Does anyone else have a pack website? If so I would like to see some to see how I can improve ours. If anyone would like to see ours, the web address is: http://pack432.110mb.com/index.html
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- Dec 2005
Too many words! reduce the front page clutter to the bear essentials with click out links to all the expanded stuff. Decide who your primary customer is and gear the web site to them is it a recruiting tool, for the boys, for the parents, or for the leaders. All of the other stuff can be there but it all should not go on the front page. One of the more successful packs in our area web site is here:
We are one of (surprisingly) few Packs in our District that has a website.
You have a ton of information on the home page. Maybe simplify it into other categories that folks can click on. Make the News stuff into a newsletter maybe.
- Aug 2007
Scottteng is correct, the home page is information overload. First off, decide if the primary purpose of the website is for promoting to potential members, informing current members, or both. The site design can then be tailored to that purpose. Our pack trasitioned to a new web provider last year and a couple of us have been working on improving it. Currently it's primary purpose is as an information port for pack members. As such, it is fairly utilitarian and a work in progress. I aim to develop the potential Cub side of it. Unfortunately, while the provider makes transition to new webmasters pretty easy and allows non-web savey people to handle it, it is fairly limited. You can see it here.
The purpose of the site is to get information to the parents. Seeing as though this is cub scouts, its not intended for the scouts themselves. The Pack wanted to have updates on the main page (which is a majority of the main page). I tried to use the main page as a place where you could get the most important info ... i.e: Changes, Upcomming events, Announcements, ect. More detailed information can be found on the other pages. Perhaps I need to rethink it.
- Mar 2004
Have you had someone self audit against the following:
BSA Organizational Identity for Councils AND Units
Advice for personal and unit Web sites
Have you read your local Council web guidelines, and self-audited to ensure full compliance?
FOR PACK 7: YOU HAVE FULL NAMES OF YOUTH MEMBERS ON ONE OF YOUR PAGES. NOT GOOD (no personal identity of youth member National policy)
first, its clear that someone has put in a tremendous effort into designing the graphics of the main pack site, but the dens are a complete disaster. that said...
PLEASE -- your web site is SO out of compliance with BSA policies!
The ask.com link MUST come down
The weather forecast (which says Accuweather and another that says weather bug) -- MUST come down
The Google ad banners are NOT acceptable -- there cannot be ads of any kind!
I'm sure that the volunteers are well meaning, but there is so much here that goes against BSA policies. Make the changes quickly.
- Dec 2007
Nice work. You obviously put allot of time and thought into this. Very few websites put in the online help, FAQ, and support contact information. I offer some feedback.
1. Compliance not an issue
First, there are NO BSA website rules that a UNIT MUST be in compliance.
"There are no national guidelines or policies regarding Unit Web sites because units are "owned" by their chartered organizations. Therefore, any unit Web site belongs to the chartered organization or the individual who operates the site, not the BSA.
While the BSA does provide advice for those who operate unit Web sites, which can be found here, the BSA does not have the ability to compel units to comply with this advice.
Councils that wish to provide links to unit Web sites have an opportunity to require units to comply with this advice by granting a link only to units that meet these conditions (and any other the council wishes to apply) ... however, even in those cases, the council cannot compel a unit to comply by any means other than withholding such a link."
As always when someone throws a rule at you, ask where does it say that? Even our council has a search engine link. And you council website http://www.northernstarbsa.org/ has ads on its website.
And it is a good idea to have a weather link on your website for activity planning. Personally I prefer the National Weather Service for the updated radar maps http://www.nws.noaa.gov/. Your hosting service claims no-ads hosting.
Common sense allows applies.
Posting personal information - full names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses is not a good idea. Creating alias e-mail accounts with mail forwarding is common, mail sent to cubmaster@pack423..com ->> goes to whoever is cubmaster.
Posting your travel itinerary should be password protected like your discussion blog or not online at all. It is not a good idea to tell the world the specifics of where you are going and when. After the activity is completed, no problem.
Also as mentioned, your council may have some guidelines that they want followed if they are to provide a link from the council website to yours. They may object to ads, though they have some themselves.
