Public View

The District 5060 website has a lot of information for Rotarians to use. It’s designed for Rotarians to use in the operation of their clubs, applying for grants, finding out about specific programs such as Student Exchange or GSE, etc. The Polio information for example is directed at clubs for the need to fund raise for the final big push to eradicate it.

All well and good. BUT, look at the site from the point of view of a member of the general public that is interested in learning more about Rotary and is thinking about joining a club or donating money. What’s in it for them? Not a lot, and in many cases, they will get bored and leave the site. Maybe they will look into joining a Lions club or the Legion instead.

Rotary International has stressed the need for public relations and beating our own drum. We have to look exciting to the public to get them interested in us. To do this properly, we have to have an entirely different focus on the website for the public than for the members.

Also, if we are looking at recruiting younger members, we need to have the site spruced up, alive and should include video and pictures where appropriate. There is also a shift happening at an incredible rate to browse websites on a cell phone, especially iPhones, Blackberrys, Windows devices and Google powered phones. The websites should automatically change their look and feel to accommodate these smaller screens to make them easy to use.

Videos are especially powerful when done well. We could post the videos on YouTube and send people there to view them, but it’s much better to have the videos viewed from within the Rotary website as additional links can be provided on the page for interested users to click on. It is possible to embed a YouTube video on a website while not allowing the user to jump to YouTube and instead stay on the website.

This is important as if a user watches a compelling video on membership, for example, then we should allow for a signup form to appear on the page and allow the user to take action and apply right then and there.

The public view of the website should be setup in such a way so that it’s interesting and compelling for the non Rotarian to view the stories, information and videos. Specifically, it should not include things that are club business or activities that are interesting to club members only. For example, the Sherriff or Sgt. At Arms reports is strictly internal.

The public view should have main page that clearly directs users to specific areas of interest and information such as Polio, Student Exchange, GSE, Local Projects, International Projects, etc. Each of these areas should have stories at are geared to the public.

The Polio stories for example can mention the history of Polio eradication, the countries it’s still found it, the Gates Foundation Grant, how no cases of polio were found in India for the first half of 2010 for the first time ever.

The stories should not include organizational information on fundraising activities such as who is going to do what, when. These kinds of stories belong in the private area of the club or district websites.

The pages should be designed with the concepts of Social Media in mind. That is, have buttons to Share stories with others, lists of other people’s comments and an area to enter your own comment. These comments should then be e-mailed and shared with those that have signed up for getting comments on the given story, not all stories.

Each story in the public area especially, but in the private area too, should have a start date and an expiry date. Old news can make the website uninteresting and boring. Allowing stories to die automatically will help keep the site fresh. However, they should be able to be viewed in an archive area.

Optionally, each story could also be flagged to be private to the website or sharable with others. For example, the District website may have many interesting stories. In each city, there are one or more Rotary Clubs and the local population would be looking at these local Rotary websites and not the District website. By allowing the clubs to share stories from the District, the club websites could keep looking fresh and new with minimal upkeep. Of course, local stories would be encouraged. In fact a system could be setup to show local Rotary club stories only, but as the stories expire, start showing district stories if the number drops below a certain level.