Fresh Perspective: The Benefits of a Heuristic Website Evaluation

By • June 14, 2018

Last month, I attended the ASAE Marketing, Membership, and Communications Conference in Washington, DC. The MM&C Conference gives association and nonprofit professionals the insight to improve their marcomm and membership strategies, and teaches the latest in engagement, technology and trends from industry leaders. This year, the keynote speakers and learning lab presenters highlighted the importance of shaking things up in your marketing and membership strategies, and keeping a fresh perspective to stay ahead of the latest marketing trends.

I attended a presentation by Ray Van Hilst, director of client strategy for Yoko Co, and Kim FitzSimmons, assistant executive director of marketing for the American Association of Endodontists, about how to enhance the member experience on association websites using a heuristic evaluation for your website review strategies.

According to Vah Hilst and FitzSimmons, members and prospective members interact with association websites more than any other association program. An association’s website can encourage a potential new member to join, or decide not to. Association websites can be overcomplicated, inconsistent, and uninformative. When the average viewer will leave within 10 to 20 seconds of looking over a website, it is important that your website is engaging and leaves a positive impression.

Once an association creates a website, it is rarely reevaluated as frequently as it should be. This can cause a website to become uninformative, overcomplicated, and potentially present stale content. Association websites need to be educational, easy to navigate, and constantly updated. Websites need to give users someplace to go and something to do; it is important that the content smoothly guides the user to the next step and drives action. A new perspective when evaluating your association’s website can help you keep it functioning optimally.

Ray and Kim suggest using heuristic evaluation software (like UX Check or Google Page Insights) to help identify usability problems in the user interface design. Evaluators (you, 2-3 staff members, an external consultant) examine the interface and judge its compliance with recognized usability principles.  Examine your website based on appearance and design, content, navigation, efficiency and accessibility, and mobile experience. Then analyze your entire website, subsections, and specific web pages as an expected user would as well as through the lens of your association goals.

Looking for a website tool that will give you a 10,000-ft view of your website’s performance? Try firstsiteguide.com.

By conducting a heuristic evaluation on your website, you can enhance the user experience and perception of your association. It may be YOUR website, but it’s your members’ experience that makes the difference in increasing online engagement and growing your association in the future.

About The Author

Rachael Johnston is a business development specialist at Naylor Association Solutions.