How to create your clubs website for free
So, your club wants a website, and you have stepped up to the plate to try and get them one… with, if like my club, no budget.
You are not alone, we spoke to loads of clubs who would like to do the same.
From speaking to clubs from a variety of sports while compiling our article 8 Reasons Your Club Needs A Website we would go as far as to say how to to do it is on the minds of hundreds if not thousands of clubs around the world.
To help you all out and point you in the direction of specific tools that help your club get online, we have prepared a list of the most popular options for you to look at for your clubs new site.
Five ways to create your clubs website completely free
Here are some of the best tools you can use to create a website for your club entirely free:
WordPress.com* is a complete package of online software that you can use to create a free website for your club.
The main thing to know here is that its “online software”, which means that you don’t need to install any programs on your computer.
WordPress is an incredibly versatile piece of kit, its used by some of the most significant brands in the world, brands such as The Dallas Mavericks, Sport NI, Andy Murray and Usain Bolt to name a few. It is also the platform, or content management system, which is used the most with over 30% of websites on the internet being made with its software.
However, like most of the options listed below, to get the best out of it you are better going with one of the paid versions, either on WordPress.org or WordPress.com where you can gain greater freedom with modifications and personalisations.
Pros and Cons of WordPress*
- The most popular website management system of them all.
- Open source.
- Gives you full control of your website at all times. You can do whatever you want with it.
- Incredibly versatile – can run any site.
- Hundreds of free themes/designs available.
- Great community of developers – you’ll always be able to find help if you get stuck.
- The free version is a sub-domain, i.e. www.portrushhockey.wordpress.com
- If you want to use your clubs domain, it’s no longer exactly free. – A domain name is usually £10 annually.
- If you get you want to use a theme you’ve purchased, then you have to upgrade or use a wordpress.org version, i.e. with your hosting
Wix* is an online site builder tool that’s available via the web browser. But that’s an understatement. Wix is, in fact, one of the best all-in-one such builders in the market, delivering perhaps the ultimate way for you to build your free website.
It currently is the platform for around 110 million websites around the world
Wix is very innovative amongst its competitors. Historically they are very good at adding new updated tools and designs on a regularly. What this means is that if Wix doesn’t have a specific feature at the moment, you can request it and they will most likely add it if enough users ask the same. Although not all are available on the free plan, you can see some of their reasonably comprehensive range of tools and feature additions here.
Wix has also introduced their new ADI – Artificial Design Intelligence – where you can almost have your entire clubs website built automatically by Wix’s own artificial intelligence (AI) program. Now, that’s pretty innovative and puts Wix on a completely different level versus its competitors.
We have to commend Wix, as they keep very up-to-date with the latest design trends. For example, you can build 1-page designs, insert background videos, create different background sections, all without touching any codes (just drag & drop).
We couldn’t find any other website builder that even come close to helping their users achieve the level of advanced design that Wix has – and you don’t even need to know how to code.
- Build your website via a drag-and-drop interface.
- Over 500 great designs to choose from.
- The Wix ADI module can build a website for you on its own.
- Access to an extensive collection of images and icons.
- Website designs are mobile-friendly.
- Hosting and subdomain included.
- Only 500MB of storage and bandwidth. Meaning that you might come across availability problems once your site starts getting popular.
- Wix places its ads on your website. Can be annoying.
- In-person customer support available only for paid plans.
Joomla is a free website builder with both online and offline versions.
Its the second most popular Content Management System (CMS) behind WordPress, with about 2 million sites currently using the system.
With a massive range of themes and extensions, an online builder suitable for novices – although the offline software isn’t very user-friendly
While WordPress leads the way in popularity, Joomla also offers a similar two options: build a site using the web app online at joomla.com and have it hosted on the company’s servers (Siteground), or download the software from joomla.org and organise it yourself with your own hosting company.
If you decide on option two, you’ll notice that the interface is much less approachable than WordPress. It’s not entirely unnavigable. However, there are lots of menus and options to work through that makes it not feel quite as refined as say WordPress.
The online site builder is also reasonably complicated but doesn’t involve the same setup process; this makes it a better option for those just starting out. Its key selling point is its extensive collection of themes and extensions, which provide endless ways to customise the way your clubs site looks and works.
- Relatively user-friendly
- Number and range of adaptions
- Easy installation
- The learning curve is steep
- Lacks SEO capabilities
- Limited support
We have used Weebly* in the past to help clubs, and we are always impressed by the way that they have thought about their site.
Weebly* ease of use and power make it better than most other website builders. It’s fantastic.
Pages are built in Weebly* by dropping text, images and other elements into the body (or footer) of a page. Components can be moved around the page and automatically fall into columns and rows. No aspect ever feels half-baked— there’s always enough customisation options.
For example, the map element includes options for controlling markers, adjusting the zoom and setting longitude and longitude markers. This element is a convenient thing for helping to get your club found.
Weebly is the only website builder to offer an app store, known as its App Centre. This feature lets you install “apps” that add new functionality to your website. App Center is a massive plus for those starting out on Weebly
Weebly overall is an incredibly high-value program. We are continually impressed that Weebly builds on its success by developing more, high-quality features that clubs love (in the last few years they’ve successfully expanded into e-commerce and email marketing which is very useful to sports clubs).
- Speed and Security
- You can quickly monetise your site
- Easy site building process
- Loads of help in the form of tutorials and FAQs
- Its App Centre
- It has always had excellent customer support…even for free customers
- Limited template customisation
- The free option is limited
- Photo editing is very limited
- It doesn’t have an undo button that we could find
Strikingly*, in our opinion, is the best option if your club only wants a one-page website, ie you just want to have a basic everything on one-page site. If you’re not familiar with one-page sites, they are long websites where clicking the navigation scrolls you up and down the page…. excellent for mobile viewers.
Most website builders aren’t well-suited to create one-page websites. Strikingly is different, as it uses a fantastic “sections” editor that works well for one-page sites.
Your site will be made up of sections. Sections are blocks of content that build up on the page that you can scroll through.
Creating new sections is easy and intuitive. You’ll get the hang of it quickly.
Strikingly* has a significant number of pre-built sections, you can also make your own if you wish. You can add columns, headings, videos, features, images and more— basically anything your club wants.
- Simple e-commerce
- Very mobile friendly
- Easy to navigate
- Intuitive builder
- No form builder
- Not set up to link newsletters
- Basic contact form builder
- Only a small number of themes
- Themes not easily editable
As this list shows, there are many options for your club to get online and have its own website, the cost cannot be a factor in your club not having a website to show itself off. Each of the above is easy to use, free and will help promote your clubs activities and attract new members, sponsors and volunteers.
Next week we will be going a bit further on building your club a website, and looking at how you can create your site for (nearly) free