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Tedde van Gelderen

Tedde van Gelderen

Founder & President

Dear Association Website: Is Your Mandate Showing?

When I see some association websites it strikes me that they have a hard time serving the right content to their diverse audience: a balance of posting useful information, advocating for their cause, promoting membership and sharing event details.

It seems that the conversation at the design table revolves around making as many people happy with as much information we can put on a page.  In the end the result is at best busy and at worst it gives you a headache.

What makes us take a web page and think we need to shout the loudest and have the most spectacular design possible in an attempt to do…what?  Get more people to the site? No, I’m already here so a bigger banner doesn’t make me go ‘more’ to the site I’m already visiting.  Get me to read everything that is really important? No again, by all shouting at the same time, no one can understand a word you’re saying. The chances are increasing by the second that I will leave the site if I don’t get an inkling of a useful piece of information soon. So, what am I looking for?

The Typical Top 4 Reasons to Visit your Association Website:

  • I am a member/non-member who would like to make a difference by volunteering / donating.
  • I’m an interested person that wants to know more about the association and what they stand for, what they do and for whom.
  • I work in the industry and like to know how I can apply for/renew membership.
  • I am any of the above people and like to learn about the latest events of the organisation.

The above reasons would cover about 80-90% of the reasons why people want to visit the site. By this reasoning you’d say that the design devotes some kind of balance in content, real estate space on the page even, to reflect these top 4. What I find is that this is hardly ever the case. Most association websites have distinct slants towards one of these tasks.

So, go to an association website of your choice, and see what the order is of our top 4 while looking at the page. Was that order intentional? Should it be this order given your Vision of the association? It’s this question that really should drive the design and content in the end.

More often than not we find that association websites are not reflecting their mandate priorities and the web site is seen as a separate conversation with shifting goals and directions. It’s time to align these sites more with the Vision and goals and use the web site as the organizational business tool it should be. Not a platform where everyone gets to vie for attention.

Tedde van Gelderen

Tedde van Gelderen

Founder & President

Continually looking for ways to improve the experiences of others, Tedde has dedicated his professional life to experience design, research and strategy. He derives energy, motivation, and purpose from improving the experiences of others and believes that every organization — and every industry — can benefit from Experience Thinking.


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Akendi is a human experience design firm, leveraging equal parts experience research and creative design excellence. We provide strategic insights and analysis about customer and user behaviour and combine this knowledge with inspired design. The results enable organizations to improve effectiveness, engage users and provide remarkable customer experiences to their audiences.