The Vanguard View: Insight for Association Websites

Content is King! Make it Regal with 3 Questions for Your Association Website.

Posted by Chris Bonney on Tue, Jun 16, 2015


While some say that content is King (and we agree), there are questions your content needs to answer before it can wear the crown.

Don’t be confused by thinking just any ol’ content can be considered King - or even Prince. Convert pauper content to instant royalty by applying these 3 questions to every word, image, feed or video on your association website today.

1. Who is this content for?

The first question to address is “Who is it being written for?”

Sure, it’s easy to say “our members” or “site visitors,” but for your content to really find its way to the noble throne, it helps to ask deeper questions about who might be reading it.

If you don’t have personas developed for your audience, it would be a great exercise for your team. You can see from the screenshot below that a persona is a profile of a potential site visitor and the scenarios indicate what types of actions this potential site user may take on your website.


Personas allow your content team to focus on the needs of site visitors and help avoid posting erroneous content under the premise that “all collateral should live on the website.”

If you’re looking for a quicker fix, make sure your content calendar (you do have one, don’t you?) has an extra column designated for the content audience. It can serve as a nice governance tool as well when a staffer who is requesting content has to articulate who the content is for.

If you can determine specifically who the content is for, then you can move on to the second question.

2. What problem does the content solve?

Assuming we now know who the content is for, what problem is the content solving?

Don’t let your content end up in the dungeon by it never being meaningful to site visitors, yet seemingly having great significance with certain members of your staff. Your site should not be organized by your internal departments (membership, events, advocacy) but by how the site visitors want to experience your content (learn, share, attend).

So, while posting an annual report could be simply checking a box from your bylaws, other content like event agendas, blog posts, and learning pieces should all set out to solve a problem your members (and even non-members) are having.

Phi Kappa Phi needed to reach students and parents (with very different messages) so they created audience-specific navigation to solve the problem. The 4-button navigation bar in the screenshot below is a “persistent” navigation bar meaning it stays in the same place when the user scrolls up and down the page – it never leaves the site visitor’s view.


Organizationally, you should know what the mission of your site is and what your goals are. Then couple that with your audience and what problem you can solve for them, and you are truly on your way to bridging the moat that once surrounded your website.

3. What actions should be taken?

To be King, you must convert. The third question is, “What action do you want your site visitor to take? Is there something they should do when they arrive on the site? Maybe before they leave the site?”

Have you defined the points of conversion for your site in your content plan? Before you post something that is actionable, do you consider the path a user must take to find it? Does that path of content pages make sense?

What types of actions might a site visitor take? They could view certain pages, download a PDF, fill out a form, ask for more information, gather an email address or register for an event.

But these are obvious. Let’s open our thinking a bit.

  • Is your content shareable? Could it go viral?
  • Are you doing more than words? Is video, audio or even canned webinars part of your content arsenal?

Diversifying your content helps ensure there is something for everyone in a format they prefer. Beyond sharing your content, you’ll also want to consider if your content could be repurposed. What better way to get the word out about you organization than to have a member repurpose a PDF they downloaded from your site to help their customers?

So, while it’s always nice to be Queen for a day, the reality is it takes more than hitting the publish button to become King.

Spend some time with your content team reviewing these questions and make a concerted effort to up your content game. After all, nobody wants to be the Court Jester.

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Topics: web governance, content strategy, association websites

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