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Sharing the journey: new websites for charities and associations

The single most common request from our charities and membership associations, after leaflets and posters, is for help with their websites.  In every case, regardless of complexity, the value proposition clients are seeking is a contemporary front end, acting as a shop window to attract new members and stakeholders, with a Members Area that is in itself a genuine benefit of membership.

Our associations benefit substantially both from our knowledge of their specific association and the more general demands associations inherently place upon their websites.

This critical understanding means that we fundamentally recognise that the structure of the website is integral to its SEO.  Regardless of how straightforward a project might be; typically, a website refresh, with a new look and feel, and improved functionality and responsiveness; the association management element; the understanding of members’ requirements, and how that association needs to function; is built in to its core and is not merely an aesthetic consideration.

Projects range from the simple, to the gargantuan.

One recent project in particular has needed a complex website that has integrated the content from its previous site and four mini-sites, as well as creating a new enhanced and personalised members area. It has required a high level of functionality to allow members to update their own profiles to integrate with the main website; e-commerce ability for the purchase of webinars; an invoicing feature, which is important for membership organisations; a booking facility for their annual conference; and an intuitive search facility for members of the public to find relevant members quickly and easily.

The website build also coincided with the creation of a new brand identity for the association and we have led the design project for new logo, brand guidelines and the updating of association marketing materials and information leaflets. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating but the signs are good: we’ve delivered the new website on time, to their specifications and exceeded their expectations in the process.

It may surprise some to learn how long a website project can take. While a build can be completed properly often within ten weeks, the website is always so much more than the build. Choosing the structure, to incorporate both existing content and new, and then designing the site map, can be time-consuming, while clients rediscover the user journey and how a fresh pair of eyes may need to see the website.

Agreeing images and copy also takes time, particularly as association members are also business owners or employees with time pressures of their own to contend with. Our account teams balance these needs with the commercial driver that the new website has a deadline and needs to be delivered on time and within budget. The process can be gruelling, and one of our objectives is that we want our clients to be as excited and enthusiastic at the end of the process as they were at the beginning – always a useful yardstick for reviewing the project you’ve just completed.

Member feedback has been extremely positive. The previous website and its four offshoots had become cluttered and confusing. The new site is delivering clarity, sharing

the association’s key messages, delivering new visitors to the website and providing a search and find experience that is fit for purpose and highly user-friendly. The members area has been hugely appreciated because of the personalised content and the new ability to change their profile for different parts of the website, as required.

The website project doesn’t end with the Go Live of course. We’re providing SEO and Google Analytics to the association and working with them on planned digital campaigns for events and membership recruitment. For members, the change happened overnight but for the association officials, it’s a project that’s been well-managed with all objectives achieved and allows them to move forward to their next initiative, whatever that may be.

We recognise that for some associations and charities, outsourcing the secretariat and finance can be a huge decision to take. We have flexible options for associations who are considering outsourcing. Working with us on specific event or marketing projects can be a useful pilot to determine whether working with CJAM is for you. For more information, please contact Jason on or call us on 01787 226995

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