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Internet Strategies
Promoting Your Camp
Creating a Web Site
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Creating a Web Site for Your Camp

As we explained in our Internet Strategies article, having a Web site is a "must" in this Internet Age. And with the cost as low as $20/month for hosting your own Web site, there is really no excuse not to, It is an expense that you will find a worthwhile investment. With the Web site you get e-mails, and you can increase the productivity of your camp by connecting your entire staff on e-mail system, so that office communication flows better.

Perhaps the hardest, most time-consuming, and costly part is designing your initial Web site. However, this job involves a one-time expense, and smaller subsequent expenditures to keep your Web site updated (like changing dates and prices).

Here are some step-by-step pointers for creating a good camp Web site:

  • Define your objectives. What is your Web site going to do? Providing information on everything about your camp is the most logical choice. Do you want to have a section for job seekers? Do you want people to register for your camp or apply for jobs online? Do you want a store (not recommended unless you are a big organization with a large number of members).

  • Check out other camp Web sites. Although this may sound like industrial espionage, it is an important part of the research you must do. What Web sites attracted your attention? What did you like and not like when you surfed other camps' Web sites? Do you like their layout, pictures, organization, information content? These insights will help you a great deal in designing your own Web site.

  • Draw a story board of your intended Web site. Lay out the information and the linkages among the data. Do not worry about the graphics or the content at this point. Just figure out in your mind how the flow of your Web site should be organized and determine the themes for each page.

  • Write content for your Web pages. Most of the time, you should be able to do this job yourself. However, you may want to engage an editor to help you with the writing and do the final proofreading.

  • Acquire graphics for your Web site. For most camps, this task will consist of digitizing pictures of children in your camp having fun. You can scan most of the pictures yourself, but as we have noticed, a lot of people do not know how to do it correctly. The result is a picture file that is 0.5M to 1.0M bytes. That will slow down your Web site considerably.

  • Putting your Web site together. Even though you have the content and the pictures, they are not enough to guarantee you an attractive Web site. We highly recommend engaging a graphics professional who can put together a nice, color-coordinated layout. The money is well spent. However, you can work with many kinds of software that will build a reasonably good-looking Web site. It is just a matter of how you want your Web site to look and how confident you are with computers.

  • Testing your Web site. You should check your Web site on different browsers (Internet Explorer and Netscape) and different machines (PC and Mac). You will be surprised how the rendering is different on different platforms and sometimes can turn a very attractive Web site into a distorted one.

  • Get feedback from your staff and friends. Have people who never saw your Web site look at it. They are probably the most accurate way to gauge whether you have a good Web site.

Things to avoid:

  • A Complicated introductory page. Though the pizzazz is there, a flashy page with music and animated graphics provides no information; it just takes the viewer's precious computer resources to load the page. Besides, some animation requires special plug-ins (additional software to your browser) that may cause the user's computer to crash.

  • Missing or buried contact information. It is highly advisable to state your contact information prominently on the home page or as a link in the home page. An e-mail address for parents to contact your camp is a must.

  • Bad or poor e-mail. You must have a valid e-mail address if you have a Web site. Avoid having an e-mail address that does not relate to your own domain name. That is, if your site is myCamp.com, can people contact you as info@myCamp.com or do they have to send to your AOL e-mail? The former is much more professional. You can still keep your AOL e-mail and read it on AOL. What you need is to retrieve e-mails sent to info@myCamp.com, and you can easily do that with most ISP providers (certainly if you choose CampDepot.com to host your site).

  • A graphics-laden page. Most people's access to the Internet is still through modems, so large or too many graphics files on a page take a long time to load and that frustrates the user.

CampDepot.com can help you build your own Web site. We have many options, both in levels of support and prices. Click here for more details. We can help you establish a great presence on the Internet; the money will be well spent. If you have an existing Web site, we can host it for you and help you give a facelift. You will be surprised at how low the cost is.

For more information, send us an e-mail at webHosting@CampDepot.com.

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