2.Legal use of BSA trademarks - not an issue. If you stick to promoting scouting activities and not commercial businesses, you are covered by internet "fair use" policies (both copyright and trademark).
3. Homepage layout. Think about what you want to draw attention to first and how you want the user's eye to traverse the homepage. Usually the eye will be drawn to a photo or graphic first. My eye sees a picture of what looks like a boarded-up abandoned building? Sorry, get a picture of some lively, smiling scouts doing some scout activity. Some thumbnail photos of activities might be good for the homepage.
You have a sea of visually indistinct information. Some information is fairly static "How to join Pack", some is "breaking news". Try to visually separate them - different column, font, or my favorite background color (maybe bgcolor=#FFFFFF for news cells, bgcolor=#D3D3D3.
Keep the homepage updated and changing. Change photo and graphics periodically or make website more dynamic - photo sequencer.
4. Think about what webpages your users will want to print out and if your layout accommodates.
5. Think about ease of maintenance. Try to reduce the number of pages you have to update each week. Can others upload content, particularly photos or just the webmaster?
6. Some photos, even the thumbnails, should be compressed to display faster. Some photos were, some were not. BTW good photos.
7. Navigating from Den 1 website is an adventure.
Anyway my $0.02, keep up the good work.
- Nov 2003
Updates are great, but when they're no longer current, they should come off the page. (How long ago was your Pinewood/B&G, etc?)
Thought I would chime back in here.
Our District had a class on websites and newsletters at the last Pow-Wow. Safety was the biggest concern everyone had. No complete names. First name can be okay, but even then, use extreme discretion.
The topic of banners and ads did come up, since not all Packs or Troops can afford their own domain name. Many, like us, use a service like Clubspaces, and cannot get away from advertisements. The Commissioner that taught the class said that there would be no way to get around this. He did mention to not put banner ads on your site if you don't have to have them though. Sponsors are different.
Just my two cents.
Letter of the law vs spirit of the law. As Scouters we need to live by the spirit of the law -- and not "get by" using the words as an excuse...
Advertisements and Banners
Councils are prohibited from endorsing commercial products or services in any medium, including the Internet. Banner advertisements for commercial products and services are thus inappropriate for council Web sites. (NOTE: any use of the Internet for fund-raising is subject to the same policies and procedures as other fund-raising activities.)
Another popular type of banner on the Internet provides site owners with free promotion on other Web sites in exchange for promoting other sites on theirs. Though not strictly a commercial endorsement, these banners remain unacceptable because they provide a highly visible link from the council site to others, and the council does not control either the graphic that is displayed or the site to which it links - one or both may be patently inappropriate.
Come on -- if the BSA says this is in appropriate for councils -- its certainly inappropriate for units.
The cost of domain registration and site hosting is so minimal now, that's really not a barrier. You can do this for less than $100/year....
And the site you note -- I see NO banner ads on this site
On the home page there is a rotating java based gif -- that's a pictoral with events -- NO ADS!
This pack site does not live up to the "spirit" of the BSA -- as I noted above. It sets a bad example for scouts and their parents -- Scouters should know and do better.
I'm going to be blunt -- don't do it at all if its not done right.
- Apr 2005
Haven't tried it myself yet, but www.scoutdata.com looks like a good source for free hosting without ads.
- May 2002
cubdadinnj - The rules you stated are for BSA COUNCIL Web pages. There is no letter vs spirit of the law here, it is pretty cut and dried.
Council Web pages are owned and operated by the Council. BSA Council's are owned by the BSA National organization. The BSA National organization has every right to make rules stating what should and should not be on THEIR Web sites.
As stated in the BSA quote by the other poster, Unit Web sites are NOT owned by BSA. They are owned by the units Charter Organization. If the CO has no objection to banner ads, than that, as they say, is that.
- Sep 2008
Our Pack is using Blogspot. It is easy to use first of all. Currently I, the Cubmaster, am handling the posting. But it will be easy to pass on to the next generation of leaders.
Google has bought out blogspot and has added a lot of functionality to blog postings. It is not a full blown webpage but it doeas allow you to do more than before.
THe most important function of a Pack website is to get the info to the Parents. And a Blog is perfect for this.
Check us out: http://pack112.blogspot.com
- Sep 2008