I used to belong to a small staff association, and was quite active. I had a career shift, and that forced me to re-prioritize and step down from any responsibilities I held temporarily, but now I’m ready and raring to get back into it, complete with a newfound understanding of the needs of Small Staff Associations.
When I went to my old association’s website, I clicked around, but it was painful. If they are recruiting new members (which nearly every association is doing always) they are going to have a tough time because there are several aspects of their website which inspire closing the site immediately.
And they are:
1) Dead buttons and links
If there’s a button that says “Become a Member Now” and you can’t click on it, you’ve lost that member. It’s the Internet. Chances are your visitors aren’t going to have the time or patience to hunt down the actual sign-up form
2) Boring Boring Boring
The Internet is a visual medium. You need appealing colors and a good, solid look.
It’s 2013, officially. I don’t care about 2012’s job listings or the “next event” that’s happening in March, 2012.
4) Too much text
When I want to learn about an association, I’ll certainly read, but not like I’ll read on CNN.com. Keep it short. Highlight the important stuff with bullet points and then go into detail. Of course your goal is to have visitors read the content on your website, but they should have the option to speed read and choose what to delve into deeper. And while we’re talking about text…
5) Too small, too big, too colorful, hard-to-read, all caps or italicized text
Can you read your website? Can your 60-year-old aunt read it? If there’s even a shadow of a doubt, change your text.
6) Too many ads
It may be necessary to have ads on your site, but if they’re obviously cheap-looking or advertising free iPods, I’ll close the window. Be selective when deciding on ads if you need them.
7) Spelling and grammatical errors
This one seems obvious, but I can’t tell you how many websites I’ve seen with silly little errors that just make you cringe. You may be able to get away with one every once in awhile, but by and large you want to put your best foot forward on your website.
8) Long load time
The average adult attention span is 15 minutes. On the Internet, it’s 15 seconds. Keep that in mind.
9) Audio or video that I can’t control
Hopefully we’ve evolved past the days of endless looping instrumental MIDI files, but I’ve seen music enhance a website. However those enhancements are usually pretty annoying and make me jump. Generally unpleasant.
10) No “contact us”
A phone number or working E-mail goes a long way. Where it’s true that I went to your website to find more information and it’s very likely that all of my questions will be answered if I just read more, you get to a point where you want to speak to a human being. If there’s no way to contact a real life person, the site instantly looks shady and un-manned.
Honorable mentions from my helpful friends in the Social Media Professionals Google+ group:
SEO spam (random words added to the website just to boost SEO)
Poor English (or language native to the association)
Poor graphic design
I'm not done. I am going to reach out to all the contacts I can so I can get back involved and hopefully help fix these little errors and use the website as the powerful tool for recruitment that it should be. In the mean time, if you see any of these things on your website, fix them quick!