Maintenance is also vital for ensuring that your association’s website remains functional, relevant, accurate and user-friendly. Without regular maintenance, broken links and images can accumulate, information becomes out of date and elements such as “contact us” forms stop operating properly. Even more seriously, your navigation system can all into shambles.
Website maintenance is one of the top-five outsourced IT functions in associations, according to “Benchmarking in Association Management: Technology Policies and Procedures” by the Center for Association Leadership. It found that 50 percent of associations are outsourcing website maintenance.When these problems are encountered by members, they are frustrating at best. If you are fortunate, a member will write your staff pointing out the issue and asking for help or for it to be corrected. But the member might just give up on the task she was trying to complete on your site, or abandon a search for the information she was trying to find. When it comes time to renew her membership, or attend one of your events, she’ll likely remember that sense of frustration.
Whether your association decides to do the same, there are tasks that your in-house staff must take responsibility for:
- Whenever anything is changed, added or updated on your association’s website, it must be tested. Those tests should be performed on several different browsers, on desktops, laptops and mobile devices, too.
- Set a regular schedule for checking the forms on your website. Have a staff member fill out the forms and then assess whether instructions are accurate and whether the completed information reaches the right person.
- There are tools available to help you locate broken links on your website. Google’s Webmaster Tools is one option, Broken Link Checker is another, although its free version has page limits.
- Make sure that all employees at your association know that if they spot an error on the website, they should speak up. This could be a spelling or punctuation error that makes the association look sloppy, a page that doesn’t appear to have the correct content or formatting, or an image or URL that doesn’t link properly.
Finally, this time of year is when many of us still catch ourselves writing “2013” on checks and in documents. So devote some time to reviewing your website for places where the year needs to be updated to 2014, including legal language such as copyright statements and in footers.
We’ll admit it: Maintenance is boring. But it’s better to be proactive than struggle through a rainstorm with useless windshield wipers or a cold spell with a broken furnace or in the case of your website, to drive away valuable members.
Does your association need help creating or maintaining a maintenance schedule for your website? We’d love to provide some guidance. Give us a call at 847-275-1840 or email us at email@example.com.