Technology

Tech Memo: Under Construction

By / Apr 1, 2016 (Getty RF)

Six steps to a complete website overhaul, according to the American Chiropractic Association.

With an out-of-date website that had largely become a dumping ground for any and all content, the American Chiropractic Association decided it was time for an upgrade. But not just any upgrade—one that was based on a clearly delineated strategy that could carry acatoday.org well into the future.

Working with IT consulting firm designDATA, ACA embarked on a six-step process to take its website from stale to timely. Diane McMahon, CAE, senior consultant at designDATA, explained the process at the 2015 ASAE Technology Conference & Expo.

Step 1: Do a deep dive. To determine its audience and what ACA wanted from its website, the organization turned to Google Analytics, and the data told an interesting story. The most visited page, for example, was an explainer on chiropractic, suggesting the site was more of an authoritative resource than a membership tool as ACA staff previously thought.

Step 2: Study website trends and best practices. ACA analyzed the look, feel, and functionality of other websites both in and outside its space and, based on the research, decided to make its new site responsive and incorporate a scrolling design.

Step 3: Understand member needs. While surveys, focus groups, and usability tests can generate great data, they are expensive and time-consuming, McMahon says. Instead, ACA developed personas, or representations of typical website users. This method is particularly conducive to associations because of the large troves of data they collect on members. To develop personas, ask questions such as: Who is this person? What is their age? What is their capability with technology?

Step 4: Framestorm. Just as it sounds, this is a process of framing a problem to brainstorm a solution. Throw sticky notes on a wall, encourage all staff members to bring their ideas to the table—basically break the problem down to build it back up, McMahon says. Because this process focuses on one problem at a time, it mitigates any fears about how overwhelming the project may be.

Step 5: Develop a content strategy. Once you’ve laid the foundational groundwork, it’s time to decide what content stays and what goes. After discovering only 10 percent of its 5,000 web pages were getting significant page views, for example, ACA took a quality-over-quantity approach and focused on the top 500 pages for go-live.

Step 6: Establish workflow processes. “It is easy to be excited about a new website, but it takes discipline to keep the vision alive and consistent as time marches forward,” McMahon says. She recommends making website roles clear to staff and using the workflow management tools available in most content management systems.

Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. More »

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