Member-driven associations like yours play a vital role in bringing together businesses, professionals, and stakeholders within your industry. A well-crafted website is not only a digital hub for your members. It’s also a powerful tool for demonstrating the value of membership. As the next generation takes over the workforce, you need to rethink your website to serve a new audience of digital natives.
We’ve found that every member-driven website thrives with the support of several core features. While the use cases for the following elements may vary depending on the size of your organization or its focus, each offers a crucial opportunity to empower members and make a positive impact on your industry.
Your website often gives the first impressions of your organization. Given its importance, every element of your website must look, feel, and function in a way that attracts and engages your members. For associations, that effort begins with ensuring your brand draws a strong connection between your organization and its audience.
Once your brand and messaging are aligned, every association website begins with the following foundational elements:
When your website is built on a platform that’s tailor-made for associations, you can access a suite of features to serve your current generation of members — and the next one.
With effective design and seamless integrations, your site can operate at a higher level by utilizing the following seven features.
Your login page should be easy to find and enable access to member-specific features with single-sign-on (SSO) capabilities that keep them logged in across your site, AMS, and any other resources.
Create a custom user experience by determining the sections of your website that should be accessible to the public as well as vital information that is exclusive to your members. By incorporating single-sign-on (SSO) capabilities between your website and your AMS, your members will be able to log in once and have access to managing their membership, signing up for events, as well as member-only content across your site based on their level of membership (member, associate, committee, board, etc.)
Events are the heartbeat of most associations. They’re often the primary way for members to connect with each other and the organization. Every conference, seminar, and convention should be branded in a way that elevates the attendee experience and draws a positive connection to your organization. Incorporating a dynamic and easy-to-use event section into your website allows members to find and engage with these events, purchase tickets utilizing the AMS, and streamline the registration process. Plus, it builds excitement for what’s ahead.
Nurture the bond between members by offering a full directory of members. Users should be able to browse membership by whatever category suits their needs (region, role, etc.) By syncing your website member directory with your existing member database, you can ensure information about your organization’s most important audience is current and accurate.
Tap into your website’s potential as an educational resource by offering a library of articles, white papers, toolkits, webinars, and other content vital to your members and their industry. It’s critical to organize the resources by categories and implement robust filters that allow users to find what they need quickly and easily.
Manually managing job board submissions is both tedious and inefficient for your members and staff. A modern website enables members to submit and pay for job postings on their own. An approval process allows your staff to review and approve each posting with ease before it’s published, and the posting will automatically expire at the end of its contracted time. This process will not only empower your members to more easily and readily use this important resource, but you’re also saving your team’s time from having to manually manage all these details.
Your membership is a community. Strengthen those bonds by publishing stories and updates from your members that highlight the positive impact of your association. Real-life examples and testimonials inspire current members and encourage new members to join.
Volunteering is critical to most associations. Highlight the various groups and committees within your organization on their own pages. Your website should include details about these groups as well as their leadership and objectives to encourage member involvement. When integrated with the single-sign-on(SSO) functionality, you can give board and committee members tiered access to protected documents.
Association websites are much more than digital brochures or informational archives. They’re the lifeblood of the industries they serve. Implementing these features empowers your organization to connect with its audience and deliver education and advocacy for your overall mission. If these sound like features that will enable your organization to function at a higher level, we should talk.
Securing approval to redesign your association’s website typically comes down to two questions: How much will this cost and how soon can it launch?
The answers for both questions vary, and they’re ultimately determined by your organization’s needs. But no matter how much you’re planning to spend, website projects require a considerable investment in time and effort — and you have to be realistic about both if you want a new website that will serve your association’s goals.
If your association wants a new website by a specific date, you have to understand what goes into its production. At the same time, you should know what factors impact the time required to generate the kind of website your association needs to be successful.
With so many factors in play, successful websites take time. Most well-executed websites require at least six to nine months to produce. And that’s only after the procurement process is complete and the contract is signed. This means you should get started on your project up to a year in advance of your desired launch date.
Hearing your new website project will take so long to design and develop can be frustrating, especially if you hoped to pair the launch with an upcoming event. But your agency needs a minimum of several months because so much planning and effort goes into creating a website.
Successful association website projects typically incorporate the following:
Although six to nine months is an average timeline to research, strategize, wireframe, design, develop, build, test, and launch a new website, the range isn’t set in stone. There are always plenty of factors that can change your time to launch.
At the beginning of a project your agency will develop a custom plan and timeline based on your needs and availability.
The following common factors can potentially increase (or decrease) the time needed to launch a website:
Member-driven association websites require a strong strategy, user-focused design, and the flexibility to connect with external systems. And very often, that only scratches the surface of what goes into a successful launch.
If your association has a firm deadline for a site launch, you need to be realistic about what’s required. Along with allowing enough time for you and your agency to collaborate, you have plenty of other ways to protect your timeline.
You can protect your project launch date by following the following 5 tips:
Of course, without gathering all the details, your association can’t really know the time required to take your website from where it is now to where it needs to be. If you’re looking to get started, we should talk about the next steps.