I admire Marissa Mayer at Google. She's the Vice President, Search Products & User Experience at the search giant. In essence, she's the one responsible for keeping Google's home page as simple as it remains today. Not an easy feat. She's loved and hated by many, but she's maintained her integrity and beliefs about user experience and Google remains profitable because of it.
The video below is her talking about some of her philosophies on Google's place on the Internet. She cites some interesting counter intuitive facts about how people search and how that affects the way Google presents data to the world. The video is an hour long so you'll have to really be into this stuff to watch the whole thing, but at least check out the first 8 minutes. The point that sticks out for me that I think applies directly to associations is this:
“Aim to design for the expert, but don’t intimidate the novice”
Scores of RFPs we receive each and every year for the last 10 years say something to this effect:
"We have old users and young users, we have some users who know computers and some who don't. Regardless, we must cater to all of them on our new website."
Let's be clear. You can't build a website by committee and you can't please everybody all of the time on the web. To have an effective website in 2010 and beyond you must let go the notion that every person/program/PAC/SIG/Chapter/volunteer has a place on your site. It's the ultimate demise of almost every association website we've ever seen. Prepare to leave some people behind. Prepare what you're going to say to them when they get upset. Give them options.
Take your organization to the next level and create a site that means something to somebody. Not a site that means nothing to everyone.
Another great part to listen for is Marissa's Swiss Army knife analogy. Is Google an open SA knife or a closed one? How about your organization? How about your website?