Beth Provenzano is Vice President, Public Affairs of MAG, and recently oversaw the complete redesign of the MAG website. In the wake of the redesign, the website showcases intuitive navigation and seamless integrations, leading to an exceptional user experience. Not only that, but it’s now been recognized by the Communicator Awards as a top association site.
LET’S START WITH THE REASONS BEHIND THE REDESIGN. WHAT DID YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH?
We assessed our communications channels through an audit a few years ago. Our merchant members said that they were looking for a better user experience when it came to our website. We prioritized building a dynamic, easy to navigate, and searchable site. Payments is a rapidly evolving industry, and we will continue to add important information to our website. It is critical that with the density of information merchants and sponsors find what they are looking for easily.
WHAT NEW ASPECT OF THE WEBSITE WAS THE BIGGEST GAME CHANGER FOR YOUR MEMBERS?
The organization of the website is completely different. MAG has a lot of resources for our merchant members and sponsors, and we tried to lay it all out in an intuitive way, whether that be through Education, Engagement, News or Conferences pages. Our goal was to make anything that a merchant or sponsor may look for easy to find, while also sharing the depth and breadth of our informative and encompassing catalog of payments materials.
We revamped our newsletter into a blog, now called MAG Insights. MAG staff, members and sponsors write Insights articles, and this new format allows us to deliver content in smaller, digestible bites. We also added a subscription feature, so our audience may choose their frequency of receiving the articles via email.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER ASSOCIATIONS INTERESTED IN REDESIGNING THEIR WEBSITE?
Take the time to do a comprehensive communications audit first. Try to figure out how your members and sponsors utilize your communications tools and what their preferences are. Then, if a website redesign is a priority, take an even deeper look at how the current website functions and what your audience would appreciate and benefit from in a redesigned version. Work with your team to state clear goals and a vision for your new site. It is a long, involved process to revamp communications channels, especially websites; but it is worth it to put the work in up front to have the best possible product, not only from a design perspective but also on the backend behind the scenes. A detailed audit and assessment, along with having a clear vision, make not only the user experience better, but the due diligence should also make the updates and maintenance of the website easier for staff.
I also recommend finding a partner you trust who understands and respects the vision and goals you have for the site. It is imperative to be on the same page amongst your staff as well as outside parties who are assisting you with the project. We are grateful for our partnership with Astriata. Their commitment to our vision was extraordinary, and it was a truly collaborative process.
THE REDESIGNED WEBSITE USES ILLUSTRATIONS, WHICH ARE SOMEWHAT UNUSUAL ON AN ASSOCIATION WEBSITE. WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF THIS?
As we were talking with the team at Astriata about our vision, it was clear we needed a refresh in the look and feel of our website. Our previous site was extremely text heavy, and as we looked at other sites for inspiration, which included associations, nonprofits and companies, we were drawn to graphics and illustrations. We incorporated illustrations to improve the user experience with the goal of making our sections, features and resources easy to differentiate.
WAS CONNECTING TO THE NEW LMS (LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM) A CHALLENGE?
The LMS integration was a complicated initiative because we elected to connect our new LMS to the website but also wanted to write back to iMIS. Astriata supported the LMS integration, and the end result was a creative solution that allowed for the MAG to virtually host LMS content on the website without requiring a duplication of efforts on our team to enter things in two places. Even with this creative solution, we also faced challenges with the integration and support of an additional vendor as well as limitations of iMIS reporting and data feeds.
ONE OF THE GOALS WAS TO CLEARLY ORGANIZE ACCESS TO YOUR RESOURCES. HOW DID YOU ACCOMPLISH THAT?
Many merchant members told us finding conference information is a top priority when visiting our site. In addition, MAG produces a lot of educational content on payments. Making the site intuitive to the audience was important. We conducted a comprehensive content audit to identify which resources to archive and which resources to house on the new site. As part of that process, we also assigned where resources should live. We gave a lot of thought as to what the layout should be so merchant members and sponsors may easily find these resources, whether it is a conference agenda, best practice guide, or a committee’s mission, among many other types of information we share on the site.
WHAT TYPE OF FEEDBACK HAVE YOU RECEIVED FROM YOUR MEMBERS? ARE THEY FINDING WHAT THEY NEED?
Merchant members have shared a lot of positive feedback. They tell us the new site is sleek and easy to use, and that they are better able to find what they are looking for. The positive feedback is rewarding for the staff who prepared for years and worked hard to deliver this improved experience. We are also extremely aware that the website cannot remain static. It is a staff priority to keep the site fresh, engaging and up to date with the latest and most relevant payments information, so that we may continue to deliver the ultimate user experience.
TELL US ABOUT THE AWARD. WHAT WAS THE MAG WEBSITE RECOGNIZED FOR, AND BY WHOM?
MAG received a Communicator Award of Distinction for Association Websites. The Communicator Awards are judged and overseen by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts (AIVA). We are extremely grateful for the partnership with Astriata and the input from our merchant members and sponsors throughout our redesign process. Our collaborative efforts and the team’s attention to detail on each aspect of the site helped us receive this incredible honor.