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TOPIC: Please Evaluate our Web Site http://1101858.toastmastersclubs.org/

Please Evaluate our Web Site http://1101858.toastmastersclubs.org/ 3 years 3 months ago #47686

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After looking a a few of these reviews, it's clear you can help me evolve our site. It also gives a nice opportunity to look at other clubs that are using the Toasthost to its full advantage.

Please Evaluate our Web Site 1101858.toastmastersclubs.org/

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Please Evaluate our Web Site http://1101858.toastmastersclubs.org/ 3 years 3 months ago #47690

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Elizabeth,

I would like to see Studio City mentioned on the home page as the community that your club is in.

You have seen some post about adding background colors to the pages. Personally, I think you have a good color mix with the arrows and the links for the pages, but maybe add a site background color to offset so much white.

My problem with the links on the home page is that they all take me to a new page, and I ended up having 6 pages open for your site at the same time.

I think the meeting information/directions page is very good and includes the link to the calendar. I would add a link to the contact form on this page as well.

I like that your meetings are current on the calendar, but I would like to see some outside of the club meetings listed, area, division contests, district events.

For the Membership Application, why not fill in the areas that a new member will not know, Club and District Numbers, Club Name, City, Club new member fee.

How about the Meet Our Members page next or a club pictures page?

Good job!

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Roger L. Morehouse DTM
Crown City Club 2465
Cortland NY USA

2465.toastmastersclubs.org

District 65 Webmaster
District 65 Area 42 Director
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Please Evaluate our Web Site http://1101858.toastmastersclubs.org/ 3 years 3 months ago #47708

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OVERVIEW
As mentioned in my other evaluations — see background information here — this evaluation focuses exclusively on your home page (and not your subpages) with an eye on grabbing the attention of potential guests and on the aesthetics of the page. My opinions, of course, are my own, but I hope the evaluation is useful.

CRITERIA: HOME PAGE GRABS ATTENTION AND GETS POTENTIAL GUESTS TO MEETINGS
A. Does the home page make it exceedingly clear that guests are welcome to visit the club?
It is implied throughout, I think, but it’s not until the very last sentence that you make it clear potential guests are welcome.

Given the inclusive nature of your club, I suggest highlighting this information earlier on the page.

B. Does the home page provide the address to your meeting and give (or link to) explicit directions for how to get to your meeting room?
It does not give an address. What city, state, country, or even continent are you in/on? As a potential guest, I have to search for and then click a link before taken to this crucial information.

I recommend putting the address, clear and obvious, on this page with an embedded link to your directions page.

C. Does the home page say something that distinguishes the club from other clubs in your area?
By citing that yours is one of only 11 self-identified LGBTQIA+ Toastmasters clubs, it surely does. Also, the page highlights the President’s Distinguished club award. Both are excellent.

D. Does the home page demonstrate that your club is energetic, active, and vibrant?
I sense that your club is all these things, but I can’t really tell from the home page with certainty. With the stock photo and links (that I can’t really tell are links) to other pages, the home page is making me as a potential guest do extra work to see if you’re even an active club.

I recommend adding some small things that make it clear you’re an active club. Maybe upcoming meeting dates/times. Maybe upcoming themes. Maybe a captioned photo from a recent club event/contest.

E. Does the home page reinforce that your club will help them be better speakers and leaders?
For sure! Well done. I especially love the Mark Twain quote.

F. Does the home page briefly describe what Toastmasters is all about?
For sure.

G. Does the home page have embedded links to additional information about both the club and Toastmasters?
Not really. As you likely know, embedded links provide a way to explore additional information beyond the content or narrative being presented. Here, the home page merely replicates the links in the Main Menu without providing any content or narrative where links would be embedded.

The bigger issue, which I mentioned in D above, is that I can’t even tell the links on this page are links. Instead, the links portion of this page actually just looks like an embedded PowerPoint slide. I didn’t even know they were links until I tried to answer this question. (Seriously, until I explored I thought it was just a PowerPoint slide.) With no invitation to even click on a topic, there’s a good chance folks will never know those are links.

