This service provides a website facility for Probus Clubs in the UK, enabling individual clubs to present an up-to-date profile on the web which is both easy to maintain and affordable.
All club sites have a common ‘family’ look and provide all the essential information for that club. Clubs can email that information to us and we will update their site annually when a new programme of events is arranged and a committee elected.
Each club site is completely self-contained and if you wish we can provide a club login so the club’s webmaster can update or customise the site themselves, adding as many extra pages as they like such as news, stories and photo galleries. This is all done using a web browser with no need for web design software, nor any specialist knowledge. Importantly, it will be possible for clubs to opt in or out of this at any time, depending on whether they have someone willing and able to update their site or not.
In either case we look after the technical maintenance of the site, ensuring that the WordPress software is kept up to date, that the site meets current web standards and that the look doesn’t become ‘stale’ over time. We also provide any technical support needed.
The website service uses the WordPress website building platform which is extended with a number of plugins to offer facilities which are generally useful for club sites. However we have tried to keep costs to a minimum and as a consequence there is a limit to what we can offer. This page gives further details on what you can (and can’t) do.
WordPress is quite flexible and although our demo sites have a very simple structure, one of them being a single page, you can use any structure you like. The menu system will accommodate sub-menus, to several levels if you need them, and there is no limit on the number of pages you can add to your site, although we would recommend keeping things simple for your users!
You can upload your own photographs and display them individually or in galleries. Galleries are good for a collection of photographs as they are displayed initially as thumbnails, so you can see what’s in the collection, and then as full-screen images when you click on a thumbnail.
Photographs you upload get compressed and reduced in size such that the longest dimension is no more than 2048 pixels. This is lower resolution than a digital camera will produce but a good size for web display, and it reduces the stored size to around 100-200KB per photograph. We generally allow clubs up to 100MB of storage, which with the compression represents a good number of photographs.
Videos do not get compressed and quickly consume a lot of your 100MB allocation. However you can upload videos to a free video sharing website such as YouTube, Vimeo or DailyMotion, and just past a link into your web page. This will embed the remote video so that it still appears on your page, but is actually stored remotely.
You can upload PDF files and most Microsoft Office documents to your site. They won’t be displayed directly, but you can create a link to the file so the document can be downloaded and viewed separately by clicking the link. This is useful for formal documents which are viewed less frequently, such as reports, newsletters or accounts.
If you use a Google Calendar, it is possible to embed that on the website to show events. When you add an event to your Google Calendar it will also appear on the website.
Whilst it is possible to provide member-only areas, in most cases we recommend not doing so. Potential new members coming to your site will want to get an idea of what you do, and if there are pages which include club rules and the like which are only of interest to members, they will just move on to a different page. As a general rule, unless it is something that should definitely not be seen by outsiders, you can leave it visible.
Restricted areas are not always straightforward. Whilst WordPress does provide the option to password protect individual pages, you have to remember to protect each page individually (and with the same password, unless you want your members to type a different password for each of the pages). Also it is only the pages themselves which are protected. If you provide a link to a separate document, such as a membership list, that document will not be separately protected so anyone who finds out the web address for that document can download it. The better way to do this is with individual member logins, but that isn’t something we offer as these sites are kept deliberately simple.
If you use sign-up sheets, you might want to put a password on that page to avoid practical jokers signing up for your events as Mickey Mouse.
We would strongly advise against putting a membership list online, even on a password protected page, as it only offers a low level of security. Under data protection regulations, and especially the more recent GDPR, you have a duty of care to your members for the safety of their personal data. A list of members names might be considered acceptable, but a list of phone numbers and email addresses almost certainly would not.
We provide you with an individual login to your own site so you can update it yourself. Your initial password will be a random selection of letters and numbers. You can change this to something more memorable, but the system enforces strong passwords and will reject anything it considers too weak. A good method of choosing long passwords it to string together several unrelated words, e.g. aardvarkmauvepotato, which is long, looks nonsensical but is easier to remember than random letter combinations.
Changing passwords regularly is no longer recommended, nor using character substitutions such as 1 for L or 3 for E as hacking robots will try these automatically. You can find more information on current best practice on the WordPress site.
Another way to keep track of your ever increasing number of passwords is to use a password manager, also mentioned on that page.
You can use one of our domain names (probusclub.net or probus.org.uk) for free, and your site will appear as a ‘folder’ within that domain, e.g. https://probus.org.uk/ambridge/
If you prefer to use a custom domain name, e.g. ambridgeprobus.org.uk, then you can do that too. Domain names cost a little extra but make the site look more ‘your own’. About 30% of clubs using this service choose to use their own domain name. There is no great advantage in terms of people finding your club, it’s just a matter of personal preference.
If you already have your own domain name and wish to continue using it for your new site then you can do that. You will continue to pay your domain name registrar for this service, typically £8-20/year, although prices can vary quite a lot. When you are ready to make the new site go live we will ask you to change the name servers for your domain name. You can do that yourself or ask your domain registrar to do it for you. Contact us if you are unsure. If you were also paying them for hosting, you can cancel that once the new site is live, but don’t cancel your domain name registration!
Alternatively, if you would like us to register and manage your domain name for you, we can do that too for a nominal extra charge.
We are not able to provide separate mailbox facilities. You can use your own private email address or you can create a new (free) account with gmail, hotmail, outlook, yahoo, etc. We suggest creating a generic club account name such as firstname.lastname@example.org. This means you can pass on the entire account to the next club secretary when the job changes hands.
If you are using the probusclub.net domain name then we can offer email forwarding from a single generic address such as email@example.com to your private email account. This avoids publishing your private email address on the website.
If you are using your own domain name then it is possible to set up a forwarder such as firstname.lastname@example.org, again forwarding to a club or personal email address.
The down side to using forwarders is that when the job of secretary is passed on to another person in the club, the email history and contact details are still in the first secretary’s private account.
Once your site is up and running you will want to make sure it is listed in the places people usually look. You will be added to the directory of clubs on this site automatically, but there are two other well known directories that should be updated. You can find the details of those at the bottom of the directory of clubs page.
Helping prospective members to find you
One of the main reasons for having a website is so that prospective new members can find you when they are looking for something to do with their new found free time. Generally we find that our club websites come near the top of searches when someone looks for a specific Probus club. But what if they don’t know that Probus exists? They might search for ‘retirement activity ambridge’, so it is important that the introductory text on your site contains a description of what a Probus club is, as well as what your club does. Have a look at the websites of some of the other clubs in the directory for inspiration.
Normally we recommend using a separate website for each club. However there are some instances where a group of clubs want to be covered by an ‘umbrella’ site. Some of these may have their own websites, but the group website underlines the working relationship.
As this is a single website, the header at the top of the page will be the same for all pages, so it needs to reflect the name of the group, not an individual club.
Your user login gives you access to the individual pages for all clubs in the site, not just your own club. For clubs which want to make regular updates to their site content, an individual club site would be better.
What we don’t do
This service is deliberately simple and is intended to provide a basic website at the lowest possible cost. The way we do that is by using a common design for all sites and not providing custom features or extensive design consultation. In simple terms ‘it is what it is’.
If you would like to use this service for your own club website, take a look at the Information Needed page so you can gather together all the relevant details, and then simply email them to us.