How well is your amateur radio club’s website working?

March 17, 2013 Dan KB6NU

When I stepped down as our club’s president a couple of years ago, I also gave up responsibility for the club website. At that time, it was decided to move the website from the web hosting company I was using to a server connected to the network at a local community college, where one of our members taught part-time. The rationale was that since there would be no web hosting fees, the club would save money.

Unfortunately, this has proven to be a case of being “penny wise, but pound foolish.” About every six months, the site seems to go down for a week or so. The first time this happened, there was a problem was with the community college’s network, and because this use of the network wasn’t a high priority for the college’s IT staff, the site was down for quite a while.

The most recent outage was due to memory failure. The failure was first reported a week ago, and as I’m writing this, the site has yet to be fully restored. The timing of this was unfortunate, as our monthly meeting was held on Wednesday, March 13, and since the website was down, there was really no way for anyone to get details.

My intent here is not to disparage the volunteers running the website. Having done it myself for a couple of years, I know it’s a thankless job, and I thank them for their service. Even so, I think website hosting is one of those things best not left volunteers, especially when suitable web hosting services can be had for less than $100/year.

The website is, after all, your club’s biggest PR piece, and if it’s not working, or if the information is out of date, or if the design is lousy, you’re not making a very good good case for your club. Seriously, would you consider patronizing a business whose website was out of date or that you couldn’t access at all?

Several members got their hackles up over this last outage, and it’s looking like we’ll be moving the site back to a web hosting service again. Not only that, several members, including me, have offered to help out in some way with the website. So, over all, I think this latest outage has proven to be a good thing. If we do it right, we might even have several people submitting content.

I’ll update this post in about six months and keep you apprised of our progress. Of course, you could just go to the website and see for yourself.

Coincidentally, a fellow posted a link to HamRadioWebsites.Net in a message to the AmateurRadioLeadership Yahoo Group. This looks like a relatively new service that helps clubs set up websites and produces e-mail newsletters for clubs.

While I think this is an interesting idea, I have several questions about taking this approach:

  1. Can a service like this really be effective if those that are creating the website and newsletter are not part of the club? After all, someone still has to come up with the club-related content.
  2. If there aren’t some members engaged enough to do these kinds of things (we call them “club service” in Rotary), are they going to be engaged enough to do anything at all?

What do you think? Will HamRadioWebsites.Net be successful? How does your club handle its website and newsletter needs?

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