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What's wrong with our website?

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First, your published link has an extra period in it so it doesn't work.


After I removed the period, I was presented with a very busy/noisy site. Lots of bells and whistles, my eyes glossed over trying to find info. Scrolling text might look cool, but its info value is zero and becomes quite annoying quickly.


You also require registration to access the site.

That will kill any informational website. Sure, some sections should be restricted, but the majority of your information is public or should be. Scout names, ranks and other information put behind the wall, everything else, leave it on the porch.


You say parents, members and leaders doen't use the site. I'd say its because from my impression, the site tries to be a one stop shop for all information scouting related. Focus, focus, focus. Give them quick and easy access to the information they need. Schedules, forms and contacts. If you want to be a portal for more, link it but don't push it on the front page. Each page should focus on a single message. Including the top page. Then related links to other pages should be presented. You aren't trying to be CNN Headline news, you want to be a dictionary.


Ideal unit websites should be very specific on what you do, how you do it , when you do it, and who does it.

THe top page should have a picture of your unit doing something special. Swap it out every month. It should just say "Hey! Here we are!"

From there, links should take anyone still interested into the depths of your unit. Your schedule, your organization, your CO, etc. Keep it simple, get the necessary info out.


My humble opinion only.

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Thanks for looking at our homepage and providing some insight. We may perhaps remove some of the front page summaries and encourage folks to dig further into the site. Great idea! If you don't mind, could you check out some of the other pages available through the menu system and provide additional feedback?


Perhaps a moderator can correct the link in my previous message to www.unit193.org with no extra period. We really didn't intend for it to be part of the link it was intended to be a grammatical insert.


We have already clarified the registration request for the site. We only require registration for to post on our forums and it's also a level of security for member only areas.


Thanks again for the feedback!(This message has been edited by webscout193)(This message has been edited by webscout193)(This message has been edited by webscout193)

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Hello Webscout,


I'll agree with some of GB's critiques of your site; it is pretty busy and would take some getting used to to know where on the page to look for what you want. I designed and published a basic web-site for our Troop. We (the SM & ASM's) decided that the most common reason that a parent would visit our site would be to see the meeting and outing schedules. The page was very simple with two panes. The right pane was our "Upcoming Events" page. Here we listed the next few outings and dates of those outings in a medium-large font size with links to more information and permission slips right under the title of the event. In the left pane we had links to different pages for the Troop and to our Council's page.


Having planned how to make if most useful, and promoting it for two years in Troop meetings and COH's, we still had only one of our boys from the Troop and Zero parents who used the site. So, how do you get them to use it? I had some thoughts and actually tried them, but my job requirements made it difficult for me to follow through. Needless to say, they didn't work because of that.


One of the things I wanted to try was to have hidden links on the site to pages of information that only those who found the hidden links would know. Anyone who found the information would get a prize (candy bar, sharpening stone, ...).


Another thing that did work, while I had time to do it, was again to have hidden messages and links buried in the site. These links would be to pages to help the Scout "be prepared" for the next meeting. The Scout that was totally prepared based on what was hidden on the site would get a prize like a new pocket knife, flashlight or other camp gadget. The Scouts never knew when the pages would be updated or at which meeting I would question them on their preparedness. So, if they did not visit the pages before the meeting, they would not know the latest thing that I'd be looking for or the latest skill that I'd want to see demonstrated to consider them prepared. Typically, it would take 3 or 4 meetings before there was a Scout that would win the prize. Once the prize was won, I'd let the Scouts know that over the next few weeks I'd be updating the preparedness skills and items on the web-site and then at some future meeting I'd begin quizzing them on preparedness again.


Here's an example of a preparedness skill that I had on our site. It was linked by a hidden link on the homepage. You could only find it by clicking on different areas of the page until you found it. You could also hit "print preview" and see the link. Anyway here's the example:


At the meeting, I'd show the first picture and see if any of the boys could find polaris. The boys that knew how to find it, were prepared. After three or four questions, we were usually done and had eliminated everyone or found the Scout that was "prepared".



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Thanks ASM59!!


While I appreciate the critiquing of our website from others (which we put into action), you actually understood the real question. I appreciate your insight and understanding of our issue. We're gonna solicit more input from our members and member of other troops in the DFW area. Perhaps with their input on the website coupled with the idea that we want their input about the program in general may generate some interest overall. It should be interesting and fun. Thanks again!!!




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Some of it is simply the uphill challenge of getting people to use the web for day-to-day information. Even though virtually everyone in my troop has access to e-mail and the web, some check it once a week at best.


I echo the thoughts the others have expressed. Try to determine what your ultimate reason for the site is. Potential reasons are commuinicating to members, recruiting, or pride in unit. All of these are valid, but require different focus. You can try to meet more than one purpose, but if you try to do all equally, you end up with a cluttered site that is hard to follow.


I like ASM59's ideas. He's trying to build what we call "viral interest". By building interest in these "hidden messages" he has developed a following from the boys who want to find the information. It's like when KFC ran that commercial that required you to go frame-by-frame with your Tivo to see it, or back when bands put backwards lyrics on their albums so fans would spend hours trying to figure out the meanings.


