You know those rotating images… sliders, carousels, rotators, by any name they are useless. They are #1 on Things That Don’t Matter. Except in one way. They solve a political team issue. But if this is how politics are getting solved, then hand the web project over to someone who will not sacrifice your web marketing to assuage the turf wars amongst colleagues.

Have you looked at the stats on those things? Has anyone ever had a click on the third item? Ever? It’s been said better before, but they simply do not work for your users and are a waste of valuable real estate.

But if you are feeling pressure to have one, or attracted to them yourself, maybe this short and sweet, ironic carousel will help you self-correct.

To defend anyone who turns to a slider as a solution, the problem is bigger than you. This is why it happens:
• The proper web analytics are not in place to show people that homepage above-the-fold is not “the” place to be
• In the absence of a well-formulated content strategy, the web content lacks purpose beyond informing readers. In gross understatement, that’s a missed opportunity.
• Finally it’s bad content marketing. If your content was strategically mapped, you would have high traffic going to certain pages because you planned it that way. You should know what matters to your members in the first part of the year, or the months preceding a particular conference, and so you can be the source for that info.

If the right analytics are not in place, then your site process is like the wild west with teams clamoring for the real estate on the hill with a big tree near a river. With no strategy you are organizing content in a way that aligns with internal views; using departmental or turf lines even if they are not contemporary distinctions or are dysfunctional. And without a strategy you certainly can’t be using your content to effectively draw the right audiences to you where they may discover that you are just what they have been looking for.

Click here to tweet this: Considering web slider on association homepage? Step away, pass site design decisions to someone else. ow.ly/CXZVM

Homepage, Above-the-fold

Trust me, nothing much worthwhile is on the homepage above the fold. OK, don’t trust me, but let’s talk about it.

If most people are coming to your homepage, you are not doing your content marketing very well. You have tons of content, right? And it all can’t fit on the homepage, right? And if you prioritized which content matters to the audience that affects your bottom line the most, would that content be found on home, above fold? No. That’s not where it is. Plus, if you share your content well beyond your site, as you should, then you’ll attract many people to that content, which we have now determined is more than likely not on the homepage.

The homepage is for strangers, first time visitors. Further the homepage serves one purpose only. Can you guess what it is? I wanted to put the answer at the end of the post, but then I can’t make this point. The purpose of a homepage is to get people to click over to another page on your site. Statistically, if you can get them past bouncing off from one page, they’ll stick around and may even come back. And of course it is also to serve as a directory: here’s where you’ll find out who we are and here is how info is categorized on our site. But, it has been years since the observation that user behavior changed; gone are the days of scrolling through menus. Instead, most move from one link in content to another. Again, the majority of links bypass home.

Click here to tweet this: What is real purpose of an association homepage? To get users to click to one more page. ow.ly/CXZVM

And look at your stats about where people coming from. If all is right and well with your marketing, site traffic should be coming from other sites linking to your site’s content as well as from your own seeded content on other sites and in social channels. Rarely do any of those links go to your homepage, instead they link to the specific content of interest. So, Things That Don’t Matter #2… your homepage above the fold.

Technology

OK, technology actually matters a lot. What platform do you build your site on? How do you manage your member database and rolling membership terms? Which ecommerce solution do you use? How is your email marketing connected to your website data? That all does matter quite a bit.

But what doesn’t matter is that the technology is a known solution that caters to associations alone. Why? Because the number of technologies available are vast and many businesses these days look just like associations, meaning their site needs are darn similar.

Consider this organization. Most of their revenue comes from member dues, they offer products and services, conduct commerce on their site as well as in person, they have a magazine, many newsletters, do email marketing and they have f2f events. Think how they solve their web marketing needs might be similar to yours? You’re right. On paper, they look just like an association — as many businesses do these days — but this sample organization happens to be Costco.

With so many businesses needing to manage and market memberships, events and seemingly endless amounts of educational content, there must be some technologies that are being used throughout the world to meet these needs, right?

An important aspect to consider is that a key part of the value of any technology is the universe that it comes integrated with. Meaning it can plug in with other technologies to “speak to each other.” So as new needs arise, you are not painted into a corner with a solution, that while it met your past needs, it can’t adapt without you shouldering the expense to be part of a solution for your future needs.

You want technologies that laser focus their expertise to be best of breed and allow you to hook up other technologies easily and cheaply. You should not need to foot the bill for a costly integration, nor should you have to pay a fee to “customize.” They should be ready to plug in with leading technologies that serve the wide set of needs you have.

Click here to tweet this: If it is a best of breed website technology solution, it comes ready-to-integrate with other best of breed solutions. ow.ly/CXZVM

Need analytics that will give you all historical site activity on one person once they identify themselves on your site? (Would it be useful to know that members poke about for 6-8 months before joining? I can think of many reasons to know if that is the case for you, but that might be another blog post). You need your email marketing integrated with your website analytics integrated with your commerce solution integrated with your member management integrated with your social analytics integrated with your database. And guess what? I can do that with three technologies.

They come ready to integrate with each other as well as with a host of other leading technologies. One is used by over 10,000 subscribers worldwide and the other over 2 million. Think they might know what they’re doing? Think they might provide you with constant stream of information to help you do better? Yes and yes. Think they are out of reach of your budget? Nope.

So when considering technologies, look outside the association sphere to make informed decisions. If you ultimately decide to use a technology suite known to associations then you can do with confidence if you made your choice with a full awareness of what your options are.

By the way, if you want a free website tech check that will suggest technology combination solutions for you, let us know here.

So now you know that Things That Don’t Matter #3 is limiting the technologies that you consider to those that are focused on a small niche audience. With their far smaller user base the truth is that their ability to grow with your needs and integrate with the vast universe out there is just limited. Even so, they may still meet your needs fine – you’ll only know whether this is the case once you try to do something new.

So here they are, the 3 things that don’t matter for websites:

  1. carousels or rotators
  2. fighting for real estate that is above the fold on homepage
  3. technology that is targeted to only your small niche which therefore lacks a “universe”

By Monica Bussolati
@bussolati

 

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