Take your Website from “Good” to “Great”

We kicked off Season 2 of the Actual Disruption Series, with a discussion about making a good website a great website.  There’s a lot to unpack when you talk about getting from good to great.  As a starting point, we talked about the foundational elements when considering what a “great” online experience means.  

List of foundational elements of a website includes data and analytics, agile and iterative, performance and scalability and connected experiences.

Great websites rely on data and analytics, agility and iteration, site performance and scalability, and finally creating a connected experience – from online to in-person.    

Connected Experience

What do we mean by a connected experience? A connected experience is translating your live or in-person member experience to the web. Think about how similar online experiences feel in real life.

How would you greet your members at a conference or webinar? How would you speak to them over the phone when renewing their membership? Does your website represent your organization’s brand? Does registering for a course online offer a similar experience to these in-person or live examples? 

Take a restaurant, for instance.   

How were you greeted at the door? What branded merchandise is available? Is the brand always top-of-mind? The key concept here is thinking about the restaurant experience. Your website likewise needs to be both “the front door” to your organization, and provide a great customer or member experience.   

Baseline Website Requirements

Before we cover more indicators of a “good” or “great” web experience, let’s cover the baselines.

Your content must be searchable.  Surprisingly, some sites do not have a search box, but this is a must-have for just a “good” website experience. Especially since associations have tons of content and typically serve multiple audience types or personas (i.e. patients and doctors, realtors and home buyers, students and teachers).

Intuitive Navigation

What are the main reasons members visit your site? What are they typically trying to find or what task are they trying to compete. Make those the most prominent in your site’s navigation and make sure they are organized in an intuitive fashion.

Mobile-First Design

Believe it or not, many sites are not responsive or designed for mobile.  That is inexcusable to users, as traffic is increasingly tilting toward mobile over desktop.

What Does a “Good” Website Include?

Take your baseline functioning search box to a good website experience with faceted search.  Allow your visitors to narrow down their search results with filters based on faceted classifications.

Site Speed

Your site speed is so important to a user’s experience its rewarded by search engines like google. Yes, your organic search ranking could be bumped up with a faster site. A good site’s speed and performance must be cared for and well maintained.

Unfortunately, there is not one platform to cover all your members’ needs. From course registrations and journal purchases to member renewal and online forums, there is a need to link to other platforms from your website. A “good” website makes those links apparent, available, will some level of single sign-on. We’ll talk about upping that user experience when we address integrations (“great” website experience).

How does your website stack up?

Find out with a complimentary site assessment.

Four Pillars of a “Great” Website

The truth is, a great website is going to mean different things to different organizations. There’s no silver bullet when it comes to creating your website, but these four pillars can offer your visitors a great online experience.

A truly great website includes federated search across all of your web platforms.  Additionally, it means using analytics and content strategy to optimize search. A user should be able to type anything into your website’s search box, including actions, like upgrading your account. Think about searching for utilities, like typing in “directory” to get to your member directory.

The next level is getting into things like voice search.  Increasingly, people’s search behaviors rely on Alexa, Siri, and Google Home. That’s how people search in 2021, so your association’s content needs to be at the front of the line so that users are served the most credible results.

Branding & User Experience (UX)

What we mean by this is to ensure consistent branding across all web platforms.  The goal is for zero brand fragmentation. Your members should know that all of your web platforms are part of your association.  Poor brand consistency will confuse your users and members and leads to member dissatisfaction.  

Integrations

A great website and web ecosystem must be fully integrated to deliver a great online experience.  A great website should recognize user behavior due to great integration.  For example, if a member received credit or certification, a fully integrated ecosystem should offer up content or products that are logical for their specific user journey.

Experimentation

When we say experimentation, we’re talking about using functionality like AI and Machine Learning, Personalization, and Multivariate Testing and wrapping them all together to optimize your site’s performance and user experience.  Experimentation requires an organizational mindset that focuses on continuous improvement.

Bonus Pillar: Accessibility

We find organizations need help understanding this topic and what it really means for their website. This short video offers a nice explanation and will help understand the different scopes.

In Summary

Adage works with a variety of non-profits that are dealing with massive amounts of content, numerous platforms, and web properties. It’s these website characteristics that can take your online experience from baseline to good and from good to great.

Improving web experience is about making sure that content from every platform is searchable, branded consistently, and integrated so that users don’t have to login multiple times. Then going a step further to use the information from one platform to personalize content or products on another. Lastly, plan to constantly evolve and improve because that’s what today’s users expect.

You’ve probably heard different versions of a “digital maturity model” or “IT maturity model,” so we created our own “Web Maturity Model” to illustrate what’s included in baseline, good, and great website experiences. Where are you on the Web Maturity Model? Share this with your team to start the discussion.

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