Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What does a Great Association Website Look Like (rewind)

This original piece was first posted January 5, 2012. 

If you want to review your website, I urge you to reread the original post plus include this story as part of your research. Top 10 Mistakes of Association Web Sites—and How to Fix Them.


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.
  • Succeed in making it seemingly impossible to find a name, phone number or email address to contact someone at the association. (Why are you hiding from your members?)
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. Steve,

    If you think what you found was bad, you should look at some of the websites of the Main Street programs around the country. Over the last year I conducted an independent study in which I searched to find the website of all the 1200+ Main Street programs. I said search as many searches only found a Facebook page or a Google map location.

    Of course the first explanation, (there is always a reason why) was they are understaffed. There were a few that report the volunteer that has the passwords to the account is gone (read this as someone that had a reason to have left the group unhappily).

    Some have sites that want to detail the purpose of the organization and the four cornerstones of the Main Street program; I see that as trying to be something to everybody instead of determining their primary focus. Perhaps an association needs multiple websites.

    The multipurpose website may eventually get around to inviting people to come to the Main Street district. And as you noted, many use that stupid fill in the blank form for communication; just give me an email, phone number and street address.

    One association had their domain hijacked and turned into a porn sight. Instead of getting control of it, they abandoned the name and took another. Of course, a Google search for the organization still brings up the porn sight first.

    And then there are those that have a page on the city website. Who is going to follow a 50-60 character web address to find a single page that is not updated? The sad part is that many are funded by their government and that represents your dollars not at work. Government and business frequently do not belong in the same sentence much like Michigan and graduate.

    Thought you would appreciate that college referral.

  2. Thanks Tom. Appreciate what you have seen in websites.