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Systems Alliance Blog

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Keyword: web content

Ready to embark on a website overhaul? Here’s where to start.

At SAI, we interact with many types of clients, from non-profits to commercial organizations to educational institutions. Despite their unique characteristics, we hear the same core concerns over and over: We know our website needs changes, but we don’t really know how to go about the process of a redesign.

Does this sound familiar? As we’ve shared before, there is often little or no separation between your website and your organization itself. When interacting with your website, it doesn’t matter whether a user is conducting a complex transaction on a desktop or a quick search on mobile; they are making rapid judgments about your brand as a whole based on their experience.

Convincing key decision makers at your organization that your web presence needs attention can be challenging, especially if executives perceive “attention” as “spending a lot of money.” Getting internal support for a big project is harder for some organizations than others, and there are many variables to consider. Depending on the size of your company and the complexity of your website, you could be looking at a significant investment. The key is to influence decision makers of how the investment will ultimately help your organization meet its goals.

If the thought of obtaining buy-in from leadership for a website redesign seems daunting, read on.

  1. Form a committee.  Before the vendor is selected or the first piece of code is written, we suggest a meeting of the minds to agree on objectives. Identify a group of people who are representative of your organization’s goals and interests—about 4-6 key players. Try to select people who (a) have a stake (i.e., the website could actually impact their part of the business), and (b) have some sway. The key is to identify top influencers. 
  2. Set a recurring meeting. Ensure this effort remains a priority by treating is like a “real” project. Set a regular meeting schedule and collaborate using a project management platform to track notes and progress in a central location. We like Basecamp and Taiga, but there are unlimited options on the market. (And no, we don’t get a kickback for our referrals!)
  3. Define business goals. Work with your newly formed committee to identify 3-5 critical business objectives that the new website can help solve. For example, in a membership association, these goals might be metrics like “increase membership” or “increase sales revenue from existing members.”  Getting support from executives for a big project investment will be twice as challenging if you can’t tie the project to a few critical goals.
  4. Define vision and requirements. When you’re making the case that your website needs to be redesigned, it helps if you can articulate a vision for the site—specifically, who is your target audience? How does your web presence need to look and feel? Why/how is it falling short today? From a requirements perspective, what does the site need to accomplish at a bare minimum? What technical requirements ought to be considered (e.g. hosting, using a web CMS, etc.)?
  5. Identify success metrics. Executives think in terms of results, so identifying success metrics—and how you plan to track them—are key.  For a website, these could be tactical goals like increasing web traffic, reducing bounce rates or increasing online leads. You could also think more broadly by tying measurable goals related to sales revenue, market share, etc.

Converting Momentum to Action

Once you’ve formed your committee, identified business goals and success metrics, and presented this information to internal stakeholders, you’re going to run into the question, “how much is this going to cost?” That’s a tough question to answer, because it really depends on what kind of web presence you have today, and what capabilities you want to obtain in the future.

Do your homework to get a sense of the general investment you will need to make. Interview a few companies and ask for cost estimates. A more formal option is to issue a Request for Information (RFI) or a Request for Proposal (RFP) and compare different agencies. If you’re looking for more information, please message me and I’d be happy to connect you with some more tools.

Everyone who is responsible for an organization’s web presence knows that creating, maintaining and updating content is one of the most critical and complex challenges they face.  Timely, relevant and exceptional content will keep users on your website longer, encourage repeat visits, improve search results and contribute to a successful long term web strategy. This approach is universal to just about any industry, but for an association, valuable content is critical for member retention, recruitment and continuing engagement.

At the core of membership organizations is the notion that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  With strength in numbers, a collective voice can help influence policy, advocate for change and generate momentum for a cause.  And those are only the external advantages.   A collective voice can also create relevant and engaging web content that will demonstrate the value of membership – and strengthen the association’s own impact in the process 

Associations that are successful at curating content wisely tap into the expertise and achievements of their member base to highlight advances, spotlight ideas or efficiencies and deliver recent news in the industry. Leveraging members’ common goals not only provides engaging web content but also validates your impact and expertise. 

member spotlights

Be sure to tap into your member network for content. Their work can be a goldmine of images, videos, news, projects and best practices. When our client, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) was collecting images for their new website, they reached out to their member network which resulted in not just images, but a collection of hundreds of quality stories of students and faculty in action. APLU recognized the exciting opportunities that come with leveraging member content by providing prominent real estate on their new homepage to feature member profiles. These “Member Spotlights” are made memorable and inspiring through storytelling. The spotlights are also used as calls to action on key website pages to add dimension in the form of real-world examples to each respective cause.​

Your members are probably equally eager to share their stories and achievements. And there are advantages on both sides. Your members’ work is validated among peers and influencers, they become more invested in the cause and at the same time, you’re increasing membership value by sharing relevant content among your constituents.   It’s a win-win proposition for all involved.

To learn more about how you can add value by creating a member-centric approach to your web presence, join us for our next webinar

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