This is a guest post by Lamees Abourahma, the founder and president of Webbright, a Wild Apricot value-added service provider.
If you're not growing your membership or generating the kind of revenue you want, your website could be a major culprit. In fact, most membership organizations suffer from at least one major website problem. The good news is, fixing these website issues is probably a lot easier than you might think. To help you, I've put together this quick guide on how to diagnose your website for four common problems, and how best to address them.
Problem 1: Holes in the Registration Process
When people go to your website to register for your events, do they have to complete any of the steps manually, like printing off a PDF form or writing a paper check and sending it to you? If so, you are creating holes in the registration process that could be costing you registrants.
The Ski Club of Washington DC used to have this problem. For years, the club would begin promoting their events months in advance, but because the registration process involved manual steps, registrations came slowly and collecting payment took a long time. This created cash flow problems, because the club had to place down payments on flights and lodgings. This summer, Gary Rubens of the ski club switched to an online form and an online payment provider.
Within one month of promoting the club’s upcoming winter trip, all spots were filled and the club’s cash flow increased by $18,000, allowing Gary to cover all his deposits.
As Gary put it, “This is by FAR the earliest we have ever sold out a ski trip... Our President and Board are also tremendously impressed.”
To make the move from manual steps to a completely online process, all you have to do is set up an online event registration form which connects with an online payment processing system such as PayPal. With membership management software, you or your webmaster could set everything up in half an hour. If you use Wild Apricot, click here for instructions.
Problem 2: Your Site Isn’t Where Your Visitors Are
Are people coming to your site, but not staying very long? If that’s the case, one likely cause is that your website isn’t where your visitors are — on their mobile devices.
Currently, more people look at websites on their phones than on their computers. Have you tried finding information on your website from your phone? Do you find it easy to do? Do you have to keep zooming in and out to read information? If you do, it means your site isn’t mobile friendly. Prospective members coming to such a site are likely to leave because they find it frustrating.
Updating your website to be mobile-friendly can keep people on your website longer, because they’ll have an easier time accessing information and signing up for events and even a membership.
If you’re ready to make the step towards becoming mobile friendly, here is a list of best practices to engage in when updating your website.
Problem 3: Out-of-Date Out-of-Mind
When was the last time you updated the look of your website? Was it years ago? Does it look old and outdated? If that’s the case your website visitors may think your organization is old and outdated too, or as one frustrated board member described her association website, “just look at it, it’s atrocious.”
Conversely, a newly designed site that looks impressive will make visitors think your organization is impressive too. When that’s the case, prospective members are more likely to believe you offer lots of value to your members.
To help evaluate whether your website is making a good first impression, here are ten best website design practices for associations.
Problem 4: More Clicks More Quitters
Does it take more than three clicks to find anything on your website? If so, that’s a problem, because many visitors will quit searching a website if they can’t find what they’re looking for after just a few clicks.
Here’s a quick test you can do to see how easy your website is to use. Find someone who’s never been to your website before and ask them to sign up for a membership. Watch to see if it takes them more than three clicks.
This is called ease of navigation (or site usability), and many websites don’t have it. Poor navigation is a common problem, especially for sites that offer lots of different programs and run multiple events throughout the year. I know of one such site that had navigation so complex that most visitors couldn’t find what they were looking for without seeking help from the webmaster. After a website restructure, it now takes a website visitor a maximum of two clicks to access any page, creating what is called a “shallow site”. This has made it much easier for visitors to find information on that site.
One Way to Ensure a Problem-Free Site
If you’re a small organization without a big budget, you should have at least one person (ideally a committee) responsible for maintaining the website. Technology, website trends, and your organization change on regular basis and your website should reflect this dynamic.
Lamees is the founder and president of Webbright
, a Wild Apricot value-added service provider.