Also, GPS coordinates could be provided.

    Photos and "who's who" dont matter much to me. How many traps that they have, what kind of equipment they use, and facilities (showers, camping hook ups, snack bar/kitchen) matter to me.

    Being able to pay by cc or paypal would be of benefit.
     
  9. 635 G

    635 G Well-Known Member

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    I'd like to know what brand & style (color) targets are used. What is the background. Finally how are the trap houses orientated. This helps, in pre-squadding & bring proper glasses or getting glasses that will work.

    Lou
     
  10. Carol Lister

    Carol Lister TS Member

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    Nov 9, 2008
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    I help with the web sites for 2 clubs and we have found (been told) that there are any number of ways to get directions etc. to the clubs. We've also been told that the more elaborate a web site gets, the more difficult it seems to be to locate information in it.

    The biggest complaint we get from visitors is that other clubs' web sites are not updated in a regular manner; new information isn't put up and old information removed in a timely manner. Our web sites are updated at least monthly with shoot information, schedules and results put up and taken down on a two month rotation with the old results archived for access for one year.

    We have one page that contains the clubs' address, hours, phone/email contacts (to reliable members who will reply quickly), costs and special regulations. Club news is distributed through a separate newsletter that is emailed to participating members and linked to in the web site. We want to make it easy for people to find and visit out clubs. The history, membership, sales, trade and other cute stuff can be addressed when they arrive.

    Carol Lister
     
  11. Fox32

    Fox32 Member

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    Links to other gun related sites. EG: NRA, ATA and most important would be acknowledgement of winners at your club and other shoots in your area. We all take pride in winning and when we can see our name in print (website) it goes a long way for the enjoyment of our sport!!!!
     
  12. Carol Lister

    Carol Lister TS Member

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    <blockquote>"I'd like to know what brand & style (color) targets are used. What is the background. Finally how are the trap houses orientated. This helps, in pre-squadding & bring proper glasses or getting glasses that will work."</blockquote>
    One of the things we provide on our web pages is the LAT and LONG and the GPS coordinates of the clubs. Interested visitors have used them to pull up the satellite images of the clubs from Google Earth to see not only the orientation and background but the physical approaches, parking, handicapped access and clubhouse facilities.

    Carol Lister
     
  13. pyrdek

    pyrdek Well-Known Member

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    2,297
    How about a basic description of the various types of activities offered at your club? Perhaps a sub directory with links for the curious and potential beginners to pages like "what is Trap Shooting", "What is Sporting Clays", "What is Skeet Shooting", (from here just assume the What Is leads the particular interest field) "CMP", "Practical Police", "Cowboy Action", "Archery Field Course", "Biathalon", etc. These pages would include not only what it is but how it is shot. Using Trap as an example, 5 person shooting sequence and rotation, what type of basic equipment and supplies you would use (i.e. for Trap, shotgun with target type ammo (7.5 or 8, 9 may also be used) 25 rounds plus a couple spares, choke recommended, eye & ear protection, something to hold your ammo both loaded and empties, optional equipment like colored lens glasses, vests, shell catcher for autos, etc. Some of the BASIC etiquette like when to load your gun, mounting only when it is your turn, minimize movements to not distract other shooters, and so forth. If any special allowances (reduced fees, child size loaner guns, etc.) are available for younger shooters.

    If there are better times (like non-league or non-registered shoot days or times) or if offered, perhaps a day/evening when first time shooters are especially welcome to try the sport.

    If you want, you might be able to "sell" links from your page to area gun (archery?) shops so viewers might be able to buy what they need. This might help defray some of the web site server fees and such.

    Most of my other thoughts have already been mentioned above.
     
  14. joe kuhn

    joe kuhn Furry Lives Matter TS Supporters

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    When club is open and how to get there. Fees. Pictues.
     
  15. rookie tim

    rookie tim TS Member

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    I put this site together with a little help. I had a lot of members give me thanks and said they liked being able to check scores and such. Jim, do you have any ideas on how to make it better?
    www.rrgc.blogspot.com
    I am not to swift on a computer, I just figured out how to post a photo on TS.com tonight, but I try.
    Tim
     
  16. jcallan

    jcallan TS Member

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    Now we are getting some great ideas. Let's keep them coming.

    Several people have mentioned, most specifically Carol and Bob K, the practical and widespread problem of keeping web sites current. My second post in this thread addressed this issue, but since this thread is getting some posts from folks that do help their clubs by working on their web sites, it may help if I clarified what I meant by a Content Management System.

