Friday, December 28, 2012

No More

If your Region website still has links to, it’s time to fix them! no longer redirects to AYSO’s national website. It now sends visitors to a children’s soccer destination site.

All URLs should direct to

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Make Your Website Pretty (and Consistent) with CSS Classes

A class is a line of code you add to an HTML element, giving it a specific look depending on what is defined in a style sheet.

Classes can be a more difficult concept to understand, but they can make your life so much easier when it comes to styling a webpage. They can give your page a consistent look without much work at all. Here’s how they work:

Let’s say you want a blue border around certain elements, but you don’t want to program it each time you make a new element. That’s where a class comes in. Classes can be applied to any element, such as a div or a paragraph tag, a link or an image. Let’s start with the style.

In the internal or linked style sheet (note: this DOES NOT work with inline style), we’ll create a class called makemeblue. All class names are preceded by a period in CSS.

Monday, December 24, 2012

What Does Your Title Tag Say?

A title tag (circled above) is the text that appears at the top of your internet browser, and it is often used when your page is shared on Facebook or Twitter. 

Taking full advantage of the title tag is a great way to improve the SEO for your Region’s website – be sure to include all the important words that not only define your page, but things you think parents/families might be looking for.

We have a class of RCs coming to attend RC Training at the AYSO National Office in the next few weeks. To prepare, I looked up these Region Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and Region websites. I was surprised to find that a couple of the Regions didn’t show up in the results when I Googled “AYSO Region XX.” If they had taken full advantage of the title tags, this wouldn’t have happened.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Steal Our Graphics…it’s Okay!

A lot of Regions like the graphics we have on and have asked or requested to use them on their Region websites. Yes, it’s okay for you to use our graphics on your Region website, social media pages, etc. However, we don’t need to re-create them for you. Here’s an easy way to take a graphic/image off and place it on your website.
  1. Find the graphic you like and right click on it.
  2. You now have two options – you can save the image, or link to it.
    1. To save the image, select the “Save Image As” option (or an option similar to it. I’m using Firefox for this demo and all browsers have different but similar options)
    2. To link to it, select the
      1. “View Image Info” option. A window will pop-up with the complete URL for the image. Copy this url.
      2. “View Image” option. It will open the image in either the same window or a new window. Copy the URL out of the address bar in the browser.
      3. “Copy Image Location” option. This does all of the work for you and will copy the URL.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Value of Facebook Insights

For those of you with Region Facebook pages, are you keeping up with your Facebook Insights?

Facebook Insights is a handy tool available for all business pages. By checking your Insights – which are basically the metrics of your Facebook page – you can find out how your posts are engaging with your Facebook audience, where your Facebook fans live, what language they speak and much more.

Above is a shot of Insights for AYSO’s National Facebook page, under the “Likes” tab. You’ll see that the highest segment of our Facebook fans is women age 33-44. With this knowledge, I know that every now and then, I should craft a post tailored to this audience. This helps me achieve high engagement and in turn, more Facebook fans.

Here are some things to consider for your Region:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Widgets Everywhere!

Widgets are becoming more and more popular as a means to import information from other sites and display it on your own. Most of them are fairly simple to add to your website (usually a JavaScript or an iFrame) and they can give your website added value and help increase traffic. Did I mention most of them are FREE?

Some popular uses of widgets include:

Facebook Widget
These widgets let you add a small feed of your Facebook timeline to your website. It helps to let people know that you also have a presence on Facebook and that your Region’s volunteers and parents are engaging there as well. The Facebook Activity widget can be found here.

Twitter Widget
Similar to the Facebook widget, this app allows you to display your Twitter feed on your website. It will let people see some of your tweets and prompts them to connect with you on Twitter for more info. Here’s a popular Twitter widget you can add to your homepage.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

So, What's a Style Sheet?

Back when the web first started, there were tags like <font> and <u> that were used for formatting text. In 1996, CSS1 came out and slowly started to replace the old formatting tags. Now, many browsers have stopped support for these tags, making CSS the standard in the web design world.

Once you get used to the formatting, CSS is very simple to use. There are three ways to use CSS
  • in a linked style sheet (external)
  • a <style> tag placed in the header of a page (internal)
  • an inline tag placed directly on the element it’s affecting.

Linked Style Sheets

The linked style sheet is created in the same format as the <style> tag in the header of the page, only it’s an external .css file that is pulled into the HTML page. You can load an external CSS file with the following line of text:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="style.css" type="text/css" media="screen" />

Monday, December 10, 2012

How to Make Your Online Community a Safe Haven

Did you know Safe Haven has an Online and Social Media Policy? It covers everything from Facebook and Twitter use to email communication. Here are two important highlights from the policy:

Never post team rosters with names, jersey numbers and/or contact info. While some families may think this is useful, it is very dangerous to have this information posted in a public place (Region website, social media page). If that information lands in the wrong hands, they will have access to important details about minor children – allowing them to attempt to contact that child if they so choose.

Friday, December 7, 2012

3 Must-Haves for Every Region Website

Region websites are an invaluable tool for communicating with your community, parents and volunteers. It's likely the information hub for your Region - so it's important to include all the important information you want your members and families to know.

Here are three things that should be on every Region website:

1. Contact Information
This information should be included prominently on your Region's homepage. Whether it's a contact form,  email address or a phone number, make sure it's posted somewhere that visitors can easily spot. Questions arise regularly, and if they are not answered on the website, the parents will want someone to contact. Parents can get frustrated if this information is not readily available on the website.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Is Your Region Website Searchable?

When a family decides it’s time for their kid(s) to play sports, some parents are familiar with AYSO and are out there actively searching for your Region on the web. But, there are plenty of other parents that aren’t acquainted with AYSO – and may not be sure that there is any local soccer program in their area.

This is why it’s important to be sure that your Region website is “searchable” or in other words, uses positive SEO (Search Engine Optimization) practices. For those of you not familiar, here’s a handy SEO beginners guide.

In a nutshell, focusing on improving SEO will ensure that your Region website ranks highly in Google search results – making it easy to find for those unfamiliar parents I mentioned. Here’s a quick trick to find out where you stand: Google “youth soccer (your city name here)” and see if your website appears on the first page of results. Yes? That‘s a good start. No? We’ve got some work to do!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Basic HTML

As the Manager of Digital Media for AYSO, I work with HTML on a daily basis, so it comes very second nature to me. I know this is not the case with the majority of the world, which I often realize by the strange looks people give me when I start talking “code.” Therefore, I thought it would be beneficial to a lot of you if I did an entry on basic HTML.

Whether you know it or not, you probably come into contact with it at some point while editing/updating your Region’s website. It can sometimes look like a foreign language, so it’s important to know what’s what. Here are some common tags you might come across while editing your website.

A quick note before we start: Most tags have two parts: the opening part and the closing part. The opening part starts a certain element style. Everything that comes after the opening tag will contain that style. The closing part comes at the end of the element and stops that particular style from appearing. Note the paragraph example below and how the <p> opens the style and the </p> closes the style. A slash before the letter indicates a closing tag.