You’ve probably suspected that usability of your site is an important factor for recruiting new members (as well as keeping existing ones on), but exactly how important is it? As it turns out, UX (user experience) might just be the single most important deciding factor for your potential member. Read on to see if your site makes the cut and how you can improve your association’s offline relationship with its members online so they have an air of relaxtion surrounding them.
Positive user experience (UX) is essential for successful site navigation
To direct visitors around any user interface (UI) positive UX is important, but this is particularly relevant to Memership Management Systems (MMS) and Association Membership Systems (AMS) platforms, where the online space is the main interactive platform for the members. Have you ever opened a webpage (or a blog, or any online platform) and thought to yourself something could be made better. It may be a drop down menu here to make it easier to navigate, or maybe a search bar there to help you get to what you want, that much faster.
What usually tends to happen is that you start using the webpage less and less (unless their content is unmissable) and even then, another website is bound to come up and get an edge, and you will migrate to that instead. So if you are the owner of said site, you need to fix up or lose advantage. On the other hand, a positive UX leads to customer retention, according to UsabilityNet.org. Have a look at one of OFEC vid's about how to improve the performance of your website.
Feedback is the name of the game, and it benefits both user and the association. Especially for the user of an Association Management System or a Membership Management System where it is more or less automated, the end user may experience a multitude of things without the organisation ever getting to know about it. With so much choice available at the user’s fingertips, most do not bother writing angry (or distraught) letters like they used to- instead they find a better functioning service provider.
To convert visitors into members and retain usage rates, it is important for the membership provider to get feedback. Below, you will find two key strategies to not only gain feedback, but also create member engagement on a social (informal) level and simultaneously improve your service on offer.
Nowadays, it goes without saying that most service providers have a token social media page, an online platform for the members to converse. While it may feel like a risky strategy for an institution to potentially expose themselves to negative tirades going viral, with the correct and sensitive handling of the comments (which, if negative, you need to respond privately, and take it off before it snowballs), it can be very insightful, and also give your institution a boost from all the positive comments. Reply to the comments, and take it on board to make your service better; there is nothing more encouraging to a user than to see their opinions being valued.
One step up from feedback, you can appeal to the members to take on active role in co-creating, or improving the site they use. There is no one better to suggest changes than the person who uses it most often. You can do this off line as well as online. Some methods range from sending annual feedback forms along with personal details update forms, or annual magazines you may do; to links to surveymonkey forms on e-newsletters, or even a pop up on your site, where the visitor can give most responsive and instantaneous feedback to your questions. A personalized note telling them to come back (on a specific date) to view the improved site- or a report on the total feedback given- would be a great encouragement for the visitors to return to your site. This can then lead on to keep in touch with your members by providing updates on your implementation of the changes etc. Creating a culture where members can be co-creators in your Association through social media, surveys, spot calls, polls not only creates content and engagement on your site, it also creates news!
Remember, you need to step out from behind the logo so you are more personable- being human on sites and social media reduces the distance between association and the members, thus leading to more engagement over time- no one wants to speak to a machine, they want to speak to the person behind the screen!