Many elements go into creating the best possible association website. One of the first – and arguably most important – is creating a web strategy. Understanding your long-term strategic business plan as it relates to producing and maintaining a website will ensure your website is up-to-date with current technology and that nothing on your site – content, design, and systems – become dated.
Key Element #1: Goals and Objectives
Website goals cannot be created in a vacuum. Instead, they must match up with the goals and strategies of the organization. By finding a harmonious blend of member needs and business needs, it will allow you to create a roadmap for how the website should be shaped and thought about.
One way to achieve this is to conduct staff interviews. By interviewing staff who interact with the website in a business capacity, you will gain a unique perspective on some of the most important website needs. Also, you will gain a historical perspective of how users feel about the site. We recommend up to seven interviews from different departments within the organization.
Additionally, conducting member interviews can be very helpful in gaining a real-world view of the website. Understanding how members use the site and what goals they have for the interface can help reveal the trends, strengths, and shortcomings of the existing site as well as allow you to incorporate their ideas into a new site.
Key Element #2: Assets Inventory
An asset inventory is the process and result of cataloging all content on your current website. The end result will be a comprehensive document that reveals what content is currently on your site and where it lives. It will also allow you to consider each piece of content and decide what its purpose is. Some questions to consider: Should it live on the new site or should it be removed and updated? Is this content relevant and useful?
Key Element #3: Competitive Analysis
You can’t create a website in a vacuum and understanding what your competitors are doing right and wrong will help you recognize what your site needs to accomplish. Completing the exercise of a competitive analysis will identify your competitors and make for an important comparison. And, yes, even Google can be a competitor.
Key Element #4: Google Analytics Review
Data is king and Google Analytics is a great way to track what is happening on your site. What insights and trends are evident? How can they be leveraged on the new site?
A full analysis of key data points is one of the most important tools a company can have in the creation of a website. We recommend you don’t just learn the data high and low points but contemplate why they are what they are and how you can use that information to create a web strategy that will help achieve your goals.
Key Element #5: Information Architecture
Once content is inventoried, audience is determined, and data is analyzed, it’s finally time to start structuring the site. The first step is to create a hierarchy of where content should live, not just groups of similar content, but how the information flows from one page to the next. This also includes creating and implementing a navigation bar that allows for an easy user experience.
Key Element #6: Design
Last, but not least, design is what will draw users in and keep them there. It’s critical that the design elements fit with your brand and help tell your story. Moreover, choose a design that has staying power, so you won’t feel the need for a redesign in a year.
By understanding and implementing these six key web strategy elements, you are certain to come away with a website that fits together and is a useful resource for your users.