I suggest harnessing the conventions of the Internet by using standard blue-underlined links. More importantly, though, I recommend providing some content/narrative that might lead one to want to click a link. These don’t have to be long, so think of them as teasers to get them to the next page.

CRITERIA: PROFESSIONAL-LOOKING AND APPEALING HOME PAGE
H. Does the home page use headers that clearly delineate the topics being covered and make it easy on the eyes?
Most of the items on the page look like headers but without the corresponding content.

I. Does the home page use cheesy clip art, stock photos, or bad animations?
No bad animations, which is great, but the home page does employ cheesy clip art and one stock photo. (I like the photo, by the way, but it could literally be used by any speakers club, band, singer-songwriter, conference organizer, or anyone who stands on a stage in the world.)

I recommend ditching the clip art and replacing the photo with smiling faces of club members around your banner, a club member speaking, or something/anything that makes it customized. This will also help with D above.

J. Does the home page look like a ransom note (i.e., does it have a lot of different fonts or different-sized fonts, a lot of different colors, a lot of centered text, that sort of thing)?
I believe you can really improve the look of this page. Currently there are lots of font sizes, a few font colors, a few fonts, random all-caps, random and inconsistent initial caps vs. cap-all-words, random centered text, lots of bold, odd spacing between lines.

I recommend reducing the “noise” of this page so that it looks less like a flyer on a bulletin board and more aesthetically cohesive and professional-looking.

OVERALL THOUGHTS
You definitely have most of the key elements in place. With a little more club-specific detail that grabs attention and a little tightening-up of the page so that it is less-flyery and more professional, I believe you’ll have a very good home page.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Brad Smith

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Tony Livernois, Webmaster
Northwest Suburban Toastmasters
northwestsuburbantmorg.toastmastersclubs.org/
Club #: 2860

Please Evaluate our Web Site http://1101858.toastmastersclubs.org/ 3 years 3 months ago #47844

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Elizabeth;

1. I agree with the RogerM comment regarding the number of new browser instances. If, when you define/edit the link in your 'button', and choose the "Target" tab, you can select "Same Window (_self)" option. A new instance will not open then, the page will just replace the one that was being displayed.

2. Personally, I think the red background in your left hand frames is too striking and makes links text a bit harder to read.

3. I love the "About Toastmasters" page and will try to put something like that on my club's site (see us at newalbanycommunicators.toastmastersclubs.org/ ). I'd like to know what the link is to that video you show at the bottom there as I'd like to also use it.

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Steve Guenther, SMSgt USAF (Ret), ACG, CL
Webmaster & Site Admin, New Albany Communicators (Club # 1293730)
TMC Website Address: 1293730.toastmastersclubs.org
Last Edit: by sguenthe. Reason: Left out a quote mark.

Please Evaluate our Web Site http://1101858.toastmastersclubs.org/ 3 years 1 month ago #48967

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Roger,
I finally have some time to review the comments. I appreciate the thoughtful review.

- Regarding the white background, it’s a concession to my web skills. I tried to get a little more personality on the home page and struggled with finding a look and feel. My original design had a lot more red in it and Steve advised me against it. Eventually I’d like to update it but for now I am going to live with it.

- I agree with the new pages thought. I changed it to same window.

- Our clubs don’t do a very good job sharing content about each other. It would be hard to do that and I’m not sure if it would help clarify when our meetings are or what is directly affiliated with our club. It would be great if Free ToastHost had some way to share calendars with a filter to just look at one club.

- I liked the idea of adding the club info to the membership pdf. That is done.

- Our current leadership has leaned away from this in public. We do have the private member directory for now. We use Facebook as our place for current club activities and projects. I know there is a way to add a facebook feed to the toasthost as I’ve seen it on other sites. That might be a good way to add this without more pages to maintain.

