Having a website is a must nowadays. Without it, Neighborhood Councils are missing an opportunity to connect with a large percentage of constituents. In addition to keeping your community informed, a well maintained website serves as an archive for your governing documents, your agendas and minutes, and as a legacy of your accomplishments.
Buying a domain and hosting is just the first step in establishing an online presence. (A Domain is the name or URL of a website, such as EmpowerLA.org or AtwaterVillage.org or STNC.org, and the hosting is what gets content up onto the world wide web.) Both domain and hosting can be bought at the same place. To find the best hosting provider for your Neighborhood Council, compare the Top 10 Hosting Provider Companies in the US and the The Top 10 Web Hosting Companies of 2012 .
Whichever company your Council chooses, be sure to choose a large company that has 24/7 customer service and a live person that they can talk to. Larger companies have quicker customer service and with Neighborhood Councils, having timely service is important. Also, larger companies tend to be cheaper than small ones, and Neighborhood Councils need to consider how much money they want to allocate for their website.
Things to consider about your website and hosting account:
- Buy a basic / economy package. Neighborhood Councils don’t need huge bandwidth. They store documents, images and that’s about it. Videos should be hosted on YouTube or Vimeo, so the bandwidth is not needed for media.
- Are you creating a WordPress website? Make sure that the service that you buy includes WordPress installation and hosting if you plan on having your website built on WordPress. GoDaddy for example has a WordPress customer service, specifically designed to help with WordPress questions and fixes and installing WordPress with them is fairly quick and easy.
- Get email service! When purchasing domain and hosting, be sure to purchase email service. Boardmembers can have their NC email address and keep their personal email private. In addition, this allows you to sign up your domain and hosting account as well as your social media accounts up with your Neighborhood Council’s email address, not someone’s personal email. This way the Neighborhood Council can keep track of domain and hosting notification and any account activities as well as changes.
- Get your passwords! Keeping your data safe can be very easy, when you have your personalized Neighborhood Council email address and a password, that three people on the board have access to. You need to have full access to your domain, hosting AND social media accounts.
- Everything belongs to the Council and to the Stakeholders! The domain, hosting, email addresses, and social media accounts all should be in the name of the Neighborhood Council and not a person on the board, who volunteers their service, or a website designer who gets paid for their service. That way, when the volunteer or the webmaster moves on, the accounts stay with the Neighborhood Council.
Make sure you have these basic steps covered for your website, your Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and various other accounts. Get your passwords, update contact info on all accounts to reflect your Neighborhood Council name, address and emails, and take control of one of your most valuable outreach and archive tools.