Written By: Ashley Graves
Everyone in the sport of swimming pretty much has a love hate relationship with their website. They are however necessary evils we must learn to master. Unfortunately, most don't do the upkeep they need to for a variety of different reasons.
In some of our previous posts we have discussed staff pictures, location information, and other website must haves but want to dive deeper into your overarching website platform. We have seen many team sites out there that look like they are still formatted from the first version of websites on the internet... we aren't pointing fingers but don't let this be you. How did this happen? Technology is evolving just as fast as our sport and it's hard to keep up with both. We understand, it is truly a lot to juggle.
This usually stems from not having enough time, staff turnover, or pure frustration with the platform so you just do the bare minimum. All of which we as coaches need to step away from making excuses for. It might be easier to blame those reasons on our lack of attention to our website but we don't let our swimmers make excuses so why would we let ourselves?
Your website is your biggest tool for success. That's where you do most of your team management from billing dues, meet entries, communicating with families, showcasing sponsors, managing your team events, and advertising your business. If this isn't a top priority for you, then we're here to tell you that you'll need to start carving out time for it.
Let us guess, your website is outdated and it would take a full on upheaval to build it into the new versions of Team Unify or Hy-Tek. If you fall in this category, start small. Make an appointment and set aside a hour of your time for that dreaded call with your website provider. Maybe make a trip to your favorite coffee shop to make it more enjoyable for yourself. You will be able to see what your options are, see how much it would cost to upgrade, and how much they are able to help you with the transition. You never know what you are up against until you ask, it might be more simple that you realize.
Once you get your answers, you have a few choices. You can upgrade, switch providers, carve out time to chip away at the task yourself, or give an assistant coach that's more tech savvy than you a few more hours this month to do it for you. All of which can get you where you want to be.
Think of a parent moving to a new town and looking into options for their swimmers to join a new club team. If your website looks outdated, jumbled, difficult to find information, or confusing they will look at your competition. Meanwhile, the team across the road has the new version of their website, easy to find information with a clean website design, schedules posted for all the practices, events listed out for the whole season so families can plan ahead, pictures of their training locations so they are easy to locate, matching staff pictures with posted bios, and appear incredibly organized. This influences a parent's decision. They want to pay for quality, so be quality in everything that you do, including the way you represent your team to those that know nothing about you.
Let's say you are a college program and your institution controls your website. This might be a great time to sit down with your Athletic Director or Compliance Office and discuss offering a second website where you can promote and organize your other programs like swim camps, clinics, community swim lessons, and more. You don't know what they will agree to until you ask. The worst they could say is no. If they hear what you want to use it for and how it can help drive enrollment or bring in revenue for the team, they might just let you link a separate page to your sport page on the college website! There are many websites that offer free versions that could possibly work for what you need. It might help you win a second website since we know all AD's will love the budget friendly options!
Most importantly, realize that a team website is never really finished. There will always be more upgrades and constant maintenance when it comes to managing it. If you can't dedicate the amount of time that it needs to remain at top efficiency, task this important piece of your business to a trusted assistant coach or parent volunteer that can excel in this area for you.
Your website will always be the best investment you can make. That's how people find you. Yes, Social Media is important and completely necessary but should drive traffic to your website.
Your website showcases your team, your brand, and your identity in your community. Make that a priority for your business. You will be glad you did!
Ashley began her coaching journey at the age of nineteen years old. She became the youngest female head coach in the country of a club team and combined high school program in 2014. Ashley has continued to work in the swim community in a variety of roles but is most well known for her work at Streamline Teams where she is the Founder & CEO. In her community she runs a summer swim lesson school serving both local and military families.