Harry Hull (Photo: Gail Hull)
In this age of the ever-expanding Internet, the San Vito Bird Club is excited to have its dream of its own website finally “hatch”! As the Club’s activities expanded, communicating more frequently with its members than the twice-annual Newsletter became more desirable, and we’re confident the website will accomplish that and much more besides.
As chairman of the Club’s Communications Committee (“CommComm”) appointed by Club president, Alison Olivieri late last summer to bring a website into being, I’d like to offer a few thoughts on the process of developing a website and the potential that it creates as well as give recognition to the key contributors (to date!).
Creating a website for a small organization such as the SVBC seems at first a rather straight-forward task: make it primarily a vehicle for announcing–and reporting on–the Club’s activities, throw in some of the “content” that the Club has generated over its relatively short history (like the old Newsletters and a few publications), and liven it up with plenty of photos, one of the great attractions of the Newsletters. The CommComm quickly realized that this view of what a website could be did not do justice to the powerful medium of the Internet: the observation that if a picture is worth a thousand words, a website is worth a million gives you the idea. The structure of the site grew to include topics and “content” that would be of interest to visitors to this corner of Costa Rica, whether real or virtual. So the site is enhanced with a Gallery of Local Birds and a guide to the best birding sites that will be of interest to almost any birder curious about the species special to our area and how best to see them. Plus there are links to websites useful for birders and travelers to Costa Rica in general. And of course, the site is a perfect way to explain what the SVBC is all about–its mission, goals, and projects past and present.
One of the greatest challenges for me personally has been reining in my ambitions for the website. The more we learn about the wealth of information “out there” relevant to the Club’s interests, the more tempting it is to find a way to make this information easily accessible from the site. Keeping the focus on what is really unique about our organization and location has kept the “construction” process from getting out of hand! But this doesn’t stop us from expanding the site over time into subjects that are dear to our hearts and mission. For example, we plan to add information on what to do if you encounter an injured bird, or what organizations to contact for birding trips.
A quick comment on the kind of website we’ve chosen. We decided early on that the website had to be easy for the Club’s leadership to personally maintain without having to become expert at HTML and the complexities of sophisticated websites. This led us to WordPress.com, a web-based website creation system developed primarily for bloggers. You’ve no doubt visited many such sites, perhaps without realizing it. WordPress.com (WP) is also very economical–free if you don’t want a few bells and whistles such as a custom domain name (like our sanvitobirdclub.org). And WP has a zillion “themes” or pre-designed “looks” from which to choose. This does limit control over a lot of possible website design features; but for our modest purposes, such limitations in no way frustrate our goals for the site, and, as it turns out, help satisfy our requirement for a web-masterless site. We’re very happy with the results and hope you will be, too.
Finally, I’d like to acknowledge the invaluable assistance of Liz Allen, a great friend of the Club with experience in creating custom websites, who has been our technical guide as well as frontline site developer using the WordPress system. It is comforting for us that she will continue to be a resource for us as the Club takes over the responsibility for managing the site. And the other members of the CommComm–Alison Olivieri and Lydia Vogt (the Club’s Secretary)–who have put in many hours of work, from brainstorming to content wrangling, should also take a virtual bow. It’s been a real pleasure working with such a dedicated–and jolly!–team.
So please, explore our site! Let us know what you think, and information you’d like included. And if you really like what you see, consider joining the Club… With your involvement, the sky’s the limit!