Right now is the time of year to start a high school baseball team website.
Have you been considering putting together a team site? Do you feel like you don’t have enough computer or Internet savvy? It’s really not a problem. There are many easy to use FREE sports web site hosting sources on the ‘net.
Trust me on this one. Yours truly had never even been near a website before I made my first high school team site. I made mistakes, I got confused and I asked a lot of questions.
Most of all I had fun! I was able to give something to the players and coaches, and even the high school and it only involved my time. Of course you will not have the completed team rosters, the schedules or various other bits of information yet. But you can have all of the parts set-up and ready to go for the spring.
I have looked at over 1,000 high school team websites and wanted to offer some comments and opinions on what things seem to work and what to avoid.
What Every Site Should Include
- Site Name – I can not tell you how many team sites that I have looked at and could find no reference to where the school was located or what the name of the school was for that matter. Naming your site “Bronco Baseball” is nice but doesn’t give the name of the high school or the location. Keep in mind that you are placing a site on the World Wide Web (www), you never know who might be looking in. Naming your site “Broncos Baseball” is fine, just don’t forget to add a brief description on the front page that goes something like this……John Adams High School is located in eastern Maryland and competes in Region 7, District 1-3A.
- The School Address – Preferably on the front page. If not on the front page have a link to a page called “Contact Us” or something similar and obvious. Why is the school address important? It makes it easy for college coaches to send correspondence to the high school coach or directly to the player. If a parent is unfamiliar with the location of your school they can use the address and a resource like Yahoo Maps to get directions. Remember we all were freshman parents once and finding each new school was an adventure. If your team does not play their home games at the high school – add the address for the home ballpark to the site (along with the school mailing address) Some web host formats (like Eteamz) allow you to create Yahoo Maps links to addresses right on your site.
- Telephone Number – To contact the coach, even if it is the school’s main switchboard number Why? What if Coach Smith or professional scout Ed Powers was going to watch one of your players, but it was raining? What if they needed directions to the school? How would they find you?
- E-mail Address – An e-mail address (to the website administrator) is always another good inclusion to the site. This can be either on the front page or on the “Contact Us” page.
- Loads Quickly – Be sure your main web site page displays fully within 20 seconds over a dial-up line.
- Back To Home – Include a “hyperlink” to your home page on every page of your web site.
- Roster – I know this sounds simple but I have seen high school team sites that did not have a player roster.
- Schedule – Again I know this sounds simple but I have looked at sites without a schedule on them. Make sure that you keep the schedule updated – as it rains in the spring and games get rescheduled – make the changes to your site.
- Keep the Front Page Simple – A “busy” front page will make it difficult to find information. Add simple to understand and read links, keep the clutter to a minimum. I know every bit of information on your site will seem important – but don’t try to put it all on the first page!
- Page Consistency – Make each page appear the same as all the others. By this I mean the same navigation bars, backgrounds, borders, etc. Place the link back to the home page in the same place on every page. Make it easy on your visitors to navigate your site.
- Pictures – A website full of nothing but text gets boring pretty fast. Find out if another parent on the team has a digital camera. It is the easiest way to get pictures and place them on your site. Trust me on this one – it’s easier to start digital than it is to scan photos. If you use a conventional camera go for the photo CD option that Walmart and others have. Links to a player’s photo (face) from the roster is always a nice feature. Action game shots are fun for both the players and the parents. Make sure that you spread it around – get as many different players as possible. Don’t forget the guys on the J.V. team.
- Game Summaries – These are always a nice feature for the players, coaches, fans and parents AND also for Grandma and Grandpa, Aunts and Uncles, or just friends out of state. An easy way to keep up with their favorite player or team’s season.
- Links – If you find a great resource for your readers add a link to that site from yours. Links to the local newspapers (if they provide coverage of your team) are always nice. Some others might be the NCAA website, your state’s athletic association site, the state high school baseball coaches association site (if your state has one), and of course it is mandatory that a link to the High School Baseball Web be included on your site!
- Guest Book – Maybe adding a guest book is not one of the first things to add but they are nice. It allows site visitors to add comments and support. They make for fun reading as the season goes along.
NOTE: Make sure that any guest book that you add to your site has an edit feature. Unfortunately inappropriate posts do occur.
What Every Site Should Avoid
- Animated Graphics – A few of these are fine but too many of them make the site appear as if it were designed by Mrs. Adams’ third grade class.
- Large Photos – Photos that are large in size (bytes) will make a page load very slowly. Many times folks think their computer has “locked up” and will move on. Use a photo editor program to reduce the size of pictures. Microsoft Photo Editor (which is free) will work fine. I would suggest keeping pictures to “400” width at the most, smaller if possible. If you want a large picture on your site place it first on a page as the small version. Then if a visitor wants to see the larger version provide a link to the full size photo.
- Awards – Winning awards for your website is nice but don’t torture your readers by making them wait for the award graphics to load on your front page. These awards take away from the valuable information on your site, and make resources hard to recognize. If you want to display awards won by your site place them on a separate page that is entered through a link on the navigation bar. Give your readers a choice.
- Taunts or Slurs – Believe it or not I have seen team websites that offered up negative comments about other schools and their players on the site. Guess who really looked bad in this instance?
- Nicknames – These may be well intended and even acceptable to the player but it is never a good idea to list a player on the roster with his nickname included. Rosters with nicknames for every player can look goofy and immature (Example: Thomas “Big Bird” Smith).
- Backgrounds – Busy, bright or cluttered backgrounds can take away from the appeal that your site may have. Allow your information to speak for itself. Try to have your page backgrounds passive and just as the word says … in the background.
I have reviewed our listing of over 1,200 high school baseball team websites and selected a few examples of sites that I feel are very good. The following is a listing of some of the very best sites. Not always the most “flashy” but those that I feel do a great job of getting the information out, making it easily available to their readers.
I have also listed a comment or two about some of the sites. This does not take away from the fact that each of these sites are excellent examples!
Collins Hill High School
Very nice index bar — Address info right on the top of the front page. Site has a nice directions page.
Newport High School
An excellent high school team site!
Langley High School
Good contact information, including e-mail links to the coaches.