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The Web You Weave - 5/14/2013 -

In one association’s website redesign, the goal was to do it right so the organization isn’t back redesigning again any time soon.

By Apryl Motley, CAE

(Editor's note: Don't miss AM&P's Annual Meeting Preconference Workshop, "Rule the Web: Content Governance for Your Website," on June 9, 2013.)

If you’re not quite sure what an actuary does, you’re not alone. The need to communicate more effectively about this mysterious profession, particularly to younger audiences, was the driving force behind the redesign of the website used to promote the profession.

In a collaborative effort, the Casualty Actuarial Society and the Society of Actuaries joined forces to redevelop the profession’s flagship website "Be an Actuary.” The first site was launched in 1999 and then re-launched in 2003.

As per their project mission statement, "the primary goal of the redesign was to update the appearance of the site while introducing interactive and dynamic elements that will energize, inform, and excite various audiences about the prospects of a career as an actuary.”

Megan O’Neill, communication and corporate relations manager, and Jennifer Walton, IT and online services manager, at CAS coordinated efforts to achieve this goal.

During an Association Media & Publishing Lunch & Learn on "How to Make a Winning Website,” the pair told attendees about their experiences redesigning the site — from identifying vendors to assist with the project and coordinating the RFP process to soliciting input from key audiences and reviewing potential designs.

"We tried to include members in the process,” O’Neill says. "We were looking for new and creative ideas, and we didn’t want them to get stuck in a rut.” Two joint CAS/SOA committees played key roles in the process, one on career encouragement and the other on actuarial diversity.

In addition, online focus groups were held with representatives from different key target audiences including:

  • 12 high school and college students with an actuarial science friendly background.
  • 10 current actuaries between the ages of 23 and 30, who had passed two actuarial exams.

Based on feedback from these groups, vendor input, and other research, O’Neill and Walton determined that the redeveloped website should be:

  • Compelling — infused with the messages of opportunity, challenge, and reward that resonate with students and their influencers.
  • Scalable — easy to grow in an organized manner and works within the association’s content management system.
  • Sustainable — easy to maintain and based on a marketing contingency plan.
  • Easy to use — site visitors should find it easy to locate information they need.

Of course, the CAS team’s findings are applicable and important for any association to keep in mind when managing the redesign of their organization’s website. It took some time to develop and launch the new site — starting in early 2009 to launching in August 2010, but Walton says, "It was worth the time it took because we wanted to ensure that another redesign isn’t necessary so soon.”

Apryl Motley, CAE is a communications consultant and member of the Association Media & Publishing Content Creation Committee. Association Media & Publishing sincerely thanks Apryl for volunteering to cover this event for members unable to attend.


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