Improve the content structure of your membership website

Website content strategy that leads to action

This post offers a practical guide to creating a content plan for your website. By following this guide you will first identify the following three components of your content plan:

  • Target audience groups
  • Website objectives
  • Visitor actions

With that in place, you will then be able to draft the sitemap structure for the key pages on your website with a focus on how your audience will use your website to help you meet your objectives by taking certain actions.

To make it easier for you to create your own content plan we have included a downloadable template you can use. Just follow the guidance in this post and fill in the sections in the template as you go.

For illustration purposes we will provide examples throughout the post. These will focus on the needs of a typical membership organisation but the principles apply to many charities and other similar organisations.
 

We've created a downloadable template to accompany this guide.

Define your target audience groups

It’s important to define your target audience groups in order to ensure that you communicate effectively to the right people through your website. There will be lots of different types of visitors to your site but you should identify the most important audiences and optimise the user experience for them.

Most membership organisations are primarily interested in two key audience groups.

  • Prospective members
  • Current members

There may also be other audience groups that come into contact with your website that you want to include in your content plan.

Examples of other audience groups include the following.

  • Prospective partners
  • Commissioning bodies
  • Trusts and foundations
  • Prospective donors
  • Prospective volunteers
  • Job seekers

Another stakeholder group that is worth listing is internal admin staff. Part of the purpose of any good membership website will be to make life easy for staff who must administer membership queries and communicate with members.


Define your website objectives

Where possible you should define specific and measurable objectives that will help you assess your website’s performance. If content on your website is not contributing to meeting your objectives you might consider removing it or demoting its priority within the sitemap.

Examples of specific and measurable website objectives include the following.

  • 30 new online newsletter sign ups per month
  • 20 new enquiries about membership per month
  • 12 new online membership signups per month

Another set of objectives you might want to include in your plan are those that relate to saving admin time. It can be harder to set numerical targets for these objectives but they are still valid and may be measurable to some extent.

Examples of objectives in this category include the following.

  • Minimise the need to manually add contacts to the database.
  • Minimise the need to manually update people's contact details.
  • Maximise the number of members paying by Direct Debit and auto-renewing.
  • Maximise the opportunity for members to find each others details and connect directly.

Define the actions you want people to take

To ensure your website meets your objectives you must enable your visitors to easily take certain actions. The website content, structure and design should be tailored towards prioritising these actions.

Examples of actions that will help meet the above objectives include the following.

  • Become a member
  • Sign up to the newsletter
  • Book onto our annual conference
  • Update your contact details

A complete example

Here is a complete example of how an organisation might define their audience groups, objectives and actions. The downloadable template [link] provides a table like this one for you to fill in.

Audience Objectives Actions
  • Prospective members
  • 30 new online newsletter sign ups per month
  • 20 new enquiries about membership per month
  • 12 new online membership signups per month
  • Get 70% of members on Direct Debit
  • Sign up to the newsletter
  • Contact us
  • Become a member
  • Set up a Direct Debit
  • Current members
  • 200 delegates to our annual conference
  • 30 people to each of our monthly workshops
  • 600 publication downloads to per month
  • Avoid admins manually update contact details
  • Book onto the conference
  • Book onto the workshop
  • Download the publication
  • Update your details

Structure your sitemap

Your website sitemap is a hierarchical structure of all the pages on your website. A good sitemap provides simple navigation tools and helps guide users towards the actions you want them to take. Here is an example sitemap.

Header menu Actions
Home
  • Signpost to become a member
  • Signpost to upcoming events

About

  • Our work
  • About membership
  • Meet the team
  • Policies

 

  • Signpost to 'Partner with us'
  • Signpost to 'Become a member'
  • Signpost to 'Volunteer'
  • Signpost to 'Publications'
Events
  • Booking form for each event
  • Signpost to 'Tell us about your event' form
News
  • Signpost to 'Subscribe to the newsletter' form

Member area

  • Directory
  • Forum
  • Journal
  • Event materials

 

  • Signpost to 'Update your contact details'
  • Signpost to 'Invite someone to join'
  • Download the journal
  • Download/share event materials

Participate

  • Volunteer
  • Training
  • Skillshare
  • Working groups
  • Partner with us
  • Jobs board

 

  • Volunteer enquiry form
  • Browse upcoming training workshop events
  • Enquiry form for joining skillshare programme
  • Enquiry form for joining a working group
  • Enquiry form to partner with us
  • Application form for jobs
Join now
  • List of membership plans to choose form
  • Join now and pay by Direct Debit

The header menu is the place for most important page. Other pages can be placed in the footer menu which is accessible across the site. Here is an example of a footer menu.

Footer menu Actions
Contact
  • General enquiry form to get in touch
Subscribe
  • Sign up to our newsletter form
Publications
  • Signpost to 'Become a member' to access the journal
Privacy policy  
Date: 
14 October 2016
Owen Roseblade