For associations and other nonprofit member organizations, it is crucial to keep their members engaged and informed through an updated and well functioning, user friendly website. At the same time, the website should also attract potential members – therefore act as a sales tool. To design a website that suits both criteria can be challenging.
Here is what you should keep in mind:
Look & Design:
Make sure your website has a clean look: choose colours and fonts wisely. The days of bright flashing headlines are long gone. It needs to be intuitive and easy to navigate. Keep in mind: when people do not find what they are looking for within 5-20 seconds, they will likely leave the site. User friendliness is key to a successful website. To ensure a good user experience, make sure your menu & navigation bar is well thought through. Areas of the website that your audience visits often, should be easy to find. Make those areas their own menu item.
It is also very important that your site is mobile friendly or responsive, as Internet usage on mobile devices nowadays exceeds the Internet access via computers.
Who are you targeting? Baby Boomers, Generation X’ers or Millennials? Do not forget that each generation (age group) uses the internet slightly differently. If you are targeting Millennials for example, be sure your website is connected to all existing Social Media Channels. Millennials practically live on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. However, connecting with others through Social Media might not a priority to your older members. If your organization is formed of members of all ages, targeting your audience might be tricky.
Make sure you provide relevant content for your members: inform about industry news and changes from around the globe, current stats and predictions, industry influences and maybe even industry history. Do not forget: if your audience has a wide age range, be sure to also make this information available through other funnels: regularly update your Facebook, Twitter, and other Social Media Sites with information that link back to your website. The younger generations get almost 100% of their daily information through Social Media.
Call to Actions:
You likely want your audience to take a specific action when visiting your website: Join? Renew? Sign up for an event? Donate? Download industry relevant information?
No matter what it is you want people to do, their eyes always land on visuals. Make your ‘Call to Action’ buttons stand out; do not let them get lost within paragraphs of text. Although the design of your CTA’s should stand out, be careful not to exaggerate. It should be cohesive with your branding.
If you have a white paper, invite your site visitors to download it. The downloaded paper automatically turns into a lead for a potential new member/sponsor, etc.
Besides your common Social Media Networks, consider a ‘members only community’ on your website – it could be a valuable member benefit. Exclusive access to important industry information and expert advice can be one of your top member acquisition and retention tools.
Online communities not only help people connect and stay connected in between events, they can also be the base of discussions and a place for members to seek for advice or help other industry professionals.
Optimize your site:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a very important aspect of a website. Without SEO your website can not be found as easily. And if it cannot be found, it does not exist. Your members may know about you, but what about all the potential members, the potential sponsors?
SEO requires constant maintenance: it’s all about keywords and content. However, social shares, inbound links, time spent on your page and numbers of pages visited all factor into the search equation.
Make sure to use important keywords and phrases people will search for as headlines on your page. Tag your post or the pictures you use in your post with said keywords. Use keywords throughout but do not constantly repeat yourself. Use a variety.
It is also important to add new content to your website regularly. And don’t forget about your audience that spends most of their time on Social Media: drive them back to your website through posts on your Social Media Channels. Lastly – offer quality. Your content needs to be relevant and valuable. Link to other external sites if necessary; hopefully your content will be valuable enough to them to link back to yours.