When Tamesha Logan joined the National Athletic Trainers Association as its director of marketing and public relations in 2014, she had a call with every board member. One thing they all identified as an area for improvement was NATA’s website.
After 18 months of hard work, NATA unveiled a new website in March 2016 that was both visually appealing and highly functional. The website, which earned a 2017 Gold Circle Award from ASAE in the website redesign category, has also garnered kudos from members, staff, and external audiences, thanks to improved functionality, navigation, and integration. Here are some best practices from NATA for other associations considering a website redesign:
Ask users what they want to accomplish on the site. To get started, Logan collaborated with NATA’s IT department on a plan that began with her team collecting data about the web user’s experience—in essence, what did people want to do on the site?
To answer this question, NATA conducted focus groups at its annual convention and assembled an advisory group to provide feedback throughout the process. Logan says that while some members jumped straight to the prescription, as in “you guys should build an application,” the team remained focused on what people wanted to accomplish on this site. After receiving this information, the team determined that, in order for the new site to be effective, navigation needed to be simplified and the number of necessary logins had to be reduced.
Build the site for “casually connected” members. While NATA’s marketing and communications team used feedback from its most engaged members, it also recognized that the site had to be designed for a group it defined as being “casually connected” to the organization. This segment of members was less familiar with the association and only visited the site periodically throughout the year. NATA realized that if it built the site with these members in mind and created defined calls to action, it had the chance to deepen the casually connected member’s connection to the association.
We all shared a common goal—we wanted to build something great for our members.
Metrics show that this focus paid off. While the same audience continued to use the site, post-launch page views increased by 24 percent, even though members were on the site the same length of time. In other words, members were learning more about NATA, while accomplishing the same tasks in less time. The website’s bounce rate (i.e., users who hit one page and exit) also dropped by 26 percent.
Include all staff in the project. Because every department at NATA interacts with the website, Logan says the project was positioned at the onset as an association-wide project. This meant putting all the different pieces into the proposal, ensuring continued communication with the IT team, and structuring the project with an all-hands-on deck approach.
“The website was definitely an association-wide priority. Our executive director, board, and everyone all understood that this web redesign was a great opportunity to improve member experience,” Logan says. “In essence, we all shared a common goal—we wanted to build something great for our members.”
For example, staff from departments that provide content for the website worked directly with a member of the marketing and communications team to review and update their respective content.
Another feature of the new website that required help from other departments was the single sign-on function. Prior to launch, members needed a separate login for NATA’s career center page and convention site, as well as their AMS. By getting input from these departments, NATA was able to integrate single sign-on and, as a result, eliminate the biggest complaint about the previous website.
Consider how to maintain the site post-launch. While it’s easy to focus your attention on the lead-up to launch, associations must also develop tools to keep their site in good shape for the future. In NATA’s case, this meant the web developer writing out best practices and developing an online branding guide.
The association is also training content managers on how to update their sections of the site. To accomplish this, each content manager will have a unique login, and a workflow process has been established that limits access to defined areas and requires the web developer’s approval before changes will publish to the web. This process will not only improve efficiency for all involved but also ensure more accurate information for members. Logan says this process will ultimately reduce work because “inaccurate information results in frustrated members who then have to call and/or email to get information that should be readily available on the website.”