Monday, January 26, 2009

YMCA web site, make it useful

My first plan of action with our web site was initially to jump in and fix two major things - the content and the "look and feel".  We have very little content that tells you who we are, what we do and whats makes us better than other alternatives (and yes we are better ;-)).  I had (and actually still do) this big plan for creating deeper content that describes our programs, services, philosophy and mission.   All of this would improve our organic search results, provide more information to members-prospects and would (in theory) increase traffic.

Then a revelation came as we talked through some things.  Why increase traffic when there is no real reason for people to come to our site?  Our online program registration is functional, but needs work.  We have an online donation page.  But beyond that, we dont have anything in place to make that increased traffic stay once they are on the site.  Our current members dont have much of a reason to visit the site.

So that is when our plan was rearranged a bit. We are working to create an innovative, meaningful set of online tools that will extend the services that the YMCA offers.  Our first step is to super size our online registration system.  We plan to make finding the class that is right for you much easier and even pointing out ones you didnt know we had.  We also plan to make the whole experience much more enjoyable and effecient.  We still plan to really beef up our content, but that will take a little time.  

So what is unique about that to merit a blog post? Nothing, but it is my blog so PLLTTHH. (is that the sound when you stick out your tongue?)

Just kidding.  This is worth posting and sharing because I wonder how many of us out there focus on spending so much time getting new traffic, recruiting new members, pushing SEO and such that we forget to make the experience meaningful to our audience.

Too many YMCAs are just OK with mediocre online registration and membership management tools.  Their web site is just there as a reproduction of their brochure and a cash register to accept payment for classes.  I am sure this is true with other orgs as well.  My thought is to offer a set of tools like no other YMCA that adds real value to our members.


Greg said...

Steve - you guys are a good2gether partners in Chicago. You might want to check out my blog post on syndicating content from the Do Good channel back to your own site.

Your stuff would be in the Do Good channel at the Chicago Tribune AND back at your own site. If we want to learn more, ping me (greg at good2gether dot com).

Steve Heye said...

Hi Greg,

Thanks, yes we are exploring how to best leverage the good2gether widget. Looking forward to seeing how it all plays out. Looks like some other YMCAs are on board in other cities as well.