From the moment someone lands on your homepage, they should feel compelled to explore your website and learn all there is to know about your association. Whether this is their first interaction with your association or they’re a long-time member, your website should make it easy for them to accomplish whatever task they need to carry out.
While every association finds success in different design strategies, there are a few common elements that you should consider when creating your site. With the help of a content management system (CMS) designed specifically for associations, implement these best practices to create an engaging association website:
Ready to transform your association’s website into an engaging and captivating one? Let’s get started.
Nowadays, mobile users make up the majority of website traffic. In fact, roughly half of all nonprofit website traffic comes from mobile and tablet users, according to recent online giving data. With that in mind, it’s more important than ever that your association prioritizes mobile optimization in its website design.
Whether someone is casually browsing your association’s website or looking to become a member, your CMS should ensure each page is easy to use and read on every screen size. By ensuring your website is built for mobile use, you can avoid negative user experiences, such as:
To increase your association’s visibility online, your website needs to be fully functional on all devices. To streamline this process, ensure your CMS offers automatic mobile optimization and responsiveness. This reduces the amount of manual work necessary because you won’t need to develop multiple versions of your website for smartphones and tablets. When you optimize for mobile devices, you’ll create a positive user experience on your association’s website!
To increase usability and enhance the mobile experience, take a look at more of our tips for designing a mobile-friendly website.
The American Friends of Covent Garden created an engaging association website that captivates users from the moment they land on the homepage. By featuring a mobile responsive design across all pages, the website conveys the most important information effectively and concisely using minimal text and impactful imagery. This improves the user experience by ensuring the information is accessible to all users, no matter what device they’re using. Check out this mobile responsive design:
From the user’s perspective, one of the most frustrating elements of a website is slow load speed. With poor load speed, you risk a much higher bounce rate (the percentage of people leaving your website after visiting only one page), because no one’s willing to stick around for your content to load. Additionally, research has shown that pages with longer load times tend to negatively impact conversions.
Not only is speed important for a positive user experience, but Google has also indicated that site speed (and as a result, page speed) is one of the signals used by its algorithm for ranking pages. In other words, in order to boost visibility and drive value for your association, you need to prioritize a fast load time. To accomplish this, consider these best practices:
Ensure your CMS offers automatic page speed tools to reduce the amount of manual labor your team needs to do. To gain insight into how to improve your speed, explore Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tools. All you need to do to analyze your page speed is enter the page’s URL. Then, implement its suggestions to improve your load time for both mobile and desktop users.
Below, you’ll see an example of Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool in action. After analyzing GasPedal’s web page Community.org, the tool assigned it a rating based on several elements, seen at the bottom of the screenshot. GasPedal did a great job of reducing load time by minimizing the number of elements on this page while still providing value to the reader.
As an association, you want to make sure all visitors are able to use your site effectively and easily. This means complying with web accessibility standards so that people with disabilities or impairments can still interact with your website.
While most web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) require the help of a professional developer, there are still many steps you can take on your own, so long as you’re armed with a non-technical CMS. Start by implementing the following best practices:
These are a handful of the ways you can make your website more accessible by all types of users. Continue exploring accessible association website designs with our guide to nonprofit web accessibility.
On its website, Community Foundation of Sarasota County offers a tool that enables users to adjust their webpage to suit their needs. Take a look at the top right corner of the image below, and you’ll see the user has the option to increase font size, decrease font size, change the colors to greyscale as well as a handful of other choices. This way, users can instantly adjust the page so it’s easier to view without hassle.
Once you’ve designed your website and pushed it live, your work doesn’t stop there. To keep your website running as smoothly as possible, you need to frequently check for errors and consistently update your website, so make sure your team is prepared to do so.
When cleaning up your site, you should be on the lookout for:
Promptly remove or redirect any page errors to avoid confusion. These pages will inevitably pop up, so you’ll want to make sure you have a well-designed error page that appears in the meantime. By performing regular maintenance on your site, you’ll ensure users have quick access to everything they need and won’t get frustrated by landing on nonexistent or outdated pages.
