A New Conference or Association Website – Are You Crazy

by | Last updated Mar 9, 2017

2005 was a pretty rough year. We had Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and eleven Asian countries were just starting to recover from the 2014 Tsunami. There were some bright spots, though, Gwen Stefani had the number two song of the year with Hollaback Girl and Green Day hit with Wake Me Up When September Ends. The other big hit of 2005? Your new association website was spectacular… Amazing even, it was the rage of the industry. Members loved it, attendees could speak of nothing else.

Fast forward 11 years and here we are, and still, there is your website… Looking a little wrinkly, a little old, and it is kinda smelling like moth balls, desperation, and Bengay.

To make matters worse, this past January, Google confirmed that they were rolling out the mobile intrusive interstitials penalty. In no-geek-speak, this means that If your association website is not mobile device friendly (responsive), your awesome 2005 website is going to start hurting your search results which will start hurting your bottom line. That technological marvel is no longer marvelous, and now your association or conference is going to take a financial hit because no one knows what to do with the ol goat.

Relax there sparky, hope is not lost. You can recover from this without breaking your annual operating budget. You just need a platform, a lot of planning, and the will to kill that nasty beast of a website.

The how is easy. Most small and midsized associations and conferences can use WordPress. Back in 2005, WordPress was just a baby, only two years old, but it has come a long way in the past few years, and now it is the CMS (Content Management System) of choice for many conferences and associations. In fact, it powers almost 30% of the websites around the globe. WordPress is no longer just a little website builder for bloggers; it is a full blown powerhouse that can run your conference or association website for years to come.

The Plan my dear Stan, is where the rubber meets the road, where success is born, or where good ideas go to die. You have to have a realistic plan to move years of member/attendee data, posts, images, and more while keeping the same URLs or employing redirects, so you keep your Google Rank. No plan means you are courting disaster. You should work with a pro to develop YOUR plan, but it pays to hit those magic interwebs and get some pointers from people who have already done some thinking on the subject. There are plenty of resources out there to make your life easier, I happen to like this WordPress Planning post from WPMU and this SEO (Search Engine Optimization) plan from Search Engine Journal. Both are excellent resources.

Killing off the old site is the fun part. Because you are going to hire a professional and not do this yourself, this might be the one spot where you can sit back, relax, and let someone else do the thinking. Launch on a Sunday morning while you lounge at home sipping Bloody Marys, eating your Eggs Benedict, and cranking up the Billboard Hot 100 for 2005.

The time is never right to complete a project like this. Sorry sunshine, it is never going to simple and while WordPress can handle most situations we are not naive enough to think that it can handle them all… but, you will never know until you start and getting educated is the first step.

Regardless of the platform, once you come out the other side, you will discover things you never thought possible. A new site will make it easier for members and attendees to manage their own memberships, register for conferences, take educational courses, and more. You will be hip and cool again; your life will be easier, and that means you can do a better job.

Check out this handy little infographic from Hall Internet Marketing.