Although WQA had a goal of becoming the number-one worldwide resource for water quality information, its website lacked the robust search functionality and navigation hierarchy needed to help members and consumers quickly find information. Here’s what happened when the association took action.
By Larry Deutsch
When it comes to associations and nonprofits, websites are vital to member engagement, and therefore, member retention. It is also important to support and evangelize the organization's mission, whatever that may be. For theWater Quality Association (WQA), a not-for-profit association for the residential, commercial, and industrial water treatment industry, this statement rang true and led to the recent overhaul of our organization's website.
Old Website, New Problems
Headquartered in Lisle, Illinois, WQA represents more than 2,700 member companies around the globe. Our membership comprises equipment manufacturers, suppliers, dealers, and distributors of water quality improvement products and services. In addition, WQA serves as an educator of water treatment professionals, certifier of water treatment professionals and products, public information resource, and voice of the water quality improvement industry.
With the goal of becoming the number-one worldwide resource for water quality information, we knew that our old website was our most critical asset in attaining this objective. However, our website lacked the robust search functionality and navigation hierarchy needed to help members and consumers quickly find information. And, if site visitors couldn't easily find their desired information, whether they wanted to find water treatment providers or were looking to learn more about waterborne contaminants, they would either go elsewhere, or contact us directly. The latter led to an increase in call volume, which took time away from our already busy staff. Moreover, a majority of the information they asked about was, in fact, on our site, but difficult to find.
Also, WQA's site was not optimized for mobile browsing. When 80 percent of Internet users own a smartphone (according to Global Web Index), having not only a mobile-ready site, but a responsive site, is key for appealing to users browsing across a breadth of devices. With our old site, members had a difficult time accessing the site's information in the field while out on customer calls. For example, while on the go, a water quality equipment installer may need to look up information on which water softener to use, but struggled to navigate the site.
Engaging in a Solution
WQA selected St. Louis-based Engage, a full-service web and mobile developer, to spearhead its website overhaul. In addition to redesigning the look and feel of the WQA site, integrations were performed with our association management system (AMS), our member/certified professionals database, and our certified product/professionals database. The integrations provided for an intuitive search across each of these databases and within the website.
Our site was built on a content management system called Evoqâ„¢ Content (by DNN). The CMS offers our communications department the flexibility to easily curate and maintain content without programming knowledge or additional IT resources. Using the platform's user roles and workflows, we can establish and uphold standards by which each department uploads content. Also, we made our website responsive, ensuring that content is accessible and readable across the device landscape â€” whether visitors are using a smartphone, desktop, or tablet.
Swimming in Success
With a commitment to the importance of a user-friendly, intuitive website, we were able to easily overcome some of our most difficult web-related challenges. Through its streamlined design, enhanced search functionality, and seamless database integrations, our new site is helping us improve member and consumer browsing experiences, while supporting our growth goals. The CMS is also allowing WQA to more easily curate the content by establishing user roles so that visitors are accessing the most relevant, well-organized information, and staff is saving time.
While we can say that our website helps promote our knowledge and resources, we also have the analytics to prove it. In a year-on-year comparison, we have experienced significant growth in traffic, especially for our key resources pages. For example, our "Find Water Treatment Products" page increased traffic by 20 percent, reduced its bounce rate by 30 percent, and doubled the average time spent on the page. At the same time, pages for "Find Certified Professionals" and "Find Water Treatment Providers" increased traffic by 136 percent and 129 percent, respectively. That means users are more easily finding the information they seek and staying longer on pages. Furthermore, we have increased mobile traffic by 27 percent, showing the value of responsive design.
Looking forward, WQA will continue to introduce new features and capabilities to our site. As a next step, WQA plans to add a portal through which users of our education and professional certification programs will be able to track their progress toward achieving goals, access records of completed classes, and more. With our current site and these additional enhancements, we are positioned to further our goal of being the number-one worldwide resource for water quality.
Larry Deutsch is marketing and communications director for the Water Quality Association (WQA). If you would like to share your success story with Sidebar readers, email firstname.lastname@example.org.