Water Quality Association’s New Website Makes a Splash
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 the Water 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
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
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 Evoq™ 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 — 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
Larry Deutsch is
marketing and communications director for the Water Quality Association (WQA).
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