“We should redesign our website.” Everyone involved with a website has probably said that more than once.
It’s a common feeling. We become so familiar with our website then we fall out of love with the design long before our users do. As the hub of your marketing to new prospects and a central gathering point for existing members, it serves a variety of purposes and is seen as your digital front door. But, it’s true that just like your clubhouse and other facilities, it requires regular upkeep and maintenance and will need your attention. Before blowing up your current site, remember that every part of your website, both public and private, had some thought and reasoning behind it. Those reasons might still be valid. Or maybe not.
Here are 7 things to consider whether you need to redesign your club's website.
1. Does it serve members’ needs? Is it engaging prospects?
First and foremost, are your different users finding what they are looking for? For example, if your goal is to drive more events to your recently renovated clubhouse, can visitors find that on your public site? Are you updating the site with new content? Look at statistics for the site and review your pages personally. The time it takes you to consume the content should correspond roughly with the results shown by your engaged visitors. If they leave your site immediately after scanning one page, they’re likely not finding what they wanted or expected. (Note: this is a bad sign to search engines like Google and could impact your club appearing in search results). Consider your audience, what they want, and how they want to be communicated with. Does your site deliver?
2. Does it accurately reflect your brand?
As the communications hub and digital front door to the digital world, your website in many ways is your brand. Does it make the first impression that you’d want to make in person? Consider more than just the visual representations of your brand like colors, logos and typography, but the language and communicative style. They are just as much a part of your brand and need to be aligned to where you are currently.
3. Does it incorporate current user expectations?
Your different visitors expect to accomplish more and more on your site when they arrive – and they are irritated when they cant’. They’re nearly as upset when they are redirected to another site to complete their goal. Can your members find pictures and information about upcoming events? Can they watch videos, get updates and everything else they want in one place? Can prospects see all of the latest improvements you’ve made and easily contact the appropriate staff member? If not, design paths to remove the friction to get there, and if possible, bring the desired task inside your site.
4. Do search engines like it?
If your site doesn’t play well with search engines like Google and Bing, you’re wasting a lot of energy. The ability to be found by prospects should be near the top of your goals for your public website. While the factors that impact rankings are continuously changing, ensuring these three things at a minimum will help keep your site in good standing: site loading speed, information accuracy (see 1 above), and mobile-friendliness (more on this later). Generally speaking, what’s good for the website user is good for search engines.
5. Can your team work with it?
As mentioned above, new and fresh content give both members and prospects reasons to visit your site again. That won’t happen if your site is so difficult to work with that only the sole web-ninja on your team that can update the system. And you shouldn’t have to work with anyone that calls themselves a web ninja. Similarly, if it doesn’t integrate with the other critical parts and functions of your business, payments and member experience tools, for example, you’re website is effectively a point solution. That’s not a hub, and it’s not part of the integrated platform you need to succeed.
6. Does it tell you what you need to know?
While many still think of websites as simply a way to deliver information, there’s absolutely no reason this shouldn’t be a two-way transaction. Whether they’re members or prospects, your website is probably the single best way to get insight into your audiences likes, dislikes, what they say they want and what they actually do. Make sure that you are getting the information out of your site that you need to go forward.
7. How is the mobile experience?
This almost didn’t make the list because it should be evident. But just in case you haven’t been paying attention to your analytics or the world at large, EVERYTHING IS GOING MOBILE. Not all the time. And not for everything. But when people want it on their mobile device, you had better be able to deliver. That means both through your mobile website and your mobile app. While your mobile website might get more traffic, studies show the mobile app users are up to 16 times more engaged.
Should You Stay or Should You Go?
You are going to have to take action on your public or member-focused website for one of the seven reasons at some point. It is going to be an investment in resources, both time and money. Putting some thought into the points above will help reveal when you really do need from a redesign and to make the most of the results when you do. Whatever you do, know that you don't have to settle for a cookie-cutter site just because you are in the club industry. Check out these examples across a range of club types.
Where Does Your Club Stand?
Have you ever wondered how your club compares to other clubs in their efforts to increase member engagement and prepare for the future? That’s exactly what the Private Club Maturity Model will help you assess. Free to download, it enables you to benchmark your current state and build a roadmap forward.
Conversations with Club Leaders
Hear what the next generation of club leaders have to say in their own words about tackling three of the biggest challenges clubs face today.