by Tobin Conley And Jason Stone | October 01, 2017

Your association finally has the time, budget and organizational commitment to rebuild your website. This is a big investment, and certainly something you want to handle correctly. While every association's needs might differ, the following are five key steps to help guide you in selecting the right web-design firm.


1. CLARIFY OBJECTIVES
Understanding your association's business needs, as well as the expectations of each staff member and department, is a good starting point. It is not uncommon for membership to want one thing and finance something else regarding your online presence. If this is the case, facilitate discussions about what the website is expected to accomplish.

If you are still unsure of what exactly is needed, break your requirements into three categories: mandatory (things you need), preferred (things you would like to have) and optional (things that would be great to have but you can live without).


2. KNOW YOUR MEMBERS
Having a good experience on your website helps increase member satisfaction. Determine how your members are currently using the site, as well as what they would like to be able to do there. Are they looking for general information, government advocacy efforts or fundraising opportunities? Do they want to be able to register for events online? Can they establish or renew membership online?


3. FIND TOP CONTENDERS
Select a pool of potential website vendors to bid on your business. Leverage your personal network, as well as community sites within your field, to find web designers with relevant experience. The last thing you want is to waste hours of your time (and theirs) meeting with unqualified vendors.  


4. COMMUNICATE AND REVIEW CASE STUDIES
An introductory phone call allows both parties to understand one another. You want to be certain that possible vendors understand your project goals and that they have developed solutions that have helped other associations reach these same goals.


5. WEIGH ALL OPTIONS
After closely reviewing all the web-design firms on your radar, it is time to choose the best one to fulfill your vision. Note which firm does its homework, looks after its clients and is able to keep trust throughout the process. Never choose a firm just because it is the cheapest option. Your website is a vital piece of your business and not something you can afford to cut corners on, so make sure you weigh the options and call references.


6. CONSIDER THE FUTURE
Ultimately, you should select a vendor that will not only pay attention to you during the courtship phase, but after you've become partners. It is important to have a contact who will be immediately accessible to troubleshoot -- because issues inevitably will arise. Creating the site you want is the first step; keeping it running smoothly is an ongoing process.



Tobin Conley is senior consultant, technology management, for DelCor Technology Solutions.




 

 

Jason Stone is senior vice president, digital strategy, for Engage Software.