If you are involved in the naturist industry, be it as a venue, sales enterprise, information provider or club/association administrator, you will have seen how others do it - some well, some not so well - and hopefully have learned from the successes and failings of fellow website owners.
It’s sad to report however that, even though the internet is now not only a very mature industry but a crucial part of the marketing mix, you still see some of the same mistakes being made, over and over again. And more often than not this has nothing to do with technological ability or financial resources: it’s often down to a lack of self-awareness, laziness, poor time management or sometimes plain stupidity.
To create, and maintain, a good website that perfectly suits your needs is not difficult. Nor does it require you to be a rocket scientist or have bottomless pockets. What it does require is a modicum of common sense, a little bit of application, a reasonable amount of research, and above all the ability to see yourself as others see you.
Here are the 10 most common mistakes many naturist website owners continue to make.
1. THE HOME PAGE
Never judge a book by its cover, says the old adage. In the case of websites, that’s exactly what people do. There’s a lot of competition out there, not just from other websites but from all other sources of information. You have a limited window of opportunity to grab and then hold somebody’s attention. Don’t waste it with a home page that says little more than ‘welcome to our website’ before expecting viewers to click through to where the real content is. Don’t bore them with dull photos or lengthy text. Don’t confuse them by having them wonder what it is exactly that you do. And don’t make them work hard to find out the information they need. They will vote, not with their feet, but with their fingers...
Don’t, of course, go the other way and make your website dull, or so minimalist that it doesn’t really say anything. In many cases, websites are simply online brochures. Make them as interesting, attractive and informative as you do (or did) with your printed promotional material. Utilise your corporate identity. Adapt many of the basic design and copywriting techniques you should already be using, but to suit the internet. Call in experienced help if you need it. Or find out for yourself how to do it. Read, look, listen and learn.
Nothing is quite as jarring as seeing spelling mistakes, typographical errors or poor grammar in promotional material. It reflects badly on you and looks like you are either unprofessional, lazy or just badly educated. And check everything. Facts, figures, dates, times. Information is pointless if it’s wrong.
5. MAINTAINING THE ATTRACTION
The world seems to suffer from the disease known as short attention span. Don’t try to fight it. Accept that people want information and access immediately. They don’t want to jump through hoops - which in the case of websites means scrolling down through lengthy reams of text or clicking through too many times to get to what they are looking for - which usually means essential information such as contact details, prices, availability. Decide what’s important. And make it readily available.
You don’t need to spend all day, every day, updating your website, but it’s still staggering how much out-of-date information there is to be found on the web. ‘News’ from two or three years ago. Promotions that have been and gone. Events that have already happened. ‘Here comes summer’ editorials when it’s freezing outside. Keep on top of things. Set yourself diary notes to update information. And if in doubt, delete it.
Put yourself in the place of somebody looking at your website for the first time. What do they need to know? Just as importantly, what DON’T they need to know? Keep the information clear, concise and updated. Make it easy to find. And if you don’t realise you are being boring by droning on about irrelevant matters, listen to somebody who has the honesty to tell you. Naturism is supposed to be enjoyable. Don’t come across as too earnest, serious or proper. You go naked in public, remember?
Unlike with magazines, you don’t necessarily need high-resolution, professional-standard photography to make an impact on the web. But make sure your photos are interesting, well-lit, and convey what you are trying to promote. And aim for the middle ground, taste-wise. You don’t want borderline pornography. But you are promoting the naked body after all. Don’t just show places. Show people in - and enjoying - them.
9. THE BIG PICTURE
You’re promoting yourself, fair enough. You may even be doing it well. But - especially in the case of naturist venues - are you promoting the destination? It will be the first criteria for most people, who will decide where they want to go before they decide who they want to stay with. Attract them to your country or region first, and then to you. And tell them what else is on offer outside your four walls - history, culture, food, entertainment. It’s a holiday after all. Not all naturists want to spend the entire day sitting by the pool.
10. THE BUBBLE SYNDROME
Don’t live in one. The best website in the world is pointless unless anybody sees it. So instead of just aiming to get yourself higher up the Google rankings in the hope that people will find you, look at other ways of directing traffic to your particular corner of the internet: advertising, PR, social media, networking, word-of-mouth. If you want to put bums on seats, you have to take your’s off it from time to time.