We’ve been told since the dawn of time that first impressions are important, and it isn’t any different for websites. When someone visits your society or association website, they should be getting a snapshot of who you are as an organization. What’s the mission of the association? Why do people purchase memberships? What are the member benefits?

Developing an effective web presence isn’t easy, though. Designing, maintaining and creating content for an association website can take a lot of time and resources. In addition, it takes a deep understanding of the target audience to deliver an impactful impression that keeps users coming back to the site.

Here are five tactics your organization can implement to improve your association website and create that meaningful snapshot.

1. Keep it simple234092

Simplicity is one of the most important things to keep in mind when assessing your website. It only takes 0.05 seconds to form an opinion about a website and 94% of those first impressions are about site design. Although it seems like a no-brainer, if someone can’t navigate through your association website with ease, they are guaranteed to leave. Research shows that users want websites that are easy to use, but not visually complex. By creating an association website that is simple and clutter free, you are allowing the user’s brain to process the information on your site without much effort. Research also shows that websites that are poorly designed are often associated with being “untrustworthy.”

2. Utilize calls to actionI 1

You may not realize it, but even as a non-profit association it is your job to persuade your audience – persuade them to become a paid member, make donations, embrace your mission, and stay involved. In order to see results, you have to motivate your audience. Even people who are interested in your association may need a little push at times. This can be as easy as utilizing call-to-action buttons and graphics as well as copy that is action-oriented. These call-to-action tactics are known to improve conversion rates and get your audience to complete the desired action. When you use action-oriented language, you create a sense of urgency for the user, which in turn makes them likely to act upon that feeling. Keep in mind that the text on the buttons should be short and to the point. It is important to also consider the location and color of your call-to-action button or graphic. You want to make sure that your button has enough contrast from the rest of the page so it will grab a visitor’s attention. The button should be placed where it is easily visible while also fitting in with the rest of the content on the page.

Here are a few examples:

CTAB2
United Way’s calls-to-action for donations are simple, but give their user multiple ways to get involved.
KU Endowment
KU Endowment has a static “Make A Gift” button in their website header, making it visible on every page.

3. Graphics433394

Whoever said a picture is worth 1,000 words was absolutely right! Research shows that when adding a visual element to a piece of information, the likelihood of remembering that information increases by 500% compared to the piece of information alone. This study also shows that information can be processed faster if it is presented in the form of an image or graphic. It takes about 0.15 seconds to process information from an image; text takes twice as long. The average human’s attention span is about eight seconds; by adding visual elements to your site, you allow the user’s brain to stay engaged after those few short seconds, which increases the amount of time they are on your website. When using web graphics it’s best to be strategic with your design and placement, rather than inserting graphics all over the place. Keep your web graphics simple, yet visually engaging. Think of graphics and images like cayenne pepper – a sprinkle is great, but too much is overwhelming.

4. Mobile friendlyphone

It’s no surprise that in today’s digital age, mobile devices make up about 2 of every 3 minutes spent online. The biggest mistake you can make with your website is thinking that mobile adaptability isn’t important. Studies have shown that 60% of people, who have had problems with a website on their mobile device, left the page. As an association, it’s your job to create a great experience for your audience from beginning to end. A mobile-friendly website benefits the user greatly. In fact, 62% of companies with websites designed for mobile-use increased their sales.

5. Social media linksI 2

This may seem like a no-brainer, but in order to connect and engage with your audience, they need to know how to find you on social media sites. Your association’s social media links should stand out on your website, just like your call-to-action buttons. A lot of organizations place their social media links in the website header, footer, or on the side of the web page. It’s also suggested that these icons should stay with the visitor as they navigate through your site so that accessing your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn page is always just a click away.

Takeaways

Design matters and significantly influences how people perceive your association and your brand. It can be the determining factor in successfully making a sale, gaining a new member or getting a donation.

Even your most engaged audience members may need a little motivation to act; don’t be afraid to tell them what to do through a call-to-action!

Pictures really are worth 1,000 words. Graphics are proven to be easier to understand, quicker to process and help keep our brains engaged.

As technology continues to improve, so does your website. Mobile-friendly websites are not an option, they are a necessity.

Make sure your social media links are visible and easy to find, so your audience can connect with the association through social channels. Keeping your audience engaged with your association through social media is an important marketing tactic, but we’ll save those recommendations for another blog post.

Looking to improve your association website and design? Perhaps just some fresh strategies to engage your online audience? Contact us today for a free website consultation.

About the Author:
Brittanie Smith is finishing her degrees in Journalism and Creative Writing at the University of Kansas. She currently works at Allen Press as a Marketing Intern creating copy for our social media channels and marketing campaigns. In her free time, she likes to experiment with new Pinterest recipes and lounge in her hammock.
*Icons made by Freepik and Vectors Market from www.flaticon.com