The Marketing Alliance did a great job of designing their 404 error page. Instead of showing a generic page that offers no value to users, their team offers a handful of solutions to help the visitor find the page they meant to navigate to, including useful links. Plus, it’s branded to their organization with their color scheme and logo, which generates even more value for the reader. Take a look at their well-designed 404 error page:
While you may think white space seems like a “waste of space,” it’s actually an important element of effective web design. Instead of cluttering up your page, white space helps to:
As users surf the web, they tend to have shorter attention spans, which makes using white space especially important. It allows you to limit distractions and focus on getting important information across.
While white space does have its benefits, keep in mind that you need to strike the perfect balance between your white space and content. White space does still take up space, after all. Consider what you’d like to appear above the fold (the part of a webpage that’s visible without scrolling), and adjust the rest of your content from there.
Morweb offers customizable templates that feature an effective balance between white space and content. Use these to quicken the design process and ensure you’re using white space effectively.
Poultry Science Association features a minimalist design across their website. With strategic use of white space, their most important information catches the user’s eye and ensures the reader doesn’t get distracted by other content. Take a look at Poultry Science Association’s well-balanced homepage:
Humans are motivated by compelling visuals. In fact, research shows that posts that feature images produce 650% higher engagement than text-only posts. Because of this, imagery is an important element of association websites.
Powerful visuals bring prospects to your website and keep them engaged as they navigate through each page. They enable you to better illustrate what your association does and to build emotional connections with potential members. Keep in mind these best practices, so you can incorporate visuals in a way that drives value for your association:
With a CMS that offers multimedia capabilities, you can captivate your association website’s visitors from the moment they land on your website. Be selective when choosing imagery in order to keep visitors engaged.
The SEEP Network features powerful imagery to captivate readers. Their original images and videos convey their mission in a way that evokes emotion and encourages users to continue exploring the website to learn more. Take a look at the valuable images and video The SEEP Network uses to encourages users to engage:
Your website is an excellent place to build brand recognition for your association. Effective branding presents a number of benefits for association websites, such as providing a cohesive user experience. When your brand is consistent throughout your site, members and other visitors will come to associate your name, logo, and other branding elements with the good work you do.
Not online does consistent branding improve the user experience, but it is also essential to make your site appear trustworthy. The presence of branding across your website—your donation and membership pages in particular—assures supporters that they are interacting with the right association. This way, they’ll know that their contributions are going to your association.
Incorporate these branding elements to create a more customized and immersive website:
Branding is a vital component of engaging association web design. Make sure you’re accurately representing your association by incorporating the above elements on your association’s website.
The International Association of Fairs & Expositions features consistent branding across their website. Their logo and color scheme are visible across each page, and the entire website features a consistent layout. This reassures users that they haven’t somehow been redirected off of the association’s website. For branding inspiration, check out this organization’s site:
By implementing the above suggestions, you’re likely to see a boost in traffic to your website. However, what’s even more important is your conversions, whether that’s membership registrations, event sign-ups, donations or any other measurable actions on your website. To keep your supporters converting month after month, they need to feel as though they’re receiving recurring value. In order to accomplish this, all content on your association’s website needs to serve a purpose and encourage visitors to become and remain involved.
Here are a few areas where you should prioritize conversions:
Your website shouldn’t serve as a dumping ground for text. Design your pages and forms with a conversion-focused mindset with inspiring content, visible buttons, and powerful CTAs. By doing this, you’ll drive more traffic to your high-value pages and boost conversions.
The National Association of Biology Teachers created a website that encourages visitors to continue interacting. The moment a user lands on the homepage, the eye-catching CTAs let them know their available options, which encourages them to further engage with the website. Plus, the ‘Login’ and ‘Donate’ buttons are featured in the navigation, so they’re visible across every page on the website. Take a look at how the National Association of Biology Teachers drives user engagement:
An association’s website is its single most important digital channel to maintain. The design process doesn’t have to be a complicated process so long as you implement the above best practices. By designing your association’s website with the user experience in mind, you’ll be able to drive more traffic to your site and ramp up support.
If you’re looking for additional information on association website design best practices, explore the resources below:
To help you effectively implement the tips covered in this post, select a CMS that simplifies the design process and meets your association’s needs. With Morweb, designing a beautiful association website is possible for everyone. We know exactly what it takes for associations like yours to be successful online, so reach out to our team to get started.