Thanks again for your review and ideas,
Elizabeth

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Please Evaluate our Web Site http://1101858.toastmastersclubs.org/ 3 years 1 month ago #48972

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Dear Tony,

I finally had time to review your note. Thank you for taking the time to evaluate our home page.

A. I moved the club differentiator and welcome to the top of the page. I think it is an improvement.
B. I had added the city from an earlier comment. I added a hyper link to it. My feeling is that we will over complicate the home page. My goal is to engage them to explore the pages. I think there is ample opportunity to locate our club, it is now in three places on the home page.
C. OK
D. Added a composite photo that shows a variety of activities from our members. Replaced stock photo.
E. OK
F. OK
G. Not sure I totally agree. I will think about how I might make it clearer that the home page is hyperlinks. I am not really sure about additional content as I already have a lot of content.
H. Not sure about what is meant here
I. Replace cheesy image with club photos
J. Noted. It’s tough as I am not a graphic designer and have no budget to use one. The branded color template insisted on by Toastmasters greatly limits how current the color palette can look. If you have an example of a Free Toasthost site with a great color scheme, I would love to see that.

Thanks again for the review, very much appreciated.
Elizabeth

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Please Evaluate our Web Site http://1101858.toastmastersclubs.org/ 3 years 1 month ago #48973

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Steve, thanks for looking over the site.

1. I modified the new window issue to use same window.
2. I struggle with the color scheme. If you have seen one you think really works with the branding colors offered by Toastmasters, that would be great.
3. Thanks.

All the best,
Elizabeth

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Please Evaluate our Web Site http://1101858.toastmastersclubs.org/ 3 years 1 month ago #48987

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Elizabeth;

I think you were indicating you weren't sure where to set colors for the web page. The color for the menus frame (on the left side of the screen) can be set using the "Appearance" tab from the "Admin Console" page Once there, you can set colors for lots of different parts of your site. I went the simple way and made ours all light blue while keeping the background color for the home page at white (this is set using the "Home Page" tab of the admin page). You can see what ours at http://newalbanycommunicators.toastmastersclubs.org/ .

I think your "How to join our club" idea is fantastic. I've gotten many calls from people asking just that question. Hmmmm, but then, when they do call, I get to talk to them and make the answer more personal. Hmmmmm, now I'm a bit torn between the two. :S

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Steve Guenther, SMSgt USAF (Ret), ACG, CL
Webmaster & Site Admin, New Albany Communicators (Club # 1293730)
TMC Website Address: 1293730.toastmastersclubs.org

Please Evaluate our Web Site http://1101858.toastmastersclubs.org/ 3 years 1 month ago #48988

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Steve, you have a lot of excellent content on your site as well. I like the instructional videos, something our district has been working on as well.

In the LA area it seems we almost NEVER use the phone anymore. Its text or email. Evidence suggests that our Meetup page is often a first point of contact, followed by our web site. Meetup gets a lot of sign ups with about 10 to 20 percent that actually show up. The web site gets less engagement, but a much higher percentages of new potential members who actually come to a meeting.

The whole color thing is hardly my strong suit. For now I'm focused on engaging content.

Thanks,
Elizabeth

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Please Evaluate our Web Site http://1101858.toastmastersclubs.org/ 3 years 1 month ago #48997

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Oh... here's something I meant to mention before but forgot. Check out the web site www.fiverr.com .

I thought of this when I saw your mention about not having a budget. Same here, but... I used a vendor from that web site to create the intro flash portion for a video I put together for our web site. You can see it on youtube at:

What some of our members think of Toastmasters

The great thing was... it only cost me $5.00 - yep... five bucks. Of course, I did have to put the rest of it together. However, what you might want to do would be different and perhaps much less involved. The web site is full of people that will do limited projects for as little as five dollars. You just might be able to find something there that would help.

