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10 Tips For Clear Content On Your Association's Web Site
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Does your association's mission include educating the public or your members? Your web site leads the charge! Here's how to win your visitors' loyalty.
1. Know what your visitors are looking for. Which pages do they visit most frequently? If they call for information, what questions do they ask most often?
2. Know who is looking for what. For example, are non-members looking for a referral to one of your expert members, while members are looking for ways increase their expertise? Identify visitor types.
3. Organize information into "threads" for your most common visitor types, and make it easy for them to find what they need. For example, links on your home page might ask, "Looking for an expert?" and "Looking for classes?" The visitor chooses a thread to follow by clicking the link.
4. Help the visitor decide this is the right page by starting every page with a description of the goal the page helps the visitor reach. Examples: "When you're looking for an expert to help you..." "Do you want to join our profession?" Without this assurance, the visitor is likely to click away and keep looking.
5. Tell your visitor what to do to achieve the goal. "Read about our experts, then click for a referral." "To sign up for one of our convenient teleclasses, click the date..."
6. Make it easy to achieve a goal. The fewer clicks it takes, the more loyalty you'll build. If your procedures are murky or convoluted, get a business analyst to help straighten them out.
7. Keep paragraphs short, two or three sentences at most. Make your point in the first sentence. If you don't, the skimming reader will skim right past!
8. Make your web site part of your strategic plan to advance your association's mission this year. Review how your site measures up to the competition as well as your own educational goals. Know the value it offers your membership and fund development accordingly.
9. Populate your web site committee with members who can create content on schedule, or make one person the "shepherd" responsible for pulling everything together. Don't let your mission become mired down or your costs inflated by well intentioned but unreliable volunteers. If you don't have an expert content shepherd in your association, consider hiring one.
10. Know the personality or "brand voice" you want your site to convey. Don't let multiple writers make your site seem schizophrenic. If you don't know how to convey your association's personality and values in a consistent brand voice, hire an expert.
Keep in mind that whatever skills you need to complement your team--from business analysis to brand voice--can be provided by a good content shepherd. Whether your association's mission is to educate, inform, promote, or persuade, you can keep your visitors reading with clear, crisp content that conveys your values.
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