The Vanguard View: Insight for Association Websites

2016’s New Years Resolutions for Association Websites

Posted by Ray van Hilst on Mon, Jan 04, 2016

    

2016-Website-Resolutions.pngIt’s time for cookies hit the trash, fresh bodies to swarm the gym and for us all to take a reboot to make ourselves better.  But instead of wading through the (temporary) crush of bodies at the gym… let’s make some different resolutions. 

For those of us working on association websites, the New Year is an opportunity to take a fresh look at our websites and make resolutions to improve the site quality, serve our members and fulfill our missions.

So, let’s keep this manageable and commit to 3 resolutions for 2016.

Create and follow a content strategy

After many years of discussion, many associations are recognizing the benefits of developing a content strategy for their association website.

At its most basic level, content strategy is just the planning for creation, delivery and governance of relevant, usable content – which could include articles, blog posts, announcements, press releases or any other type of content your association produces.

Some of the benefits of a good content strategy include:

  • Web content management aligned with your initiatives and programs
  • Increased usability of your association’s website by members, potential members and key-stakeholders
  • Increased effectiveness of your website to advance your organization’s objectives
  • Reduced “stress” from last-minute updates and reactionary content publishing

Here are some great places to get started:

Make 2016 the year your organization stops rushing to post last minute content and embraces content strategy.

Commit to Steady, Incremental Content Improvements

Yes, this resolution is a carryover from last year’s resolutions for association websites.  But it’s still a good one.

Let’s face it –  association websites are big. Most of Vanguard Technology’s client websites have thousands of pages. And it isn’t feasible to undertake a massive overhaul of all your content.

So where do you start? Just follow the old adage “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time…” Or in the case of a website – one page at a time.

Make a commitment to incremental improvements every time you edit a page or document in the site. Clean up the layout, add SEO meta data, edit the content for better web writing, or just add some relevant links. The goal is to spend 5 minutes improving each page, and over time the entire site will be improved. For some tips getting started, check out my E-book 5 Website Improvements to Make in 5 Minutes (or less).

Make a resolution to improve every page or document every time you touch it and over the course of the year, you will make your entire website better.

Stop Guessing. Start Measuring.

One of my personal goals for 2016 is to pay more attention to metrics and analytics. And for many of our clients (and other web managers I speak with), this is a resolution that we all should commit to.

We hear all the time how a decision about the website section/page/document is made based on the whim of an executive, the most recent board member email or just a gut reaction. Content needs to be retained “just in case” someone needs it.  When faced with those questions from my clients my response is always… “What do the analytics say?” 

Make 2016 the year you pay more attention to your web analytics and make strategic decisions based on your data – after all, the beauty of the web is that everything can be tracked and monitored.

Start by making sure you have Google Analytics installed on your website. At Vanguard Technology, we not only install Google Analytics but we also integrate it into the Sitefinity CMS so our clients have access to their analytics directly within the CMS. 

Next, set-up some dashboards to monitor your web analytics and get you a snapshot of what users are doing on your site. To help you get started, here are some good resources:

For bonus points, set up a monthly email to have Google Analytics send you a PDF of your report. This way you get your numbers in your inbox every month and can compare how you’re doing.

Make 2016 a year of measurement and commit to using Google Analytics.

So, what are your resolutions? What will you do differently in the new year? It’s a new year and now is the time to commit to your association’s website’s content, experience and management.

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Topics: web governance, web strategy, Google Analytics, content strategy, association websites

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