Guild Websites – Are They Worth It?
My guild in World of Warcraft has decided that they want a website so they can establish an “online presence”. Now, I’m a little skeptical about this because I’ve been in dozens of guilds in my time, led some, co-led some, and built websites for about three of them and it’s been my experience that often these things just end up never getting used. Building and running a decent guild website takes a lot of commitment and, at the end of the day, it’s only as beneficial as the amount it gets used. I can recall several times when I’ve been in guilds that say things like “check the guild site for details about X” and then the event occurs and we discover that no one actually bothered going to the site. It makes me wonder – are guild websites really worth it?
I’m sure there are plenty of well-established, well-organised guilds that revolve around their website and enforce registration and communication but I have no doubt that they are in the minority and that most guild websites just exist like Wild West ghosts town, waiting for someone unlucky soul to accidentally stumble onto it. Personally I think there’s no need for a guild website until you know that you’re running a “serious” guild and not just a fly-by-night casual one (which seems to be the most common type in WoW). Even then, the most useful aspect of a guild site is really a forum to allow people to communicate when not in game.
Setting up a site can also take a lot of time and money. You have to register domains, rent a server, and spend time setting up an open source forum or similar and then applying some sort of skin to brand it. Having done this myself a few times, it’s pretty disheartening to put in all of the effort to discover that no one uses it or checks it regularly.
Maybe I’m becoming too cynical but I feel that guild sites are overrated and only have a time and place if the entire guild is raiding regularly, working as a proper team and willing to communicate outside of the game world. Until that point, I think casual guilds are better either sticking to the in-game tools available (such as WoW’s calendar system) or even just whipping up a Facebook or MySpace page. It’s why I like the idea of EVE Online’s upcoming COSMOS system which gives characters and corporations the ability to make their own mini-sites in-game – I want to spend my time playing the game, not building a website to support it.
So there you have my views. Am I just becoming an old fuddy-duddy or are guild websites more hype than use? Or am I actually overlooking something that is a valuable tool for all types of guilds, not just “serious” ones?
And on a sidenote, can anyone recommend some decent, quick-to-setup guild software, open source forums etc?