As we gear up to sponsor the ASAE Technology Conference, we asked our team of experts a single question: "Thinking about a website design for an association in 2017: What is the most important recommendation you would give an association considering a website redesign next year?" Below are responses from across the agency:
1) "Websites should offer a speedy mobile experience." ~ Etienne Stettler
2) "I recommend high quality photography. It best catches the eye visually. If there aren't any photos available, illustrated graphics help too." ~ Julie Kang
3) "The most important things to consider when redesigning a website are making it accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities, and to ensure that the website works across all types of devices. As such, the website should utilize Responsive Design and adhere to Section 508 Standards and the WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.)" ~ Christian Abad
4) "It's all about engagement. No matter if you are seeking to attract new members, or dive deeper with your current members, associations need to spend time thinking through every step of their engagement cycle. Membership organizations who utilize a Member Centric Journey are better able to attract, convert, service and delight new and existing members." ~ Bret Peters
5) "Dynamic, persuasive content is in: whether using inline video or scroll-triggered content changes, website visitors expect complex content to be engaging to view and read. Not every page must be like this -- focus on your core messages and most innovative content contributions, and spend the time (and budget) to develop a compelling page that tells an immersive story to your audience. People will spend more time reviewing and understanding what you have to say, and as a bonus, they're more likely to share the page with their peers." ~ Jessica Moore
6) "Your website should pass the 5 Second Rule. Namely, when a user comes to your site for the first time they should be able to answer the following questions within 5 seconds:
A) What is it?
B) What do I do next?
Think of your website as a billboard. You've got 5 seconds to get your message across." ~ Doug Ward
7) "Consider your design from the point of view of the site visitors. Ask yourselves what information they would most likely be looking for and how they would go about finding it." ~ Robert Segal
8) "Put more effort into making your website accessible to those with disabilities than you do making your website render nicely in older versions of Internet Explorer." ~ Andrew Mills
9) "If you are an association and you are planning on designing a new website in 2017, the smartest thing you can do is plan for marketing automation integration right from the beginning. A few years back, marketing automation was a "nice to have" element -- from now on, it will be a required piece of the puzzle for any association, because it allows you to serve custom content to your members based on interests, test and measure which messages work the best, and stay in touch via email in a more relevant way. And if you plan for marketing automation during the early part of the website design process, it is 10x easier to execute than if you try to tack it on at the end. " ~ Will Marlow
10) "I think what would be most important for an association website redesign is for the association to understand their targeted audience. Understanding their members and their needs will help them to create the right persona and deliver the correct information at the right time." ~ Reginald Cooper
11) "I would say having an intuitive design: can I quickly find answers to my questions and is everything presented in a beautiful, well-designed way and is the content accurate and up-to-date?" ~ Mike Tangorre
12) "When create your website's information architecture, keep the mobile site in mind as much as the desktop site." ~ Joe Flowers
13) "A website redesign is never done. A website is a constant evolving, ever-changing communication and information medium. The content, that users consume and use, is what makes up a great website. So your website needs to be the foundation for serving content to your users." ~ Seth Land
14) "Make sure you have a detailed understanding of every point of integration between your site and third-party services, since all of these integrations may have to be recreated from scratch in the redesigned site." ~ Vlad Oprica
15) "The most important aspect of a website is not its appearance but whether the people who generally use the website to find information about its owner can find it easily and quickly. In general, in my experience as a knowledge manager, that ease is a direct reflection of the native organization of the information. Just as Confucius, when asked what he would do first as Emperor, reportedly said he would rectify the language because '"If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success." So information should be organized to assure that what people need may be found easily." ~ David Saumweber
16) "Separate your Content Management System (CMS) from your Association Management System (AMS) but ensure that you validate the ability to integrate the two." ~ David Gallerizzo
17) Think of your web site in terms of the actions that you want to happen, rather than as a set of "things" like documents. What actions do you expect your web site to perform? Who should be able to do what, with your web site?" ~ Dave Watts
18) "For the next few years, I think the big shift is towards Purpose Driven Navigation v. Browse Driven Navigation, as related to desktop users versus mobile. I think the logic behind the "click for action" style navigation has shifted from an on page enticement, to a behind-the-eyes user drive. With mobile devices we have shifted from "web surfing" to how fast can I get my answer. I think the most important mantra in current redevelopment should be "am I allowing my user access to the right button fast enough, or is the user going to view my site as an obstacle to their goal?" ~ Will Kirchheimer
Now it’s time to start planning your website redesign for 2017. We invite you to learn more about Fig Leaf Software and our expertise planning, designing and developing responsive websites for associations.