Member and staff input, as well as input from non-member key stakeholder groups, is necessary to redesign websites to meet web and organization goals.
I've spearheaded website redesigns for several associations since the early 2000s, managing cross-functional teams, and there's one thing I know to be certain: you need great user research and analytics, along with clearly-articulated business goals, driving your website redesigns. My superpowers include doing both, but let's focus on the user research side here.
I start with a member journey map. Creating one can be a collaborative exercise with your marketing and membership teams. Use a free digital whiteboard tool like Google's Jamboard or Miro and set up the journey steps and needed content, and brainstorm for 60 minutes. You'll get a great overview of your member's journey.
However, you also should get your members' viewpoints to fill in any gaps and truly understand their actions and emotions. To do this, I always conduct think-aloud interviews with 5-10 members, using very specific questions crafted to dive into user needs and association business needs, in order to get highly relevant and actionable input. The think-aloud interviews are one component of a multi-prong plan to get a 360-degree view of the website usability:
1. Staff interviews and survey
2. Board member interviews
3. Member interviews
4. Member journey mapping
5. Think-aloud usability interviews
6. Google Analytics data
7. Heat map data
8. Usability survey pop-ups on key website pages
9. Card sort exercise with a draft information architecture (members and staff)
The recordings of the think-aloud interviews also help convince staff that changes to the information architecture, content, layout, and flow are needed. See it in action - here's a sample think-aloud video.
A cross-functional association staff team was having difficulty building consensus around a website redesign proposal for a new information architecture (navigation system). Competing priorities for putting "my content first" were being raised, derailing discussions.
I proposed a think-aloud exercise to crystallize their thoughts around specific member pain points and to develop an actionable plan and consensus to move forward. This think-aloud exercise would be used along with Google Analytics and heat map data along with surveys and other data to guide the creation of a new information architecture and new page layouts along with updated content.
After showing short snippets from three of the ten think-aloud exercise videos as well as other data I had compiled and summarized, I had the web team weigh in on my proposed new information architecture and gained 100% buy-in for moving forward. The resulting information architecture was then tested in a card sort exercise with members and gained further validation.
I then created a before-and-after customer journey map for two key sections of the website - membership and accreditation. I rewrote 35 pages of content based on my proposed new journey in partnership with members of the membership team. The new information architecture and content, including a new infographic, remove doubt and confusion about every major aspect of membership and accreditation.
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Have an immediate need or longer-term project in marketing, communications, or membership? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.