Website design and functionality has grown considerably in the last few years. For most visitors to your website, their first impression of your brand is formed by the design, content and features offered on your association website. Your website shows online visitors how much thought your association puts into its brand so it’s essential to put your best foot forward.
To connect with both current and prospective members, associations must have an engaging website that delivers easy to understand content that motivates and inspires visitors with a great user experience.
The ability of a website visitor to quickly and easily understand who your organization is and what you are all about cannot be undervalued. If your website is cluttered with numerous, conflicting calls to action, or filled with long paragraphs of small text, it is unlikely that a first time visitor can understand the message your brand is trying to deliver or what value you provide. A visitor needs to know in a couple of sentences what you’re all about. Your association’s website should provide information and become a statement that communicates your values in the industry.
How to test: Unsure if your website’s message is clear? Put yourself in a first time visitor’s shoes and think - at first glance of your website, what is the key takeaway? If you’re unsure or have a list of answers, your message is too cluttered.
Remember, website visitors coming to your site for the first time shouldn’t spend too much time searching for common links of information. According to a Microsoft Research study, your website only has ten to twenty seconds to capture and hold a new visitor’s attention before they decide to stay or go. It is important to understand your visitors to see what information is most important to them, and then ensure your content is easy to find, otherwise they won’t stay very long.
How to test: From any page on your association website, can all other pages be found within two clicks? If not, your website’s navigation probably needs a redesign.
The written content on your website should be concise, well-written and informative. According to a National Center for Biotechnology Information readability assessment, content that exceeds the 7th grade in reading level may jeopardize consumer interaction with businesses, so keep the style and language used simple. Also, make sure you keep site content up-to-date with relevant stats and data, and don’t forget to refresh it on a regular basis to avoid it becoming stale to repeat visitors.
Great content also comes in many forms, so make sure you offer multiple ways to engage. Different content types to capture for your website include:
- Current member testimonials – This is a great way to demonstrate credibility and show how your members see you as valuable.
- Videos - According to online marketing software producer Vocus, a simple 1 minute video is worth approximately 1.8 million words on paper.
- Event photos – A picture is worth a thousand words and shows those who weren’t there, what they missed.
- Blog posts – Blog content allows you to position yourself as an authority in your industry.
- Social media feeds – Social media gives your association a personality, promote current happenings, and the opportunity to interact with members and prospective members.
How to test: Look at how many dynamic pieces of content you have on your homepage. If it’s completely static, consider adding an event feed, blog feed, social media feed, or other just refreshing your content to keep visitors engaged.
With the growth of smartphones and tablets, your website must be mobile friendly. In fact, according to Media Junction, 48% of users say that if they arrive on a website that isn't working well on mobile, they take it as an indication of the business simply not caring.
At WebLink, we build all of our clients’ websites using responsive website design. RWD is a web design approach that provides an optimal viewing experience across desktop computers, smartphones, and tablets, with minimum resizing, panning and scrolling. Benefits of responsive website design include:
- Cost effective because there’s no need to create a main website and a mobile website; it’s all in one.
- Google recommends RWD and actually ranks sites optimized for mobile higher in mobile searches.
- Better user experience and engagement for mobile device users.
For more information on RWD, check out Benji Craig’s blog on Thinking Mobile? Why a Responsive Website Design Should be in Your Association’s Future.
How to test: Not sure if a mobile friendly website is really necessary? Use a tool like Google Analytics to see how many mobile visitors you have and how their behavior compares to desktop users. You’ll likely find some compelling data that says mobile users aren’t staying or engaging as well as desktop users, which means it’s time to go mobile.
Do you need help getting your website up to par? Check out WebLink International’s association website features and request a free website analysis today!