Your website is one of the most important (if not the most important) marketing assets your association or chamber has. It’s where you not only attract (and hopefully convert) prospects, but where you engage your members and provide them with a bulk of their membership value.
So, given the importance of your organization’s membership website, we’re doing a two-part series on website MUSTS. The first part (beginning below) will cover the public-facing side of your website, and the second part (coming tomorrow) will cover the members-only side of your website.
Read on for the five musts of the public-facing side of your membership website:
1. Intuitive navigation
First and foremost, your website must have simple and intuitive navigation. In other words, visitors should know exactly where to go in order to find certain information. They shouldn’t have to stop and think about where to go next or what to click on next; your pages should simply flow.
Now the thing about intuitive navigation is, it can be a bit subjective. If you played a part in designing your membership website or even if you’ve just been using it for quite some time, then you’re familiar with the layout. You most definitely know where to find certain information, and it probably makes sense to you.
But what matters most here is that it makes sense to other people - prospects who are landing on your page for the first time and members who are trying to access their member benefits. Can they easily find what they’re looking for? To be sure, have one or two people outside of your organization explore your website a little. Ask them to find certain information (how to join, how to register for an event, how to view a full list of upcoming events, etc.) and get their thoughts on how easy it is to actually complete.
The more intuitive your navigation, the more likely visitors are to stay and take action.
2. Up-to-date and accurate information
This may seem like a no-brainer to you, but it’s easy for website information to become outdated - quickly! For example, your events calendar. If you have a list of upcoming events, once those events pass, they should be removed from the upcoming events list. (Otherwise, that can be confusing and/or deceiving to visitors.)
It’s also important to regularly check all the links on your website, particularly if you’re linking to any external pages. Overtime, links can be become broken (especially if pages are removed), and that sends the message that your website is out-of-date - even if you have a modern design. Make it a point to just browse your website occasionally and check the links throughout.
And one more suggestion: Double check any and all forms on your website (forms for speaker applications, conference registrations, etc.). Are the dates on those correct? Sometimes when website information is being updated, PDFs can be forgotten, so just keep that in mind!
3. High-quality photos
Think about how many websites you visit in a day. Well your website visitors explore just as much, so in order for your content to stand out, high-quality visuals are a must. They’re attention-grabbing!
You may not be able to take high-quality photos at every event you host (due to lack of equipment, for example), but even if that’s the case, it’s worth hiring a photographer at least once or twice to get some high-quality photos (and possibly even videos) for your website. Many times, your website is the first impression people get of your organization, so you want it to be good!
Tip: If you are in need of a photographer, check with your membership first. You may have some really talented photographers who wouldn’t mind volunteering!
4. A mobile-friendly design
It used to be that having a mobile-friendly design was a “nice to have,” but nowadays, it’s a NEED to have. Nearly half of website traffic comes from a mobile device, and if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, that 50 percent is likely to leave quickly.
This one is imperative. If upgrading to a mobile-friendly website has been on your organization’s back burner for a while, now’s the time to act!
5. Clear (and compelling) calls-to-action
Last, but not least, for your website to drive action of any kind, you have to make those actions clear. Want someone to register for an event? Have calls-to-action (whether in text form or button form - or both!) not only on your event page, but throughout your website, where it makes sense. (For example, if it’s your annual conference you’re promoting, have a call-to-action - that stands out - on the homepage.)
“That stands out” is the key. You want people to take action on your website - that’s engagement in the making! So make those calls-to-action BOLD and easy to understand/complete.
Ok, those are the five MUSTS for the public-facing side of your membership website. Stay tuned tomorrow for part two, where we cover the five musts for the members-only section of your website.
And in the meantime, for a few more website best practices, check out our free guide below!