The Vanguard View: Insight for Association Websites

Do's and Don'ts of Website Redesigns

Posted by Ray van Hilst on Tue, May 15, 2012


Project Management Tips to Stay Calm 

Next week is ASAE’s Marketing, Membership and Communications Conference where Ray van Hilst from Vanguard will be co-presenting Association Website Redesign and CMS Migration: Best Practices (and Horror Stories) with Ceela McElveny from the American Society of Radiologic Technologists and Tobin Conley from DelCor Technology Solutions.

The session will cover a number of web redesign best practices including managing expectations, timelines and project management tools as well as an in-depth case study of our redesign project for ASRT.

Websites are inherently a technical initiative. However, at Vanguard we find these projects are typically managed by the membership or marketing teams who may or may not have technical expertise.  Even more common is that not all of the team has been through the process before.

With this in mind, the session will be targeted toward non-IT audiences and will provide practical advice and lessons learned from these projects.

As a sneak peak, here some Website Redesign Do’s and Don’ts from Ceela:

Best Practices (Do’s)

    • Define your business reasons for having a website.

    • Develop a mission and a strategic plan for the site that align with the mission and strategic plan of your association.

    • Hire a technology partner that is a good fit for your association.

    • Assign a dedicated project manager.

    • Invest time in the research phase. Interview staff and survey members to understand how and why they use the site. Conduct a card sort to understand how users organize your content and the language they use to identify it. This information will tell you not only what to change, but perhaps more importantly it will tell you what you’re already doing well and shouldn’t mess with.

    • Follow your brand guidelines and make design decisions that support your branding.

    • Develop a style guide for your CMS users. Train them not only on how to use the CMS, but on the style guide as well.

Horror Stories (Don’ts)

    • Don’t tie your launch date to an event or publicly announce a targeted launch date to your members. You are going to run into unknown obstacles that will throw your timeline into disarray.

    • Don’t migrate content too early. If your launch date is pushed back, you’ll have to maintain two parallel sites – the old one and the new one – for a long time.

        • At the same time, don’t wait until the last minute to migrate content or you will have to push your launch date back.  Content migration still takes time.

    • Don’t assume communication is occurring just because you are having lots of meetings.

    • Don’t let scope creep take over your project.

For more tips and to get the inside scoop, join us at the Washington Convention Center in room 202A at 3:30 on Wednesday, May 23.

Ceela McElveny is Chief Communications and Membership Officer at the American Society of Radiologic Technologists.

Ray van Hilst is Director of Client Strategy and Marketing at Vanguard Technology. Connect with him @rvanhilst or rvanhilst(at)

Topics: mmcc, ASAE, Ray van Hilst, Tactics, ASRT, Delcor, website redesign, project management, Websites

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