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Written by Corina Mihaela Paraschiv   
Wednesday, 11 February 2009 01:26


This article is part of a series of articles on Rotaract Clubs website design and focuses on the physical environment of the website.


The Physical environment of your website is the style of the pages, and the set of experience elements that your visitor encounters upon visiting your website.  For instance, how does it look, how are the images and information displayed, the design of documents that are out for download, etc. 


Now what can the physical environment do for you?  First off, it helps the visitor have a distinctive image and a unique positionning for your club.  Think of it this way, for many people, this could be there first encounter with your Rotaract Club, so whatever feel your website gives will be their general feel about the club.  If done correctly, with pictures that are up to date and attractive, with a design that's professional and not too flashy, etc., you'll convey the image of Rotaract as being professional, credible, fun and for young people.  If your website is sloppy, you might come across as "just another student club", or if you are using the old Rotaract International's website pictures, you might be seen as an old-fashioned club (which is why I think Rotary's recent Internet Makeover was a great decision from the headquarters!).


Another function of your website's physical environment is that it'll have the potential to grab people's attention.  A website where too much information is clustered, with too much text, and where information is not well organized, will loose the visitor's interest very quickly.  Remember the 8 second rule to that effect, too : if you page takes more than 8 seconds to load (grpahics and videos included), you visitors will generally not wait for the download, and might switch websites. 


The precise tone of colors and images you select can set the tone and mindset that can make it easier for you to communicate with the potential Rotaractor later.  If your website makes it look like a very sociable, upbeat club, the prospective member showing up could reasonnably expect that your club will be friendly, warm and chatty.  So try to be coherent in your website's design, and use the various elements to put the new member in an excited mood, for instance, which can make it easier for you to share what your club's about and to invite them to join you upon getting an email from them or encountering them in real life afterwards.


Last, it can affect how the visitor perceives the quality of your interaction with him.  For instance, if your website looks extremely professional, but that you take a very long time to reply to their email, you'll most likely have not rised up to the expectations your website set for you. 


Note that having a great website is very important for a club to recruit; research has shown that people who encountered a positive physical environment spent more resources (money and time) in the place than those who encountered a negative physical environment.  This intuitively makes sense, and means, for your club, that the more plesant and coherent your website is to the viewer, the more that visitor will want to stay online and learn more about what you do and who you are.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 11 February 2009 01:49 )

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