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Marketing & Communication for Today and Tomorrow

"Tips for a Successful Website Redesign Project"
By Joe Casey, CAE, Account Manager

Planning to redesign your organization's website can be an exciting, yet anxious time for volunteer leaders, staff and members alike. It can also be time consuming and costly; yet in most cases, well worth the effort. The recent successful launch of the Industrial Supply Association (ISA) website may offer some lessons you'll find useful.

Start by choosing a strong technology partner for your project. Because of Fernley & Fernley's relationship with SVM E-Business Solutions on behalf of other clients, ISA was able to leverage their knowledge of internal operating systems, thereby virtually eliminating any potential surprises that can occur during data integration. Perhaps more significantly, it ensured that the uncertainty and anxiety that often comes from engaging a new technology partner for a large-scale project was not going to be an issue for ISA.

Next, recognize early on that a succinct communication strategy is essential. Understanding the needs that are driving the project; being clear about expectations and defining roles; and committing to consistently reporting progress, (or the obstacles preventing progress), will ensure that all the stakeholders involved are informed and that the project team is being held accountable.

Consider the following:

  • Clarify why change is necessary and how change will occur;
  • Identify champions throughout your organization, both staff and volunteers;
  • Explain the value of the project to members, to the association, to the industry;
  • Invite and encourage feedback before, during, and after;
  • Honestly evaluate the outcome did you achieve your objectives?

The ISA Leadership Team recognized that the website needed a fresh look, but the changes required were more than cosmetic. A diverse group of individuals representing each of ISA's committees and subcommittees formed a Task Force. The Task Force consisted of both seasoned and young professionals with varying degrees of experience in terms of service to the association; however, collectively they represented all of the membership segments of the Industrial Supply Channel.

Working with SVM, we developed a comprehensive survey to find out what areas of the existing website Task Force members used frequently, which they didn't find beneficial, and what their expectations were regarding the site's offerings. The results of this survey were measured against the website usage statistics and clear objectives for the project were established.

Evaluation of the completed project comes in many forms, from the easily answered

  • Did we launch on time and on budget? (Yes to both!); To the easily measured
  • Our website analytics are showing an increase in site traffic though the "newness" of the site may be a contributing factor to monitor as we move forward;

And the not always easily achieved

  • A demo at our most recent board orientation meeting received extremely positive feedback from board members and committee chairs alike.

While there's much to celebrate when a new website finally goes live, we consider this project a work in progress with room to grow.