    People like fresh web sites. Fresh in the sense that the content is current, up to date and useful. This provides what is termed "stickiness." When you go to a web site you are viewing the public interface. Most successful web sites that remain fresh have an administrative or pribate web interface that multiple people can use to enter content and keep it fresh. Some even provide the capability to update the site from phones or via email.

    Such administrative or private interfaces permit non-technical or web savvy people to easily contribute content. Most web sites for volunteer organizations do not feature these administrative or private interfaces. The sites are essentially collections of static web pages that are updated by uploading new pages and changing existing links via Dreamweaver or Publisher or a dozen or so other web page authoring tools. The finished pages are uploaded via FTP to the web server. This is a painful process that few can share, thus making content hard to change and even harder to keep current.

    The best way--and only way as far as I have been able to find--to solve the "freshness" problem on community sites is to add this administrative interface and spread the content contribution resposibility to folks that have the information and can contribute it but that may not be capable or inclined to use the web page authoring tools.

    Literally hundreds of Content Management web applications exist that can manage the content (provide the administrative or private interface) for other web sites. Solving the "freshness" problem requires first that the site design be migrated from a static HTML site to a dynamic content managed site, and second that content management responsibility and permissions be shared.

    I hope this clarification helps those that have volunteered to maintain their club's web sites.

    Cheers,

    Jim Callan
     
  17. jcallan

    jcallan TS Member

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    Tim, you had asked in your post above:

    "Jim, do you have any ideas on how to make it <<your site>> better? www.rrgc.blogspot.com"

    Well, there are feature related information and technical ideas I can provide you Tim. Let's start with a basic overview of the site you mentioned. What is it? It is a type of blog with several plug in features that describes your club. You have it hosted on www.blogspot.com.

    New features, well, are quite frankly what we are hearing what people want in this thread. Being new to this sport I must rely on you and other fellow shooters above and in the previous posts for some excellent ideas on content features. I am just barely a user of gun club web sites and have some ideas but have not lived with the problem long enough as many of your other peer shooters have. So, look above and hopefully below for ideas for new features for your site. Now, how about some non-feature oriented ideas for improvement?

    Largely, blogspot.com is a blog hosting provider. Blogspot is an example of one type of content management application. It permits blog oriented web sites to be created and hosted and provides several basic community and social site features that can be added or included in a blog hosted on their site. It provides an administrative interface that permits a blogger (in this case you Tim) to maintain content via the web.

    The blog you have created is attractive and functional, and based on feedback from your club members, serves your club well. However, unless you share your login information it may be difficult to share the content management responsibility on blogspot. This is the largest drawback of a hosted solution. Yahoo Groups provides (albeit in some ways less convenient) similar features, benefits and problems.

    Another issue with this type of site is that it is often hard to find. As an experiment I went directly to www.blogspot.com and tried to find your site (I had real trouble). Yes, I could have used the direct URL you provided, but then I would have to know you or the club already and that is my point.

    Search engines can find your blog eventually, but blogs hosted on blogspot tend to be buried among all the other blogs hosted there. I could get into a whole thread, of even a whole forum or book for that matter on what is termed Search Engine Optimization, but suffice it to say that having a site hosted in this fashion makes it harder to brand your site (or club) and harder for new visitors to find your site (or club) via search engines. There are ways to drive visitors to this site, but it is better and more flexible from a long term standpoint for your club to have its own site.

    Sites hosted by a multi-site blog/forum provider are inherintly limited in their look, feel and general interactivity by the templates, modules and plugins available from the provider. If you want a feature that blogspot cannot provide you, then you must find it elsewhere and add it to your blog via an <iframe> and that may or may create technical problems for you. So, you are limited in what you can add, but you have solved the basic problem of how to manage content conveniently without FTP and HTML authoring tools. This is highly commendable.

    Hope this feedback is helpful/useful.

    Cheers,

    Jim Callan
     
  18. jcallan

    jcallan TS Member

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    Well, my previous post included an example HTML tag called an Iframe that Tim could use and its use in this forum seems to have broken the post...lovely.


    Pyrdek above responded:

    "If you want, you might be able to 'sell' links from your page to area gun (archery?) shops so viewers might be able to buy what they need. This might help defray some of the web site server fees and such."


    What do clubs / club members think of advertisements and sponsorship on their web sites? It may help defray costs, but is it worth it? So, what do you think of advertisement on a club web site?
     
  19. jcallan

    jcallan TS Member

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    </iframe>

    Fixing thread.
     
  20. jcallan

    jcallan TS Member

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    Well, that was not nice. In a post to Tim, I apparently broke the forum thread.

    Hopefully, the partial post to Tim above provided some information of help.
     
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