Best Practices

How Associations Can Optimize Their Website User Experience (UX)

Callie Hinman
Callie Hinman
September 14, 2021

Your website user experience (UX) has a major effect on not just how your association is perceived but how successful you are at accomplishing important goals like enrolling new members, engaging with existing members, encouraging donations, and enlisting volunteers.

Because your association’s website serves a variety of purposes for an array of audiences, optimizing the website UX can be challenging. Finding the time to make updates is also difficult when the organization already has a long list of competing priorities.

However, you don’t have to make broad sweeping changes to your site every six months. If you can find a way to set aside just a bit of time twice a year for website improvements, there are a few key areas you can optimize that will have the greatest impact on your website UX.

Here are three steps your association can take to upgrade your website user experience.

Design a User-Focused Menu

Your navigation menu is the main way members and non-members maneuver through your website. For this reason, one of your top priorities is to ensure it is organized in a manner that enables every visitor to find what they’re looking for quickly.

Consider the different types of people who come to your site and their specific motivations for visiting. Depending on the size and type of your association, that includes some mix of current and potential members, volunteers, donors, and the public—each with their own unique reasons for coming to your website.

For example, prospective members are interested in joining but may first want to learn more about your association and the benefits of becoming a member. Volunteers, both existing and potential, are searching for details about upcoming opportunities to support the association. Current donors are looking for your donation page, and possible donors are conducting research to decide if they want to contribute. Lastly, the public might be visiting to learn more about your industry or because they’re seeking referrals.

Active members have the most diverse set of reasons for visiting your website, such as viewing the member directory, engaging with an online forum, registering for events, downloading educational resources, learning about legislative updates, and more.

Understanding the primary purpose your website serves to these groups of people will allow you to determine how the navigation menu should be arranged as well as which links are essential and which can be added to the footer.

Create Clear Paths to Conversion

Another major goal when optimizing your association’s website user experience should be to establish clear paths to conversion for each type of site visitor. So, while you’re outlining why various individuals come to your website, you should also think about which particular actions you want every category of visitor to take.

Then, you need to begin building connections between related pages and offering ample opportunities for members and non-members to convert. This means adding links to other relevant content the visitor may find interesting and always having the appropriate call-to-action (CTA) displayed prominently.

For instance, to make it easy for potential members to see everything your association can offer them, you can include links on your membership page to things like your events calendar, member benefits page, information on recent legislative actions, and/or educational resources center. Be sure to also add CTAs to your registration form/application on each of these pages so prospective members can join as soon as they’re ready.

If your organization accepts donations, you can add links on your programs pages to stories of how the organization has been able to help the community and/or the industry with the support of donors and include a Donate CTA at the end of each article to encourage donations.

Another option is to incorporate primary CTAs such as Join and Donate into your main navigation so they are automatically accessible on every page.

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Increase Data and Website Security

From here, your next priority is to ensure that once a website visitor is ready to convert, all of the information they provide is protected and any payments for memberships, events, sponsorships, or donations are processed securely.

Since your website is connected to various databases and networks, it creates potential weak spots that cybercriminals can exploit. Accordingly, a crucial aspect of enhancing your data security (and website UX) is taking steps to fortify your site.

One way to minimize vulnerabilities is by establishing and enforcing comprehensive policies and procedures regarding technology use and data security.

For example, an acceptable use policy (AUP) explicitly states the rules staff and volunteers must follow while using technology to perform work for the organization. An AUP should be part of your association’s policies and procedures documentation because it reduces opportunities for staff and volunteers to either intentionally or inadvertently compromise the security of your website and, in turn, the organization.

Another effective method for keeping private data safe is to work with an online payment solution provider that offers security features like hosted fields.

Hosted fields replace fields that collect sensitive payment information, such as credit card numbers, expiration dates, and CVV codes. Any data captured by a hosted field is encrypted and sent directly to the payment solution provider’s secure servers. By using hosted fields, you can prevent cybercriminals from scraping credit card data from your site.

These backend security measures may not be as obvious to website visitors as the design of the navigation menu or the structure of your site, but they play just as important a role in the website user experience.


Your website is the digital welcome mat for your association, and as soon as a visitor arrives, you want them to be confident they’ve come to the right place. If you design user-focused navigation, establish clear paths to conversion, and boost your data security, you can be confident that the website user experience will be consistently exceptional.