Websites are often the public’s first glimpse into an association. In fact, websites are often referred to as today’s business card. Visitors will often form their first impression of your organization from what they see on your website. Because websites have such a big impact, it is important to take the opportunity to make a positive impression for your visitors, members, donors and customers.
Since websites are such a powerful tool, it is worth exploring the ways in which to improve your site. Associations consist of groups of people (members) who share something: an idea, a feeling, an object. The organization, itself, is responsible for retaining the members and growing the association. One of the most successful tools to grow and share is your website.
Here are some tips for creating a well-regarded site:
1) Associations are member driven. Your website gives you the chance to build membership. It is important to convey the point or purpose behind your association. But, you must do this in a way that is appealing and inviting to a visitor. Take time to draft content that is true to the purpose of your association but also encourages prospective members to want to learn more about your organization. What are the benefits of becoming a member of your association? Who is on your Board? Who are other members? What educational material do you offer?
2) Your website is your outreach tool. Do you have an upcoming meeting? Have your registration link accessible and easy to use. How about your newsletter? Is your sign up link in a prominent place? Think of your association’s events. Add them to an easy to find and easy to read calendar. When valuable information and links are easy to locate, people will follow them. Don’t bury this information- people will become frustrated. Good content is about what you members want to learn, not what you want to push.
3) Stay current. Maintain and update your site. Has there been new press? What about new legislation? Are you offering a new class? No one wants to log on to your site to learn more about your association to only find press releases that are three years old. Remember, your site is the first glimpse into your association. Make sure your impression is positive and upbeat. Show your audience that you care.
Websites should be user friendly tools that create positive experiences for visitors. It is these experiences that will build an association’s membership base, donor pool, and reputation as an industry resource.