A Collective Effort Guides a Successful Website Launch
The Massachusetts Society of CPAs recently launched a new website to provide its members with an improved user experience, navigation, and functionality. The launch’s counterintuitive timing paid off in several ways too.
Although it’s the height of tax season, the Massachusetts Society of CPAs unveiled its new website at the beginning of March during the most hectic time of the year for its members. It was a strategic—and effective—decision.
“Tax season is the best time to launch it because our members use it the least,” said Amy Pitter, MassCPAs president and CEO. The quieter time allowed MassCPA staff to get acclimated to the site and smooth out any issues before members return to the site in full force. Added bonus? The group will offer automatic dues renewals when its dues season kicks off in April, which will make the process easier for members.
MassCPAs’ previous website was more than 10 years old and was built on a custom platform. However, because of accelerated changes in technology over the past decade, the code on the site became outdated, which caused glitches and prevented staff from making quick updates based on member feedback.
The only way to resolve the issue was to rebuild the site. The group’s web developer created a cloud-based platform specifically for state CPA societies and that is where MassCPAs’ site is now hosted. Having other state societies on the platform gives MassCPAs the opportunity to collaborate with them on ongoing ideas and improvements.
And, since it is cloud-based, the code is updated regularly so the site no longer has areas that break unexpectedly. The whole website redesign process took about a year.
Key Updates to the New Site
Intuitive site navigation. MassCPAs’ website is the primary way its members interact with the group, and it frequently gets feedback from them—either informally or through direct emails to staff—about pain points or things they like.
Staff collected the input from members, sought feedback from the board of directors, and used analytics to gauge the most popular pages on the site. They then used that information to guide the reorganization and make it more responsive and easily navigable.
MassCPAs can now create landing pages for its programs and events that are similar. For example, it has a conference landing page that shows the branding for each conference. Some conferences are offered virtually and in person, so members can go to the landing page for the conference and click on the type of format they prefer.
On-demand education. One of the main reasons MassCPAs members visit the site is to register for continuing professional education (CPE) and events. The new website has on-demand programming, which gives members the opportunity to quickly catch up on courses that will help them in their profession—on their own time.
MassCPAs relies on member feedback to update its programming and CPE offerings. The new site allows the group to offer the new services immediately without having to communicate with the web developer because staff can update CPE programming in the CMS.
Curated CPE bundles. The group got member input on what courses would be most helpful for them, and MassCPAs’ learning and development team bundled certain CPE programs together as convenient packages for members to choose from, which saves them time. “It’s a huge benefit for our members,” Pitter said.
Streamlined checkout. The new website boasts streamlined checkout, which improves the member experience and opportunities for nondues revenue. For example, if a member takes a CPE course and they also register for a networking event, those used to be two separate transactions, which was cumbersome and time-consuming. Now users can check out everything in their cart out at the same time and, if they have a discount code, they can use it for one item even if it doesn’t apply to everything else in the cart.
Careful planning, a well-timed launch, and a collaborative process helped MassCPAs create a site that would deliver the best experience for its members. All just in time for tax day on April 18.
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