Membership Website Audit: UX versus visual upgrade

This client came to us with a variety of dilemmas, all of which she thought could be solved with a website redesign, including:

  • 92% + bounce rate
  • 0 new membership signups in months
  • Low member engagement rate

But what we quickly realized was that she needed direction, specifically strategic help with locating and communicating with her target audience. While she could identify them, her brand and marketing were in no way geared toward reaching them. As a result, her memberships, her primary revenue source, had flatlined.

Before we would move toward the visual / structural redesign project, the client signed up for three months of strategy sessions, which helped us to learn her business, address her unique needs, and figure out how to better serve her users.

While her website seemed focused primarily on job seekers, our strategy sessions unearthed that the primary goal was to attract new members—career coaches and resume writers—since she made no commission off connecting job seekers with these members.

The website didn’t make clear these key factors:

  • That the website is a network—not just an informational site. That it unites career professionals with job seekers, thereby humanizing a very stressful situation, especially in this day and age: job seeking. This message was nowhere.
  • That the network brings job seekers together with the very best career professionals. With an overused word like “Experts” in the company name, it can be difficult from a branding and messaging standpoint to prove the point. Yet each career professional / member has to go through a screening process to prove that they’re accredited, making TCE a resource above and beyond other career networks. This message was nowhere.
  • That the primary focus of the site is on the career professional, providing resources and support to them, not just providing access to them and their expertise (in the form of a blog) to job seekers. This message was hidden.

Once we’d gotten a handle on repositioning the brand’s message and helped the owner to understand who she was targeting (and how she’d been targeting them wrong), we then set out to begin the website redesign process.

These initial strategy steps allowed us to do both user experience design and visual design. (What are the differences? Check out this infographic.) Unfortunately, the client reverted to her old patterns within a year of the site’s relaunch, dropping buckets of unreadable copy and confusing calls to action throughout the site, her traffic and interactions online steadily declined, and she closed the business after minimal growth.

The lesson? Listen to the experts… Budget for a team to help you with what you cannot do on your own.

Management consultant and brand strategist for small teams. Fan of dark tea, thick books, peace, and unity.

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