I've found that many (if not most) people will generally only use the web when the have to. I used to print out advancement status reports, unit calendars, rosters, and other information periodically and make them available to the troop. I've stopped doing all that because it's available on the website. To a certain degree you have to use this "tough love" approach with your families. When someone calls and asks for that trip information, tell them to check the web. If they want a unit calendar, remind them of the URL...


Similarly, when I notice people asking me for specific information on a repeated basis, I try to figure out a way to put it on the website. I'm about to set up a way for us to manage our e-mail lists, because everyone currently has their own and it's causing communication issues. Figure out what those things are and put them on your site.


Finally, I remind them as often as possible of the website. At one COH I mentioned it so many times that it became a running joke for a while. "IT'S ON THE WEBSITE!", was the battle cry. Eventually, folks stopped asking me for the info they knew was out there.


Good luck!

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I have some experience with this sort of thing, so here's my take on it.


I'm thinkin' your website is mostly going to be used for a)recruiting new members and b)information about upcoming events.


So for part A, you should really put a face on your group as much as possible. What does your group like to do? How many of each age group do you have? What is your groups history? Favorite memories? What are the backgrounds of the group leaders? Put photos up - leaders especially.


For part B, you want a simple way to find out about upcoming events - which you have, so that's good. I'd lose the scrolling announcement thing - those are a little annoying. Just have them be static. Make the calendar a prominent link on the main page or even put it on the main page. So then parents can go, "isn't there something happening this week? Oh, there it is!" and be done with it.


Have you looked into Google calendar? This thing is great - you can share your calendar with people, and parents can simply add your group's calendar to their own google calendar. And you can put a google calendar on your desktop so that it's always there in front of you. I think it's still in beta, though. But I love it.


I think you're really just concerned about general communication. Does your group have an email list? This is usually the way to go unless you have so much communication that the # of emails gets overwhelming. We use Google groups (yeah, Google is taking over the world, don't you know) for this. People are more likely to use email (passive) over a message board (which you need to actively go to). If the email gets out of hand, then switch to a message board.


Guestbooks, games, news feeds - these are just "fluff" and you don't really need them.


Hope this helps a little!




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  • 1 month later...



I think it's the mix of Pack and Troop info. New parents and some boys may not know where to go. Perhaps a front page with two logo's 1. Click here for Troop 2. Click here for Pack. The second page (my opinion) should have three columns.


Left side - Calendar with enough detail

Middle - Events top to bottom in chronological order

Right side - Updates, notifications, etc


Here are the site's




To get parents and scouts to use the site we did the following:

1. Stopped with the two or three mass emails every week.

2. Stopped passing out a zillion handouts at troop meetings. Permission slips, info sheets, updates, schedule changes.


Now we do this

1. Send out a mass email when the web site is updated



The web site has been updated

- pictures from "such and such trip"

- January date changes



Parents AND scouts will get into the habit of checking once they miss an event or two. We simply stopped the hand holding and made them responsible for keeping up to date --as if we didn't have enought to do ;-)




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I kind of had the same problem you had. What we started doing is promoting the website at pack meeting ad Den meeting to get more info about the upcoming events... Also the Photo Gallery was updated pretty regularly with pictures of everybody's sons so they wanted to come to the site. I took over http://www.cspack378.org/ in November and it has had a good turn out. Also we have a newsletter that sends updates to the leaders and parents......... Good luck with the website



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Your privacy statement where you indicate that IP addresses, personal info, computer info are all collected on people using the site can be a little intimidating.


I have a firewall that protects against such information going out on my machine so I'm not too worried.


The page has not been updated for 2 weeks. Old news, or at least an indication of old news. (I'm sure stuff doesn't change that often, but last update info with a date a ways back indicates the page may not be attended to on a regular basis.)


Too much info right off the bat.


Need a splitter screen immediately, one sending to troop activity, the other to pack activity. Each unit needs its own site.


Just a couple of things to think about.






(This message has been edited by jblake47)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here is my two cents:


You webmaster obviously has good web skills. I too have designed more than a couple unit websites and alot of work has gone into the site. The most obvisous problem in a nutshell: Your website is trying to do too much.


For a unit there are general just a couple of reasons to use a website:


1) Calendar for the coming months...you cannot have too much information on the calendar.

2) Pictures of boys having fun. Scouts, Scouters and parents/grandparents will download pictures of their scout. Try to get pictures of every scout on an outing.

3) Written resources...forms, links to forms, links to district, council and national.

4) Newsletter...chronicle your troop at least once a month and keep previous months. Build links to your site into the newsletter...photos and upcoming events.


Your site is a good site, but it is overly busy...SIMPLIFY...Split the cubs from the scouts.

We promote our unit site every meeting. We have one webmaster that will update the site during the meeting. You must keep the site current. Usually a scout or parent will give you two tries...if the site does not work for them then you have lost them.


This site show the dedication of the webmaster! With some refinement, this will be a great site.


--Happy Scouting


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