The Vanguard View: Insight for Association Websites

6 Secrets To Launching A Stellar Association Website

Posted by Chris Bonney on Thu, Dec 10, 2009

    

describe the imageThere are a whole bunch of things, of course, that are important to do to make your site incredible before you launch it. And those ideas, strategies and tactics are discussed throughout this blog. For today, though, let's talk about the end of the process. It's pertinent because we find this to be the part of the website redesign experience that gets the least amount of attention, believe it or not.

It's not uncommon to feel that once a site is launched, your project is over. Or worse, that once your website has launched all your members will love it. Why wouldn't they, it's better, right?

If you're embarking on a redesign sometime soon, keep these 6 secrets top-of-mind. While they are not a guarantee of success, they will help you avoid some of the launch pitfalls we've seen over the years.

1. Launch At The Right Time

I'm going to skip the fluff to make sure this message is clear: Do not launch just before your conference or at the beginning of the year. These deadlines create havoc within your organization and most times end up creating a site that could have been better if your staff wasn't preoccupied with another major event occurring simultaneously.

2. Market The Change

Telling people you're redesigning your website even before you've chosen a vendor is not too soon. Six months prior to launch is not too soon. Three weeks after launch is too late. Let your members know that their online experience will be changing in the future and, ideally, provide a mechanism for them to tell you how they feel about that.

3. Show The Way

A complement to #2. Use screencast software to show what your new site can do for your members. In a perfect world, you'd have a screencast completed prior to launch so you could prepare people for the new site with a quick guided tour.

4. Embrace Phase 2

Rarely will you get everything done prior to launch. It never happens. Understand this early and move things to phase 2 as soon as possible so you dedicate the right amount of time and resources to the things that really matter in phase 1.

5. Don't Forget The Past

Don't forget that your members have links to your old website in their bookmarks, emails and conference collateral. Talk to your design firm to ensure they redirect all old links to the home page of your new site.

6. Keep The Important Stuff

Creating a new website can be a really key step to upping your game online, but don't assume because something is new it is better. Survey your constituents prior to embarking on your redesign project to get a feel for what they value on your existing site and make sure you don't leave them high and dry, looking for that old valuable piece of functionality when you launch.

So, do you have any launch experiences you'd like to share. Can you add a #7 to this list?

Image courtesy of NASA.

Topics: web strategy, website redesign, Websites

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