It's a bold claim, I know. Some would even call it brash. But it's true. We recently launched the best private club website in the world, and we couldn't be happier about it.
"But there are so many private member's clubs out there!," you're saying. "Each one with a website. What, did you look at all of them?"
Yes. Or a lot of them, anyway. And the website we created for the Tokyo American Club is better than all of them. I mean every. Last. One.
Which is fitting somehow, because, as it just so happens, TAC is one of the top private clubs in the world. They deserve to have an awesome website, don't they? We think they do.
Founded in 1928 and long a hub of Tokyo’s international community, the Tokyo American Club has been described by private club consultants the McMahon group as “light years ahead of its U.S. counterparts” and “quite possibly the finest private club facility in the world.”
With accolades like these you can imagine the pressure we were under when asked to create the online face of this Tokyo institution following the opening of its spectacular new location. But in the end all of the hard work (of which there was plenty, for us and our client) paid off. And when the dust had finally settled we realized we had created something quite special. Join me now on a short tour to see why we think so!
Everyone agrees, the new website is drop-dead gorgeous. Clean and simple yet sumptuous, polished without being pretentious. With the new design we succeeded in satisfying one of the core design goals for the project, which was to capture the aesthetic character and feeling of the Club itself and express it faithfully online.
We chose a mega-menu for the global navigation to flatten the site structure and make it possible to get to almost any page in the website with a single click.
The Club itself is a wonder of architectural and interior design, and we wanted to ensure the website would do a good job of conveying this. We created a gallery function with a lightbox effect that auto-sizes images to the viewing window and allows for easy navigation among images.
Finally, the website needed to look great on smartphones and tablets as well, and so we created a responsive design which automatically adjusts to different screen widths to provide a positive user experience on all device types.
Features & Functionality
With the new TAC website we set out to create a website that would provide real value and convenience to TAC members and staff alike. Here are some of the features we build to achieve that goal.
Online Event Registration
The previous TAC website allowed members to register themselves for events online, but with the new site we took it to the next level. Now members can register themselves as well as guests, and can sign up their spouse or dependents simply by choosing them from a pre-populated list. The ajax-enabled registration screen allow members to perform all of these operations without a single page refresh or reload, and with surprisingly few clicks.
We also created a proxy registration function which allows designated staff members to register for events on behalf of members. With this function the TAC staff is able to sign up members, add guests, or sign up spouses or dependents of Club members. Pretty cool!
The new website also allows for online booking of resources such as squash courts and golf simulators. And just as with the event registration function, TAC staff are able to book resources on behalf of Club members via a proxy booking function.
The Tokyo American Club has one of the best and largest wine cellars in Tokyo, and one goal of the website redesign project was to make those wines available for sale online. To that end we created a full-featured e-commerce system within the website which allows Club members to browse and purchase wines right in the comfort of their own home (or office, or car, or a cafe...).
Reciprocal Club Listings
TAC has reciprocal club agreements with hundreds of private and member clubs all over the world, and we wanted to make it easy for TAC members to locate and learn about them. Rather than just provide a simple list, we created a customized Google Map with clickable pointers which shows all of the clubs spread across an expansive global map. Simply zoom in on the country or city you are interested in, click on the pointers to see the club name and address, then click through to the club website for full details. What could be easier?
Here are a few of the other cool things we built into the website:
- Classified ads for posting information about for-sale items, properties, home helpers, etc.
- A private social network which allows Club members to create a profile, connect with friends, post photos and videos, and view friends' activity
- A searchable Member Directory (with member opt-out function)
- A searchable Business Directory where members can list their details about their company or the services they offer. Looking for someone to help with filing taxes or purchasing property? Need skilled hiring services? Start here!
- Integrated form and survey builder
- An email marketing system which allows Club staff to create and manage email lists, create email messages and newsletters, and delivery and track them
- Ad manager for creating and managing banner ads and ad campaigns
- Downloadable PDF member statements
- Automatic collection and forwarding of website-initiated charges (event registrations, online purchases, etc.) to the Club's billing system
- A member control panel which allows members to manage contact details, newsletter subscriptions, email notifications, privacy settings, profile photo and more. Members can also view details about events they are registered for, booked resources, online orders, and their classified ads.
And there you have it. The best club website in the world. And you thought I was making it up.
But we didn't do it by ourselves. On this project we were very fortunate to work with a talented and capable group of professionals at TAC, and our shared insistence on maintaining the very highest standards for user experience and quality was a key factor in our delivering the site we did. Their contributions to the project were significant and many, and it was our great pleasure to work with them on what was, in the end, a very long and complex project.
But I think by this point you've probably read enough. Now go check out the site!