CONNING: The Bane of My Existence!

We need it to survive.  It is what sustains us, breathes life into us, separates us from the inanimate, the unmoving, the dead.

…WEBSITES!  Fucking websites (pardon my language!)  Yes, even a furry summer camp that takes place in the woods, that discourages technology, and has been known to run on paper and pen alone needs this bastard son of satan!

It’s a necessity.  The furry fandom lives online.  It grew online, and the most common and *heh* traditional way to get people offline to see each other face to face is a website.  One that informs, simplifies communication, allows people to register and pay, and overall acts as a portal to an annual event throughout the rest of the year.

Since I took over Camp Feral the website has been overhauled…and I mean ‘overhauled’ from the bottom up…every year but one.  Since the act of overhauling is managed by volunteers the pacing will always be slow…sometimes we have the site up in November, sometimes in January.

It always goes up.  Just never ‘right’ after camp.

Unless you have a hyper-passionate, dedicated web designer on your staff, you will likely have to deal with this headache as well.  My advice to everyone:

  1. As soon as possible change to a CMS.  Some people use WordPress, and that’s perfect for everything from a furmeet to a small scale con.  Feral is using Drupal because we like the way it can expand into a full-scale site rather than a blog.
  2. Chairs, directors, and people in control of the artistic vision of your event…TONE IT DOWN! 😉  Kidding…but seriously, part of our problem is that each year I want the site to be better than the last, and to suit the theme, maybe incorporate neat new ideas.  All good…but always keep in mind how much the new ideas will extend the deadline.
  3. A community site isn’t necessary.  In 2009 we decided to develop a ‘community’ based site with profiles and Facebook-like walls…unnecessary.  Let Facebook do the community (get a Page!), at most throw a forum or gallery on, and treat the site as it should be treated: a brochure or flyer to keep people informed, and let prospective new attendees learn about your event.

Am I saying don’t have a staff blog on the site?  No way!  If it suits your staff (do you have interesting, engaging, charismatic staff??) then by all means do it!

Am I saying you shouldn’t have a flash game or interactive element?  Sheesh, if you can do it, do it!

…if you have attendees that want that!  Remember, we’re doing this all for them!

All I’m saying is that the bane of my existence is the website, because it’s never what I want, and when it gets close it’s not what the attendees want.

So, keep an eye on www.campferal.org and see what comes up this year!

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