As with anything in life there are numerous solutions to a problem. Here we'll discuss two possible approaches a club or group could take to building a web presence and the advantages Global Riders has over each.
Advantages Over The Social Network Approach
So you might be thinking, why would I use Global Riders rather than just creating a group on a social networking site? Well, here's why:
- Your own domain, theme and branding - Your site will run using the theme you select or develop and be located at the domain (web address) of your choice. This means you are always in control. If you'd like to have sponsors messages feel free to do so, and you won't have any messages you don't want pushed on your users either.
Rides Database - Our system has a sophisticated rides database component.
For mountain bike riders we know that maps of your favourite trails are hard to come by. The rides database allows you to create an 'area' and upload (or cut/paste directly from applications such as Google Earth) GPS information of individual 'trails' that are linked together to form maps displayed on your site.
For road riders this isn't such a problem, but the database can be used to document frequently used ride routes and meeting places.
Ride database integration with calendar - The rides database integrates with your site's calendar giving users a link to meeting points and information about the area(s) that the ride will be covering.
For sites involved in MTB trail advocacy these links can be used to create statistics that show where organised rides your members are holding are, and where maintenance and possible trail expansion would be most useful.
- Trail status updates - Allows riders to give quick updates on the status of areas in the ride database. For MTB riders this is useful to report boggy or unpleasant conditions on various trails. For road riders this could be used to mark road closures or other similar issues.
Integrated meetings and blogs - Users can write blogs and post photos linked to specific meetings in your calendar. If those meetings happen to be race events they can choose to enter their results giving users an easy way to compare with their friends and peers.
Advantages Over The DIY Approach
You could also just install one of the common open source content management systems (CMS) or even purchase a commercial one at great expense and use that yourself. You'd be at a disadvantage though because:
- You would have to configure all the content types required yourself. OK, that's making it sound too simple. But we've already spent years figuring out what works and what doesn't so you don't have to.
The likelihood of an off the shelf CMS being able to do exactly what you want is pretty remote. The Global Riders developers have spent many hours over the years creating custom modules to make sure the system works just how it is required to.
Don't get us wrong - we believe passionately in Open Source software and have given some of this effort back to the community. Thing is though that parts of it are just too specialised for other sites to use, the Global Riders 'special sauce' as it were, from which our partner sites all benefit.
- You'd need to arrange a host (either VPS, shared or dedicated hosting). No big deal... unless you don't know what a registrar, DNS server of CNAME record is.
- You are on your own and not part of a wider community. Ideas are shared and improvements on one site flow instantly to others. Problems are more easily solved and burdens shared. This is what true community collaboration is.