There have been many posts recently about genealogy and historical societies, so I thought this post from last year would be appropriate.
What do I want to see on a genealogy society website? I am tech-challenged beyond mortal comprehension so I may be asking for the impossible, but here is what I would like to see on a genealogy society website:
I adore sites that have a clean, sharp, uncluttered look and are easy to navigate.
The landing page of a society's website should tell me exactly what I'm going to find on the site and clearly labeled buttons to click and take me there. Example: Let's say I read somewhere that Our City Genealogical Society has an obituary index located on their website. When I arrive at the website I don't want to have to spend time looking for it. Something that is meant to be a draw should stand out on the home page.
One of the first things I look for and very rarely see are PHOTOS - photos of special and even not so special events and meetings that include the membership. Photos that show the benefits of membership. Photos that make me want to belong to that society. Another section I really enjoy is the History of the Society. When was it established? How many people are currently members? Who was the first president? Special achievements?
An important part that I see lacking on many websites is the Contact Page. It does not please me when the only way to contact the society is to mail a letter to a P.O. Box. Who are the current board members and what are their email addresses? I appreciate the convenience of a contact form right there on the site to fill out.
One of the best ways to get the feel for a society and the way they run things is to read their Newsletters. I understand that the most current newsletter is a benefit of membership and have no problem with that. However, a sample of a newsletter from the last year is not an unreasonable request. I have come across quite a few society websites that only have newsletters from 10 years ago.
And last, but certainly not least is the section about Membership. In a perfect genealogy world, one could become a member simply by filling out an online form then click a button to pay the dues online. Having to print an application form, fill it out by hand, write a check, buy a stamp and mail it practically guarantees that I won't be a member of that society anytime soon. I am lazy that way. Make it as easy as possible for people and I'm going to bet that you will see membership numbers rise. So there you have it. My rants and raves. What about you? What do you want from a genealogy website?