The Vanguard View: Insight for Association Websites

7 Questions To Ask About Your Association Website

Posted by Chris Bonney on Mon, Mar 11, 2013


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If you’re still thinking about your website as a standalone marketing entity that you leverage to provide online services to your members, then you’re a dinosaur.

The power of the web and how it connects people is no longer something we nod our heads in agreement about – it’s a way of life. Demographics don’t dictate how your members use the Web (“Let’s do social networking for the younger members!”) – it’s their TECHNOgraphic profile that influences their online behavior.   

It’s no longer enough to say that your Web strategy needs to map up to your organizational strategy, they are one in the same.  We also know that your members will be accessing your website over their mobile devices as often (and very soon, more often) than they do over their laptops.

Below are seven questions to help your association shake loose from old beliefs about your association website and start thinking about it not as a part of organization, but as your organization itself. There are no right or wrong answers to the questions below, but they are questions that you owe your organization an answer to immediately.

1.    Why do members log in to our website?

If your answer is to access important information online, then you should check out what MIT has done for years and have a reality check on how valuable your “members only” information really is.

2.    What would happen if we opened up our valuable members’ only content to everyone?

Maybe MIT is a model to follow and maybe it’s not, but be sure to address this question first and see where the conversation goes. What if you offered a web-only subscription membership? Check out the Best Practice Institute for a look into the future of association services and membership models.

3.    What is the technographic breakdown of our member segments?

If you haven’t done a technographic survey of your membership, now is the time.

4.    How will our organization adapt to the fact that each year our members will be accessing our website on their mobile device as much as they do on their laptop?

The key word is “context.” Don’t simply emulate your website on a mobile device. Think about how your members may find value in a contextual experience that speaks to the device’s strengths.  

5.    What’s our plan for responsive web design?

Smartphones, tablets, laptops and even TVs are the screens your members are viewing your website on today –  and those options will continue to expand. What screen sizes are you prepared for? Responsive design is the answer.

6.    What’s our plan to make our home page more user-centric?

Maybe your association is different, but most website home pages highlight organizational needs and services more than members’ needs. Providing true user value by focusing on what members are coming to your site to do is the future. Know your conversion flows and make them easy to follow.

7.    How will we address online competitors that don’t charge membership?

Or do charge membership. Or have events or don’t have events. It doesn’t matter. The fact is many organizations have been beaten to the punch by other online entities including other associations, social networks and for-profit companies. What’s your plan to respond?  Or what can you do to beat them to the punch?

So, there’s the list. Maybe fire off a couple of these at your next staff meeting to see where the conversation goes. Comment below on how it goes. Or even tell us if you think there should be an 8th question. Did we miss one? 

Looking for more insight into what members want from your association website and how to best serve them? Check oout our eBook 10 Things Members Want from Your Association Website.

Topics: web strategy, association website design, associations

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