Thursday, January 5, 2012

What does a great Association Website Look Like? Here are 6 key elements.

Over the holidays, I explored more than 25 association websites.

Looking at association sites other than your own is an interesting (and informative) process.

And, somewhat alarming!


  • For some, the most recent “news” on the web was dated 2009. 
  • Others were showcasing last year’s (2010) conference information even though it is long past. 
  • A couple had “really old” association newsletters posted.
  • For some that I’ve followed for several months, I haven’t seen any changes to the website in weeks or months.
  • Make it seemingly impossible for you to find a name, phone number or email address to contact someone at the association
Why would we expect members want to come to such websites?

Please review “Why a Mediocre Website Is So Dangerous for Associations & NonProfits” to see where I’m headed.

When was the last time you looked at your own association website? I mean really dug in and examined what others are finding when searching your website? Checking on the “freshness” of the “news,” newsletters and other elements of your site.

The blog and the search process got me to asking, “What makes a great website?”

Here’s a start:

  1. Fresh content. Updated regularly. Archived (or purged) routinely. 
  2. Easy access (on the front page) to most valued information/content.
  3. Serves as the association’s content hub and includes links to blogs, videos and other tools to provide valued content in multiple platforms.
  4. Offers links to the association’s online community.
  5. Doesn’t bury contacts (phone, email, etc.) to reach the association with questions. 
  6. Makes it easy to join or register. 
So, now its your turn ...
  1. What would you add as “criteria” for a great association website?
  2. In addition to digging into your own site, look at 3-5 other sites.
  3. Please tell me what you like about them, what changes you would recommend, and put links to the best sites into a comment for this blog. Or, if easier, email me at


  1. I've been looking at sites just today to prep for a call with a client about revamping their event site. Three elements I see repeatedly: 1) when the same type of content is scattered under various categories which makes it hard to find and leaves an impression of little content unless you search for it; 2) dense copy that few people would take the time to read, and 3) aesthetically ugly which looks unprofessional. That said, one site fit that description, but did a great job of posting only essential bullet links so you knew from the home page what to expect. Even though we're an agency known for creative, I would choose that approach but upgrade it just enough to enhance its credibility.

  2. Good thoughts.

    Hope your session went well ... did your client agree to the changes you suggested?