How can you avoid this again? Start with a basic question: “How can I make my members’ lives simpler?” This fundamental exercise can lead to some innovative ideas, even if at first they seem unrealistic. As writer Paul Ford says in a thoughtful article, websites are a customer service medium. With new technological advances popping up constantly, it’s easy to get bogged down in the latest CMS trend or ux design. But at its most basic level, an association’s website is a service to make members’ lives easier. As content strategist Ginny Redish says, “Think of your website or app as replacing not file cabinets but phones.”

This view is reflected by some key web strategies suggested by  Scott McDonald of UXMagazine.

Don’t chase your competitors, chase your members. Looking at what the competition is doing is wise. But don’t spend too much time making sure you offer what they offer or matching their newest feature. Lead your industry using expertise and innovation.

Newer isn’t better, better is better.  It’s exciting to launch new features, and it can keep your site fresh. But don’t do it because it’s new. Do it because it makes your site better for your members.

Be useful first, then be usable. Usability gets a lot of press, understandably so. But the information is what your members seek, so be excellent in content development, and then make sure your site is usable.

Design communications around people, not technologies. Powerful technologies can make websites easy to use, and brilliant people are developing new technologies every day. But be thoughtful in their adoption. Again, what makes your members’ lives simpler?

How do you know what your members want? .orgSource President Sherry Budziak has an article on designing with your members in mind in the latest issue of FORUM magazine.