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 1920 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.
If you want to store a lot of photographs, we can offer additional storage at £10 per annum for up to 5GB.
You can display PDF files and most Microsoft Office documents directly on your site. We use a plugin which makes use of Microsoft’s Office 365 services to display documents directly in your web page. This can be useful for larger documents such as a club accounts spreadsheet.
If you produce a monthly newsletter with an archive of older ones then we’d recommend only displaying the current version directly and providing a simple download link for the archived ones so that members can download and view offline if they wish. If you have a whole set of documents displayed, the screen gets very cluttered and it is harder for members to find the file they want.
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 at the moment.
I 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.
In general we recommend only putting up things which are suitable for public access. 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.
If you have your own domain name and wish to continue using it for your site then we can do that. You will have to continue to pay for your domain name registration, for which you will have to pay your domain name registrar. Typically this will cost you £5-10/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.
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 generic address such as email@example.com, forwarded to your private email account. This avoids publishing your private email address on the website.
If you are using your own domain name then we can set up forwarders such as firstname.lastname@example.org, again forwarding to a club or private email address.
If you want a proper mailbox with your own domain name we suggest looking at Zoho Mail. There is a forever-free service offering 5GB mail storage and a single custom domain which is accessible as webmail. If don’t like webmail and want to use Outlook or another email client, then you need POP/IMAP access, for which you’d need a paid subscription, but these are very reasonably priced.
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.