Make Your Website Work Harder With A Limited Budget
Make Your Website More Dynamic – Without Too Much Extra Work!
Let’s say due to budget concerns because of COVID-19, you’ve been approached by your executive director to make your association’s website more interactive. While at first this may seem like a daunting task, there are countless existing software applications that you can plug into your website to make this happen.
From cloud-based videoconferencing platforms, with all kinds of new features and security deployed recently, to chatbots that simulate human conversations, these interactive technologies can make your association website more dynamic and engaging.
“Clients have been reaching out about integrating a number of items on their websites, from the chatbot installed on the Residential Real Estate Council website (crs.com) to Zoom, which we are integrating with their content management systems for a number of clients’ websites to host online meetings,” said Mike Wiley, president of Vanguard Technology.
Numerous conference call providers like GoToMeeting, RingCentral and Zoom offer technologies that can be integrated into your website to support large videoconference sessions with up to thousands of participants:
- While the free version of Microsoft’s GoToMeeting is limited to only audio conferencing, video conferencing is available for a fee. GoToMeeting also has screen-sharing capabilities. The one-click meeting solution makes it easy for beginners
to figure out the software. Anyone who uses GoToMeeting can also start meetings using a downloaded app. Meetings can also be initiated using Microsoft Office programs, chat links and email.
- RingCentral, also from Zoom, offers a fully integrated video and telephone experience for organizations of all sizes. It is also accessible without having to download anything, since it works right in the web browser. RingCentral also features enterprise-grade security, and a wealth of integrations with the other apps you use every day like Microsoft Teams and Salesforce.
- Although there were some issues with Zoom that attracted public attention when usage surged during the pandemic lockdown, such as call hijacking or "Zoom-bombing," the platform has become far more secure. Calls now can be password-protected so they are
only accessed by inputting a nine- to eleven-digit meeting code. Zoom also can conduct live presentations with all attendees muted or where everyone can be seen and contribute to create a virtual networking event.
Video widgets make it easy to embed videos into your association website. Most support videos from numerous platforms including YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia and even those that are self-hosted such as MP4/WebM video files. The videos are delivered to mobile devices as well as desktop and laptop computers directly from the CDN like YouTube while appearing to play through the website.
Chatbots that simulate live conversations with humans are transforming the way associations interact with members and sponsors. Today, chatbots — which use artificial intelligence combined with natural language processing — can handle any number of customer service tasks ranging from referring members to information on other parts of your website to qualifying leads who visit your website.
Virtual Exhibit Halls
There are existing systems that are so advanced that you can create your own avatar and walk through a virtual exhibit hall that looks just like a tradeshow floor with numerous layout options. If you don’t have the budget for that, or you think your members might be intimidated by the technology, you can use less-sophisticated systems that still provide a good amount of quality interaction and exposure. And, if you are using a content management system you can set it up so the sponsors can edit their own information and allow members to reach out directly to sponsors.
The Website is the Center of the Action
As long as in-person events are suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic, the website will become the central meeting spot for association members and sponsors. When members sign in as users, they can access any number of interactive widgets, which can be added easily to your website at little or no cost. Why reinvent the wheel when it might have been developed for you already? And why not leverage the technology you are already paying for?
President Vanguard Technology