There’s a common misconception that a website is a set-it-and-forget-it kinda thing. Well, I’m here to tell you that’s not true! Even if you’ve recently gone through an all-out redesign (best practice is to redesign about every three years), you’ll still want to keep a close eye on maintaining everything from top to bottom.
Why? Your membership website is arguably your best tool for both member recruitment and retention — so it’s important that all of your information is accurate, relevant, and engaging.
It’s a little overwhelming to think about it as a whole, but break website maintenance into two categories — short-term and long-term — and it’s a lot easier to digest:
Short-term website maintenance
Inevitably, there will be small things that you’ll have to be more reactive to: misspelled words, broken links, an image that uploaded funky, etc. It’s the old “if it takes less than 5 minutes, do it now” rule: make these edits as soon as you can after they’re brought to your attention to get it off your plate — and off your mind! Plus, your member website is often the first impression and you don’t want that typo lingering.
There are plenty of ways to proactively maintain your website in the short-term, too. What are some things that change on a relatively regular basis?
- Benefits are added (or details change)
- Events come and go
- New resources are created
- Jobs open and are filled
You get the idea. Make sure that website updates are a key part of your process for everything — or at least get into the habit of asking yourself: Is there anything related to this on our membership website that needs to be updated, too?
Long-term website maintenance
Like I mentioned, best practice is to revisit your website’s design about every three years. In part to stay fresh and keep up with trends, but also because it’s probable that over that amount of time your goals as an organization will change.
And as your goals change, your strategy behind member recruitment will too — so you’ll need a member website that can support that strategy. We recommend starting to talk about a website redesign at least six months before you’re ready to start the work on it so you have ample time to make an effective plan.
Chances are, your membership itself will also change in that amount of time. Make sure you consider their needs and wants in any long-term maintenance plan, too, so you can also maintain (or even improve!) their level of engagement with you and your membership website.
Yes, your website is an important member engagement tool! But in order to effectively engage your members — and prospects — the right content and design are key. For tips and best practices regarding both the public-facing side of your membership website and the members-only side, check out our free guide, How to Create an Engaging Membership Website!