Website design for association is a big deal for MemberClicks. It’s a big part of the services we offer to small staff associations: membership database solutions, event registration, and website packages among other services.
We see all kinds of associations, but most of the management structures are similar: association executives, board, committees with leaders and members, and the general membership. Associations tend to see changes and needs like this: “Got a problem? Let’s get a committee on it!” It’s just the way the thinking goes.
But then I read the article, and I realized Chris has a good point. He relayed a story involving one of his website designs meeting a tragic end at the hands of a 7 person committee:
“Within minutes my relevant, strategic design was pulled apart limb from limb until it barely resembled a website at all. With all the convoluted input from the table, what was finally agreed to for the design was lacking in many areas that the committee didn't at the time realize. It also did not match what they had identified as their main goals for the layout: simple and easy to use. Happens all the time.”
Too many cooks in the kitchen? Chris isn’t the first person attempting to design a website with that problem. Actually, most people can relate to that problem at one time in their professional life or another.
Chris goes on to recommend a small committee. So small, in fact, that it might be just one person.
Let’s think about this for a second. It’s easy to see the compulsion to form a committee for website design. A website is a really crucial thing for an association. In a lot of cases, it’s one of the first impressions a lot of people see. The layout and availability of information could make the difference between active members and idle clickers. A well designed website often does its own recruitment with search engines alone. Naturally, you’d want several of your best brains on the project.
However consider that website design doesn’t necessarily call for “Twelve Angry Men.” You’re likely employing a knowledgeable, qualified designer who has a lot of professional experience. At some point, you should trust the experience for which you are paying him or her.
Lots of opinions can lead to classic over thinking, which can lead to a lot of headaches. Start with one trusted point person for your new website, but keep a few other members in the loop for consultation if necessary. If and when you do bring other people in, be clear about what’s going on and the specific points you have questions about. Asking, “What do you think?” can be asking for trouble, especially when you’ve worked for a while with the designer and have things pretty well pegged.
Ultimately, it's up to your specific association, but keep Chris’ story in mind. A committee might not be the best idea for your website.