Websites are wonderful tools for members – most of the time. But they can become expensive road blocks.
Any website beyond a simple web page can become expensive. Sure your brother-in-law can create a website using WordPress and a template. But the minute you add in a “store”, a database, downloadable publications, etc., the costs go up and so do the complications.
As long as board members know going into it that websites are not as easy to create and maintain as some so-called experts make it seem, the organization will survive. But it can be difficult for boards to resist the allure of the over-promising friend-of-a-friend when making decisions regarding a website. And board members should not get involved in the details of appearance or functionality but remain focused on the “big picture” goals of the site.
Websites should be an integral tool within a strategic plan and budgeted for accordingly. With websites, planning is everything and patience is a virtue! A website is not something you can “make up as you go.” It’s a little like remodeling your bathroom. Create your plan within your budget, avoiding flashy add-ons. Like with your bathroom redo, change orders are costly. Budget carefully, stick to your budget and include a cushion in case of overage.
While in the planning stage, determine the true purpose of your association’s website. Is it a tool to attract and retain members? Is it a depository for meeting information? You may already have an existing website but it is more likely to be answering “What are we doing?” rather than “What are we doing for our members?” Focus less on the association’s operational details, and keep the board’s eye on its 5-year strategic plan, reinforcing benefits of membership and services offered. A tight focus saves money by resulting in fewer pages.