That said, for your association’s website to be effective, there are a few “no-nos” we highly recommend you avoid. Specifically…
1. Outdated events
Once an event passes, it needs to be removed from your association’s website ASAP. Not only does leaving it on there confuse people, but it draws attention away from your upcoming events. (People are only going to spend so much time on your association's website. Make sure the time they spend there is productive by highlighting things they can get involved in, rather than things they could’ve gotten involved in.)
Now a big mistake association professionals often make is removing the event in one or two places, but not everywhere. For example, removing the event from the calendar, but leaving it in the copy of the “upcoming events” page. Just take time to make sure your website copy (particularly in regards to your events) is consistent.
2. Static copy
You don’t have to constantly overhaul your website for it to be engaging, but a few tweaks here and there every now and then IS important. Static copy gives people an excuse not to come back: They’ve already seen everything you have to offer. But if you change your copy (update images, add new blog posts, etc.), you’re giving people a reason to come back and engage.
3. Broken links
This is SUCH a big no-no - for many reasons. 1) It makes your association’s website difficult to navigate. People can’t get to where they’re trying to go. 2) It hinders engagement. If people are stopped dead in their tracks, rather than trying to find another way, they’re likely to just abandon your site altogether. 3) Worst of all, it gives off a bit of an “unprofessional” vibe. It drives people to the conclusion that your website is outdated, and by extension, your association. NOT good, and likely, not true! So the big takeaway here: Once a quarter (at least), walk through your website and double check those links.
4. Buried member login/contact information
Like we mentioned earlier, your website serves many purposes: to recruit, engage, and retain. But in order to effectively accomplish all three, the member login area and your association’s contact information MUST be easily identifiable (as in, located on just about every page of your website).
The Florida Society of Association Executives’ website is a great example. See how the member login is at the top of every page and the organization’s contact info is at the bottom of every page? That’s KEY for engagement, and by extension, member retention.
5. A “low-key” join now button and/or page
Sometimes, it’s good to be low-key about certain messages. After all, not everything can be front and center. But the one thing that should absolutely be front and center: your “join now” button and page. It should be on your homepage (possibly even in a different color so it stands out) and in your navigation bar. There should be multiple calls-to-action throughout your association’s website (on your About Us page, on your Membership page, etc.) encouraging people to join. And this probably goes without saying, but the application process should be fairly seamless. (In fact, here are five tips for making online member application forms easy.)
If you don’t ask people to join, that’s a HUGE missed opportunity for your association - and a major no-no to avoid!
Want more tips for ensuring your association’s website is top-notch - one people will want to engage with and keep coming back to? Check out our free guide, Membership Websites: The Mothership of Online Member Engagement, below!