This post is by Ray van Hilst, director of client strategy and marketing at Vanguard Technology, a provider of online technology for associations and association-management companies. Connect with him @rvanhilst or rvanhilst(at)vtcus.com.
Your association website is often the most interaction members will have with your organization. So when a redesign budget is approved, many start dreaming of fresh designs, social media integration and member value. But on the way to website nirvana, some projects go way off course.
A few project-management best practices to keep your website redesign on track:
- Consider all of the technology you have (or want). An association website includes more than graphic design and the content-management system. Today’s association websites include databases, online learning, social networking, job boards and more. The key to successful project management is to identify requirements early and plan your project in phased, manageable segments.
- Start on content early. Content makes you unique on the information-rich Web, so don’t just copy all of your pages to the redesigned website — launch the site with content as fresh and relevant as the design. Start with a detailed audit to document all content, and note what you will migrate and what you will leave behind. Then rewrite your content immediately. Remember to write for today’s Web user and follow Steve Krug’s rule to “get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what’s left.” Write for the modern Web user, and break it up with shorter paragraphs, bullets and white space.
- Build a realistic timeline. A website can be built and launched quickly, but if you need to involve many stakeholders, it’s going to take longer than you think. Establish a reasonable timeline, ensuring that not only do your development and content teams have enough time to do their work but also that you get the appropriate buy-in and manage the change. A key consideration in your timeline are annual, all-consuming activities, such as annual conferences, that take up most of your staff resources and detract from the redesign project.
A lot of effort goes into building and launching a redesigned association website, but by planning ahead and considering technical requirements, content needs and project-timeline pitfalls, you can make sure you have everything lined up to ensure a successful launch of your association’s well-written, beautifully redesigned website.
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