Designing a website for an association can be a tricky proposition. In some ways, industry groups are like private businesses, but in other ways they function more like clubs or nonprofits. That means there are a lot of features and standards that need to be met all at the same time.
Still, things get clearer once you follow a handful of established guidelines. Having partnered with dozens of different associations at the local, regional, and national level, here are a few items we consider indispensable to an association website:
A Clear Sense of Purpose and Direction
Your association doesn’t exist for no reason, so your website shouldn’t feel as if it were thrown together without any purpose or direction. Instead, you should make it very clear whom you help or are advocating for.
If your association is limited to certain businesses, professions, or geographic areas (as examples), make sure that information is prominent and easy to understand. That will help you gain visibility on search engines, and also increase engagement with your website from the right audiences.
Information for the Public and Press
Most associations have communication that flows in two different directions: to the public and toward members (or those considering membership).
Make the public-facing parts of your website easy to find. Better yet, stock them with informational pieces that explain issues and points of view in simple, non-technical terms. Make your case without jargon or buzzwords. And, don’t forget to include links and resources for media members who might need background information for a story or want to contact a member of your team for an interview.
Online Resources for Association Members
It’s important to communicate with the public through your website, but most of your content (and attention) will probably be directed toward your membership.
What kinds of online resources could you build for members? The possibilities are endless, but our clients like to upload calendars, newsletters, event registration links, guides and videos with current best practices, and blog articles that feature updates on economics and legislation. Of course, you could go even farther – the only limit is your imagination.
Ways for Members to Join and Renew
No matter how large or small your association might be, keeping and adding members is likely to be a top priority. Your website offers a convenient and cost-effective tool for both.
With online portals you can let new member sign on to your organization, and give existing members ways to update their contact information or renew for another year. You could even have links for sponsors, board members, and other interested parties. Managing the details online (or at least having an online option) reduces costs on your end while adding convenience for the people you serve.
Want Help Building Your Association Website?
As we have noted, association web design is a distinct discipline within the digital marketing industry. If you’re looking to launch a web presence that will grow your membership or increase your members’ influence then it helps to have the right creative team on your side.
Contact us today to learn more about our approach to association web design and see what we’ve been able to do for other clients just like you.