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Steve Guenther, SMSgt USAF (Ret), ACG, CL
Webmaster & Site Admin, New Albany Communicators (Club # 1293730)
TMC Website Address: 1293730.toastmastersclubs.org

Please Evaluate our Web Site http://1101858.toastmastersclubs.org/ 3 years 1 month ago #49007

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That's great! They did that toastmaster intro? Can you give me the Fiverr.com name? I have used the service several times and the results have been positive. I almost feel bad its just 5 dollars....

Thanks!

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Please Evaluate our Web Site http://1101858.toastmastersclubs.org/ 3 years 1 month ago #49008

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Hi Elizabeth,

Thanks for considering my input. Here are some additional thoughts:

B. I’m glad you listed the city, but I still encourage you add the full address (along with other vital information). Also, I would like to suggest a revision to your goal, which I don’t believe should be to get them to explore your website; every other page on your site (except for member pages) are secondary to the need to provide the key information visitors need to get to a meeting. Having all vital information — club name, address/location, meeting dates/times — on the front page ensures that they don’t have to go looking for it. (See also H below.)

D. I really like the composite photo. Well done.

E. Hey, what happened to that cool Mark Twain quote? :)

G. See H.

H. Currently on the front page there is one piece of content, which is the paragraph at the top. The rest of the non-photo pieces of the page are comprised of headings “2013-14 President's Distinguished,” “About Toastmasters,” “President’s Welcome Message,” etc. When I land on this page the only content I can take away from it is that you are an inclusive club located in Studio City. Related to B above, I literally cannot get to your meeting without doing something more, which is to click not-so-obvious links not knowing what information I can expect to read after I click the links.

Besides adding vital information on this page, I suggest also adding some quick blurbs of content as sort of a preview of what’s on the other side of embedded links, blurbs that provide more information beyond the headings.

I guess what I’m saying is this: Make it easy for me, a potential visitor. If I can very quickly see that you have meetings that fit my schedule and that you are located close to me, I am much more likely to explore further and attend a meeting. If you make me hunt for that information, I am much more likely to stop exploring or attend a meeting. (Restaurant home pages are notorious for hiding vital information; I won’t go to restaurants that do hide it and make me hunt for it.)

I. Awesome!

J. I, too, struggle with color, but that wasn’t really what I was getting at here. The key concern is that the page didn’t have a cohesive look but instead had a lot of visual “noise.” Things are looking better than what I remember before, but the big, bolded paragraph of content on the top has no visual cohesion with the graphic that has massive arrows pointing to big headings containing clip art. This creates the visual noise that makes the page look cluttered.

The upside is that providing a cohesive look doesn't require graphics design skills or any budget. The key is to just make like things look alike. So, headings should have one look and every heading should look that way. Content should have one look and all content should look the same. Lists should have one look. Links should have one look. Having a cohesive look ties everything together and reduces visual noise.

(By the way, I suggest avoiding centered text on everything but the very top line — “2013-14 President's Distinguished” — and photo captions. Centering text gives a webpage the flyer-in-the-laundry-room effect.)

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any questions.

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Tony Livernois, Webmaster
Northwest Suburban Toastmasters
northwestsuburbantmorg.toastmastersclubs.org/
Club #: 2860

Please Evaluate our Web Site http://1101858.toastmastersclubs.org/ 3 years 1 month ago #49032

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Elisabeth;

The Fiverr vendor (his URL = www.fiverr.com/mtfreelancer ) created the initial intro, which I tacked on at the beginning and ending of the video. You should explore his web site for all of the different jobs he can do. I don't know if you can get to see this one or not ( Example of what he started with for me ). He just plugs in what you give him and out it comes. I supplied the TM logo with the wording as a TIF file, he put it together, gave me instructions on how to pick it up. Once I got it I tacked on the videos of club member comments I had previously recorded and added his bit again at the end, this all using video software I have. I ended up with an MP4 file that I uploaded to YouTube and added the code to our FTH site.

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Steve Guenther, SMSgt USAF (Ret), ACG, CL
Webmaster & Site Admin, New Albany Communicators (Club # 1293730)
TMC Website Address: 1293730.toastmastersclubs.org
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