We’ve already talked about why you need a guild website. A well-made site on the right guild hosting platform will help your group maintain communication, stay organized, and network more effectively. But that’s all big picture stuff. You’re probably asking the more immediate question: how do I do all that?
A good guild website seeks to enhance the group play experience for guild members, so most guild hosting platforms offer a ton of features that do just that. From communication and recruitment tools to customization and game integration, there are a lot of options available to you. So which ones are essential to making a great site?
1. A wide variety of communication tools
In our last article about the importance of having a guild website, we made it excruciatingly clear that communication is the most important thing for guilds to have. It’s impossible to work as a group if you can’t communicate. So any guild hosting platform worth its salt needs to have tools and features that encourage more (and better) communication among guild members.
Forums are the most common channel, and nearly every guild hosting platform offers some sort of forum feature. They allow you to have conversations about a variety of topics simultaneously, without leaving anyone out of the loop. For larger guilds where face-to-face communication can’t always happen, forums are even more important. They allow officers and members alike to keep in contact about important issues, and can also serve as an outreach tool if certain parts of the forums are opened to guests who may be interested in the guild.
As invaluable as they are, forums move fairly slowly and aren’t always the best way to communicate with your guildmates. So look for a guild hosting platform that offers other channels as well, like messages or real-time chat. Many platforms offer real-time text and voice chat, either by reserving server slots on something like Mumble, or via a native chat app, like Gamer Launch’s PR8.
2. Announcement and activity feeds
Remember that whole “communication is key” spiel we keep giving? It applies here too. This one probably seems like a no-brainer, but there are some guild hosting platforms that don’t have dedicated tools for getting information out to your guild.
The good news is that a lot of sites do. Look for one that has a dedicated announcement tool, or a blog or newsletter function that can serve the same purpose. While this may not be used often in smaller guilds, larger guilds will need it to update members on guild and site changes, upcoming events, and any other items that everyone needs to see.
Activity feeds are also a great feature that you’ll want on your site. Guild members can quickly hop on to see what they’ve missed and catch up on the detailed goings-on in-game and on the site that won’t necessarily get addressed in announcements or on the forums. Activity feeds are also a great way to show potential recruits that your guild is active, and helps give them an idea of what sorts of things you do.
3. A dedicated calendar
Some kind of calendar functionality is pretty much standard with most big-name guild hosting platforms, but they vary in extra features.
A guild-wide calendar is vital for keeping up with upcoming events, releases, raids, meetings, and so on. Some platforms take it a step further and allow you to use the calendar to keep track of member availability and attendance. You can also have signups through the calendar, so members (or their characters) can RSVP to in-game events.
A well-implemented calendar can take a lot of the confusion out of coordinating events. And it also means your guild members have one less scapegoat for missing that meeting.
4. Lots of customization options
It’s your guild site – don’t you want it to reflect your guild’s personality?
Customization not only helps you separate yourself from other guilds, it also encourages your members to invest in the site. It’s hard to feel like a site is your own if it’s differently-colored copy of the template for Joe Schmoe’s Guild of Bros. So look for customization options.
User profiles (and on some platforms, character profiles) are a great feature that make the whole site experience feel more personal. Not only will your members put more of themselves into the site, but you’ll also be able to learn more about the people you play with and interact with around the site. This, like most of the things we’ve talked about here, is very important for a larger guild. That way, you can get to know new members more quickly, and you’ll have a better idea of who’s who if there are a lot of people.
Customizable site themes are also a common feature that you can use to your advantage. Not only can your guild brand itself with certain colors, images, or phrases, but you can also use the page layout to draw attention to items that you feel should be prioritized. Is your site mainly a hub that members use to coordinate events? You can put the calendar front and center on the home page. Trying to expand? Put a call for recruits and a link to your application there instead.
When it comes to customization, it’s better to have too many options than too few. (Source)
5. Multiple game integration
Integration is really a type of customization, but it’s important enough that we’re giving it its own number. Game integration can mean any number of things, depending on which hosting platform you choose.
Some platforms work directly with developers and publishers to create game-specific tools that help unify your guild site experience with your gaming experience. You can also import information about races, classes, items, etc., and that information will get updated automatically. Lots of platforms will offer game-specific themes for your site, as well.
But what if you play more than one game? You’ll need a platform that supports multiple game integration. That will allow you to manage more than one game from your site, while maintaining unique content and visual themes for each individual game. Juggling those extra games will be a lot easier on the right platform.
6. Matchmaking and event creation
This is pretty straightforward, but it’s necessary for any guild that’s interested in competitive play or eSports. You’ll want a platform that makes it easy to find people to play with or against.
Some hosting platforms offer matchmaking tools that will help you set up scrims based on your chosen game and your team’s availability. This feature is becoming increasingly more common. (we just rolled out our eSports feature here at Gamer Launch not too long ago), but not every platform has it. So if competitive play with other guilds is on your to-do list, make sure you’ll have the tools you need.
Don’t let this be your guild. Use a platform with DKP features. (Source)
7. DKP, stats, and progression tracking
These are all somewhat different features, but we’re grouping them together because they all serve a similar purpose. These are the nitty-gritty details of how your guild is running, who is doing what, and how well individual players (as well as the whole guild) are doing.
Stat and progression tracking will allow you to keep an eye on how characters are improving and how much progress you’ve made toward specific goals. Whether you need to know how far you’ve gotten in a dungeon or how many more crafting materials you need for a project, most platforms will have tools to help you out.
For MMO guilds, DKP is going to be an integral part of group play. Guilds (and individual players) use all kinds of DKP systems, so letting your guild site do the work for you eliminates confusion and helps minimize disagreements among guild members. So make sure your hosting platform has a solid DKP feature if you’re going to be dungeon-delving or participating in raids. That way, you can make sure all is fair in love and loot.
8. Recruitment tools
Last but not least, you want to look for a hosting platform that streamlines the recruitment process. If you’re just a casual group of friends, this might not be so high up on the priority list. But if you’re an established guild looking to expand, recruitment features can be your best friend.
A good hosting platform will let you customize your recruitment application, add advanced criteria, submit recruitment requests, as well as manage incoming applications. Some will also allow you to leave admin notes on applications for other guild officers to see.
If you’re a larger guild, having those features will save you a lot of headaches.
We want you for goblin duty. (Source)
There are lots of other tools and features that we could include on this list. But these are the major things you should be looking for when choosing a guild hosting platform. Guild sites are intended to augment the group play experience, so your hosting platform should give you a lot of options for the kind of guild experience you want to create. With the right one, you can have an active, thriving guild in no time.