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5 Factors that Can Make or Break Your Association Website Redesign

Written by Julie Dietz on December 19, 2016 at 8:30 AM

Your association's website redesign needs to be carefully thought out.

There was wood everywhere. Paper on the floor, nails on what was left of the counter, and a paint-splattered drop cloth was all that protected the kitchen tile. It was a mess.

That's how my kitchen looked during its recent upgrade. The end result was beautiful, but redoing an entire room was a huge undertaking.

It took weeks to finish, cost a fortune, and there were probably at least half a dozen considerations that I didn't fully think through before work got started.

That's how a website redesign feels.

The Challenges in Redesigning Your Association's Website

There may not be any physical nails strewn along your desk, but it will likely be a virtual mess. If you've ever been through a website redesign, you know that websites have so many more pages than you notice at first glance, internal links, keywords and content that all need to be maintained or migrated during the redesign.

That doesn't even get into branding, navigation, or walking your loyal members through the transition.

If your organization is considering a website redesign, make sure you think it through. By doing your due diligence in the planning stage, you'll help ensure that your new website is successful and meets staff, customer, and member needs. If you don't, your redesign could fall flat, or worse, chase valuable members and prospects away.

So don't start redesigning your website until you've evaluated these five redesign components and how they will impact your association's growth, strategies, and members.

5 Crucial Factors in an Association Website Redesign

Factor #1) Goal

Why are you redesigning your website?

You should never do a redesign just because you think it's time. Instead, redesigns should be based on your members and meeting their expectations. For instance, you could redesign to make navigation clearer, incorporate mobile functionality like responsive design, or keep up with your members' style preferences.

Clearly define the goal for your redesign and make sure all your website changes help you achieve that goal. This will also help you determine the extent of your website redesign. Do you need to redo everything, or can you just update your association's brand colors and apply them throughout the framework you already have?

Once you know how extensive the work is, you'll have a good idea of how disruptive the process will be to your members. Use that information to start conversations about the project and proactively reduce the frustration it could cause. Explain what you're doing, why, and how it will benefit members so they know what to expect.

Factor #2) Current Website Structure

Right now your association's website likely contains hundreds of pages in addition to navigation and links. Do a full inventory of all these pages and their URLs, as well as a map of what links and menus lead where. Your inventory should give you a complete understanding of how your site is put together.

Then, during your redesign, try to minimize the changes you make to your URLs so you don't lose the SEO that each page has been building up. When you do make changes, be sure to redirect the old URL to the new page instead of simply deleting it. That will help preserve your website and individual page ranking.

A website redesign is also a great time to clean up your navigation. If any of your links or menus are confusing, you can optimize them to create a clearer flow for your members and prospects. Just remember to double-check your links and navigation before going live. You don't want to forget any important links from your current site.

Factor #3) Traffic Sources

Your website is likely receiving visits from a number of different sources, including:

  • Direct Traffic "“ members who type in your web address
  • Referrals "“ outside websites linking to your association
  • Social Media "“ Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter pages
  • Organic Search "“ Google, Bing, and Yahoo

Organic search is typically the biggest source of website traffic, but all these pages should be built around keywords or topics to help them "get found" by members and prospects. Make sure you know what keywords your website is currently using and incorporate those into your redesign. You can also review how relevant or effective your keywords are. Remove keywords that are no longer relevant and add keywords that you would like to rank for in the future.

Often, if you add keywords you'll have to build out new content as well. You may need to create new pages that feature the new keywords, write blog posts, and update the content that's already performing well with fresh keywords you want to rank for. This could increase the time and effort your website redesign needs.

Factor #4) Content and Data

During your redesign you'll need to move everything from your current website, membership database, and private member community over to your new site. The more material you have to migrate over to your new site, the longer your redesign will take. Some of the material you'll transfer to your new site may include:

  • Content
  • Data
  • Website copy
  • Benefits
  • eBooks, white papers, research, and other offers
  • Products

You're not obligated to migrate everything over to your association's new website, just what you want to continue offering to your members. If you have content or products that you're ready to get rid of, your website redesign is an ideal time to do so. Just don't transfer the outdated material to the new site, but remember to purge this content sparingly. Getting rid of too much could hurt your SEO.

Factor #5) Duration and Price

Changes to your website aren't something you can drop in the middle if they get too expensive or take too much time, so take cost and project duration into account before embarking on a redesign. If you decide to go ahead with the updates, you need to see the project through or risk frustrating your members and staff.

Website redesign costs vary widely from company to company, but base prices typically start between $15,000 and $25,000. That does not include page migration, website marketing strategy, custom templates and functionality, or content creation. Many organizations end up paying a hundred thousand dollars or more for a full website redesign.

Take into account how your goal, current website layout, keywords and content, and data will affect your redesign. The larger the scope of the work, the more expensive the redesign will be and the longer it will take.

Expert Tip: The firm doing your website redesign will also affect cost. To stretch your budget, look into whether or not your membership management software or online community provider offers design and technical services.

A redesign done by your current technology vendor will often be cheaper because your association is already a valued client. Additionally, your technology provider is already familiar with your association and its website, which can make redesign work easier.

Association Website Redesign Takeaway

Redesigning your website is a big undertaking, so before you make a final decision, be sure you're prepared to put the necessary resources into the project. You need the budget, time, and expertise to redesign and migrate all your website information correctly. You also need to ensure that your members are aware of the changes and will feel comfortable using your new site.

Once you've made your final decision, find a reputable website design firm or a trusted technology partner that you're already comfortable with to do the work. The best design services will ensure that your website redesign goes as smoothly as possible for everyone involved.

Use this guide to evaluate, select, and plan a successful online community for your association.

Topics: Associations, Marketing Automation, Online Community

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