Reviewing Michigan All Breed Dog Club Websites
I looked at all the websites I could find for Michigan all breed dog clubs while reviewing the AKC Webinar on website best practices. These dog cub websites vary widely in quality and some clubs have opted to have a Facebook page in lieu of a website. In my opinion, the Grand Rapids Kennel Club is the best club website, so I reached out to the club to get some insight on why.
Grand Rapids Kennel Club’s Site is Engaging and Responsive
The site homepage features a carousel of three beautiful photos of purebred dogs, and at the time I first visited, a promotional button for a special event. Membership, event, and breeder referral links are all “above the fold” and visible on the screen when viewed on a PC. The club’s community service activities, mission, and upcoming events are featured farther down the page along with more photos of purebred dogs in action. The site is optimized for mobile devices so that the experience is similar on all device types.
Developing the Site
I reached out to the club via their “contact us” link and quickly heard back from Carol Lynn Johnson, the club AKC delegate and driving force behind the current website, which launched in October 2018, replacing a site with a dated look. Carol and fellow club member Pat Cromeyer designed the website with inspiration from the Labrador Retriever Club’s site. The current site was created in WordPress by Woodchuck Arts, a digital marketing firm with a variety of clients. This did indeed cost money, but they believed the return on investment to present the club as a modern organization which cared about both dogs and community, was worth it.
How It’s Working
The club’s goal was to create a website that would attract millennials and younger people to the club, and so far it seems to be working. Carol cited that they recently welcomed a young member who said the website was a major factor attracting her to this club. The club showcases not only its shows but also the multiple ways it gives back to the local community through donations, including donations to benefit working dogs in their county sheriff’s department.
Carol said they have just recently implemented Google Analytics on the site, and are waiting to collect a full month of data, but are planning to examine sources of traffic and see which sections of the site are most popular. There are three administrators, they update the content as appropriate, roughly once a month. Woodchuck Arts also scans the site monthly to make sure links and code are up to date and that the site is optimized to reflect any changes in search algorithms. The Grand Rapids Kennel Club also maintains Facebook and Instagram accounts, which are managed by a separate team.
This site has a private login area for members. The members-only area houses copies of club newsletters, updated members and breeders list, and a section where members can share brags about their dogs’ accomplishments.
What About My Dog Club Website?
There are a number of other Michigan dog club websites that are attractive and responsive, i.e. created so they are easy to read on not only a desktop but also on mobile devices. If your club’s site is not one of them consider an upgrade. Hiring a professional web design firm will cost money, but the return on investment can be huge. A modern website engages people and can bring in new, younger members, drive public attendance to your events, and position club members as experts on dog issues.
What I Recommend
I personally recommend WordPress, but there are other options as well. If you have no website or web address at all, there are WordPress.com options that are available for no cost. For as little as $48 a year you can upgrade to a version that lets you use your existing web address and eliminate advertising. One of the advantages of Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress is that that they can be updated by someone without web coding skills. Multiple people can be assigned roles to maintain the site without having the power to seriously muck it up.