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Developing a New Website: Key Questions to Consider

Published on
27 May 2024

When a European association plans to develop a new website, heads of communication need to approach this project strategically. Here’s a comprehensive guide covering the key areas to focus on: objectives and strategy, understanding the target audience, and content and functionality.

Defining Objectives and Strategy

What are the primary goals of the new website?

Firstly, it is crucial to clearly define the website’s objectives. European associations often have diverse missions, and the website should reflect these priorities. Consider the following questions:

– What are our communication goals? 

A website can serve multiple purposes:

– How does this website align with our overall strategy

The site should seamlessly integrate with other communication initiatives and the Association’s strategic goals. For example, an association focused on advocacy might need to prominently feature its policy positions and legislative contributions.

– What are the success metrics? 

Setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as visitor numbers, conversion rates (new member sign-ups), or user engagement levels can help measure the website’s effectiveness. For instance, a 20% increase in event registrations could be a success indicator for an event-centric association.

At #inextremis, we have the expertise to guide you through defining and aligning these objectives with your broader strategic goals. Our team can help you set clear KPIs and ensure your website is designed to achieve them.

Understanding the Target Audience

Who is our target audience?

Knowing the target audience is essential for designing an effective website. European associations typically need to engage a diverse audience, including:

– Current Members: 

What are their needs and expectations? Do they prefer easy access to specific resources, updates on the Association’s initiatives, or networking opportunities? For example, a personalised portal where members can track their interactions and contributions would be valuable.

– Potential New Members: 

What information do they seek before joining the Association? Are they drawn to testimonials from current members, case studies of successful projects, or details on membership benefits? Highlighting these elements can encourage sign-ups.

– Partners and Donors: 

What information do they need? They might look for activity reports, impact testimonials, or partnership opportunities. Detailed sections on ongoing projects and past achievements can foster transparency and trust.

– European Regulators: 

What are the key regulatory issues? How does the Association contribute to regulatory compliance? Clearly presenting the Association’s regulatory contributions and positions on current legislation can be very effective.

– Civil Society and Policymakers: 

What information is crucial for these groups? How does the Association influence public policy? Showcasing detailed case studies and impact stories can demonstrate the Association’s commitment and effectiveness.

How do we meet the specific needs of each audience segment?

Segmenting content and functionality is critical to address varied expectations. For instance:

– For Current Members: 

A dedicated member section with exclusive resources, event calendars, and discussion forums can be beneficial. Secure access to internal documents and collaborative spaces adds value.

– For Potential Members: 

An engaging homepage with clear calls-to-action, membership benefits, and testimonials can attract new members. Interactive testimonials and presentations can also be very effective.

– For Partners and Donors: 

Detailed sections on ongoing projects, achieved results, and partnership opportunities can encourage involvement. Downloadable annual reports and impact studies enhance credibility.

– For Regulators: 

A clear presentation of regulatory contributions, positions on legislation, and compliance reports can meet their needs. Quick access to press releases and documentation is essential.

– For Civil Society and Policymakers: 

Detailed project impact information, case studies, and beneficiary testimonials can highlight the Association’s effectiveness. A dedicated “Case Studies and Impact” page with infographics and videos can be engaging.

Our agency, #inextremis, excels in understanding and segmenting audiences. We can help tailor your website content and functionality to meet the distinct needs of each segment, ensuring maximum engagement and satisfaction.

Crafting Content and Functionality

What type of content should be included?

To create an effective website, determine the content needed. This content should be varied and relevant to a European association’s diverse audience. Key content elements include:

– Event Information: 

Calendars, event descriptions, online registrations, and post-event reports enhance accessibility. An interactive calendar with filter options for different event types is especially helpful.

– Member Resources: 

Guides, white papers, case studies, and practical tools. Offering organised downloads and resource libraries is very useful.

– News and Blog: 

Articles on the latest association news, policy analyses, and expert contributions. A dynamic blog section with regular posts and in-depth analyses can attract repeat visits.

– Discussion Forums: 

Spaces for members to discuss and exchange ideas on relevant topics. Moderated forums ensure constructive and secure discussions.

– Testimonials and Case Studies: 

Success stories highlighting the positive impacts of the Association’s initiatives. Video testimonials and interactive case studies can be highly engaging.

What essential functionalities should the website have?

A website’s functionalities should cater to its users’ needs and expectations. Critical functionalities for a European association might include:

– Secure Member Area:

Allowing members to access exclusive resources, manage their memberships, and participate in private discussions. Features like profile management and private forums enhance user experience.

– Online Payments:

 Facilitating payments for memberships, donations, and event registrations. A secure and diverse payment system (credit cards, PayPal, etc.) is crucial.

– Event Registration: 

Easy-to-use systems for online and offline event registrations. Integration with personal calendars and email notifications improves user experience.

 Newsletter Subscription: 

Enabling users to subscribe to newsletters for the latest updates and news. Customising newsletter preferences can boost engagement.

– Social Media Integration: 

Share accessible content on social platforms to increase visibility and engagement. Social media widgets and integrated share buttons are helpful.

– Advanced Search: 

A robust search feature lets users quickly find the information they need, and advanced filters can significantly improve usability.

At #inextremis, we specialise in developing visually appealing and functional websites. Our team ensures that your website includes all the essential features to meet your audience’s varied needs.

By focusing on these strategic elements, heads of communication can ensure that the new website meets the needs of its diverse audience and supports the Association’s broader goals. With clear objectives, a deep understanding of the target audience, and well-crafted content and functionalities, the website can become a powerful tool for engagement and growth. And with #inextremis by your side, you can be confident that your website will be expertly designed and executed to achieve these goals.