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What’s In Store for Associations and the Web in 2015?

web_trendsI have the honor of helping a number of association clients plan their web budgets for the next year or two or three. When preparing a web budget, my team and I do research, look at what other organizations are doing, talk to the innovators in the space, and brainstorm with our clients. So what’s in store for associations in 2015?

Next Generation Responsive Website

Associations that don’t already have a responsive website need to get one. And fast. Clients that already have a responsive website should be looking closely at their analytics and interviewing members to find out the information and services they most need when visiting the association’s website on a tablet or smartphone. This data will help you prioritize some content over others, change the order of calls to action on a mobile view, make some items disappear, or bring other content to the forefront. You don’t have to collapse your entire menu and you don’t need to just tile the elements in a straight line.

What’s more, the next generation responsive website doesn’t just resize webages, it serves up different media files based on screen size and bandwidth. For example, on a phone over 4G, a responsive website will display lower resolution images. The same website on a retina screen iPad over broadband will serve up higher resolution images and HD video.

More Apps

Since phones and tablets are selling at a much faster rate then desktop computers, it only makes sense that apps be a part of your mobile strategy. Meeting and convention apps that connect attendees, help them explore content, and feature exhibitors are a no-​​brainer. Apps that introduce your industry to a wider audience are great. Technical apps that replace a desktop program might make sense, unless it devalues a high-​​priced, high value product. Finally, news apps that aggregate content across your websites and social media pages will help keep members abreast of all the news in your space.

Integrated Analytics

Most organizations rely on multiple platforms for their communications. The problem is that each platform has its own set of reports and analytics. Your website may be running Google Analytics. Your CMS has its own internal usage reporting. Your blast email platform reports on views and clicks. Your LMS (learning management system) has yet another set of reports. In 2015, I recommend that organization integrate the reporting across their systems. For example, most trade associations know what people are doing on their websites and their newsletter open/​click rate. But what if they could also know what percentage of primary contacts are logging in to their members’ only site and opening their weekly newsletter? Integrated reporting that ties demographics and activity data will provide valuable, actionable data.

Continued Rise of Video

I know I sound like a broken record, but video needs to be part of every organization’s 2015 strategy. Pages with video encourage more visits, and longer visits. Google increasingly includes YouTube videos in search results. Video can be used to brand an organization, explain what an organization does, showcase success stories, tech people how to use applications, and give members and customers a voice.

Storytelling

Finally, in 2015, associations need to make their case to members, legislators, the media and the public via authentic storytelling. The formal, stilted language of the press releases of yore is not nearly as effective as writing that sounds like you’re having a conversation with someone you know and trust. Unless you’re The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, your content needs to be succinct, fresh and user-​​friendly.

My team and I will be on the lookout for evidence of these trends around the web and certainly amongst our clients and report on them as we learn and adapt to these trends. How about you? What will YOUR focus be in 2015?

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