Website Design: How to Make a Good First Impression that Lasts
You know that a good website is essential to the success of your club. But creating a great site for your audience—youth sports families—is easier said than done. This guide—informed by our Design Shop experts, creators of hundreds of websites for organizations like yours—includes everything you need to make a site that does its job not only right away but over time too.
First, here are the four characteristics of all effective websites.
- They are easily discoverable. If someone is googling for a youth program in your town, your site should pop up early in the search. You only have so much control over that, so it’s crucial to work with developers who can lay the appropriate groundwork for you—from submitting your sitemap to search engines, to populating SEO meta tags, to optimizing the site for mobile.
- They explain who you are and what you do. Visitors to your site should leave with a sense of your philosophy, approach, and reason for existence. Highlight your coaches and why they’re qualified, show your facility if you have one, and remember that people are often too busy to read a lot of words, so use photography whenever you can.
- They know who the target audience is. About that photography—make sure the images are of kids in the relevant age groups: If you’re using pictures of teens to promote your program for 4-year-olds, you’re telling the wrong story. And that will just confuse prospective families.
- They contain valuable resources and communications: Think of your site as a one-stop shop for all the information you think is important to put into the world. YouTube training videos, Instagram player highlights, registration resources … they all need to be either included or linked for quick and easy access.
Then, think user friendliness above all.
In design speak, this is known as good UI/UX (user interface/user experience), which means:
- Visitors need to be able to find what they are looking for—say registration or schedules—without having to click on multiple pages or links.
- You want to keep it simple, with clear messages (both written and visual) and not a lot of items competing for the reader’s attention.
- The site looks nice and works well on mobile even more than on a desktop. At least half of your traffic will come from smartphones.
And now, a few more “do’s”:
- Present yourself in the best light. Take the time to think about design elements like logos, fonts, style, and colors. It’s an easy way to stand out. One trick: reflect elements from your logo, like colors and shapes, throughout the site. That will help give things a cohesive look. Strong photography is extremely important, but strong doesn’t have to mean professional. Contributions from parents will work just fine too and, if all else fails, you can make stock photos work. Parents—and coaches—can offer valuable feedback during the design process too.
- Update regularly. Think of your website as a car, because it requires regular maintenance. This means you—or better yet, a colleague with fresh eyes—should look things over every few months to make sure links still work, the information is up-to-date and accurate, and no errors have been inserted. Since you’re likely not an expert coder, you’ll need updating your site to be turnkey. That’s where easy to edit pages (like the ones we create at LeagueApps for our partners) come in. This makes it simple to do everything from updating photos to sharing updates with families. If you have to wait for a designer to do the work, you miss valuable opportunities to tell your story and keep people up to speed.
- Finally, pick a design team who has a little skin in the game. When considering creative partners for this project, do the scouting necessary to find people who have played in this arena before. Look through their portfolios to make sure the bulk of their experience isn’t in fashion or food or that they just use the same templates over and over.
In the end, many small businesses have no choice but to work with agencies or independent developers, but as a youth sports organization, you have an alternative. At LeagueApps, we offer web design services to our customers. In fact, creating websites for youth sports leagues is all that our Design Shop does, and we work to make it as affordable for you as possible. We succeed when you succeed.
And if you don’t work with LeagueApps? Make sure the team you choose is committed to raising your game. You need to trust them to keep their eye on your prize: driving registrations while creating a lasting communal experience that you can control.
Learn more about League Apps Design Shop here.