It Takes a (Virtual) Village: Volunteers Help Build Their Dream Website
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
An association’s website is its most powerful marketing channel — and for an association comprising legal marketing and business development professionals, this rings even more true.
The Legal Marketing Association (LMA) was in need of a website refresh and technological upgrade. “As the authority for marketing and business development in the legal industry, having an online presence that reflected best practices in web development was important to the evolving, forward-looking brand,” says Kat Seiffert, LMA director of marketing.
On its surface, the project was an opportunity to bring LMA members new technology and an enhanced user experience. At its core, this was a chance to meaningfully engage volunteers in a way that had not been done before. “LMA has a very active and engaged volunteer leadership, so this new project was a great opportunity to expand the available roles for volunteers and bring new voices to the process,” says Meredith Halperin, LMA senior manager of technology.
A Site for Members, by Members
The groundwork was laid in 2018 when LMA engaged a Technology Roadmap task force. The group identified the technological needs of the association and how to best meet them over a multi-year, multi-platform plan. With time, LMA brought forward four additional task forces and one working group, each thoughtfully focused on a unique aspect of the project. This included:
- Brand and Communications Working Group (2019-2020)
- Website Strategy and User Experience Task Force (2020)
- Website Design and Branding Task Force (2020)
- System Implementation Task Force (2020-2021)
- Strategies & Voices Content Center Task Force (2020-2021)
Staggered over the course of three years, more than 35 volunteers dedicated their time, talent, and expertise to LMA to help bring a new suite of websites to fruition. “Our decision to engage so many volunteers spoke to the importance of having a site that was suited to our audience — and who better to advocate for that than our own members who are experts in marketing,” Halperin says.
The suite of websites included a public-facing site, a membership platform, a community forum, a directory and submissions platform, and a dedicated online content center, Strategies & Voices. Each website-related task force was fully briefed on the strategy and goals of the project, ensuring volunteers could work in tandem and consistently across their areas of work.
Volunteers played to their strengths, leveraging their unique skills while keeping the voice of the member top of mind throughout. The Website Strategy and User Experience Task Force, for example, helped define the website strategy based on their own user experiences, LMA’s strategic plan, surveys with timely data related to website experience, and data from Google Analytics. The Strategies & Voices Task Force, formed in the later stages of the project, included those who had already contributed to the public-facing website and volunteers who had served on LMA’s editorial board in the past year. This blend of experiences helped ensure consistency across website projects, while also keeping editorial goals in mind.
No matter the task force, one thing was clear: “The strategy was member-driven and data-informed, and ultimately approved by the LMA Board of Directors to ensure that buy-in was part of the entire process,” Seiffert says.
3, 2, 1… Launch!
After countless Zoom calls, emails exchanged, designs reviewed, copy edited, and more, the LMA website launched on April 20, 2021 — no less, in the midst of National Volunteer Week. Regarding the timing of the launch, Laura Ludka, LMA senior marketing coordinator, says: “It was always planned to focus on the volunteer leadership behind this project, but [National Volunteer Week] truly allowed us to shine a spotlight on how membership-based organizations like LMA are shaped by the dedicated individuals that donate their time and expertise.”
For volunteers who had dedicated anywhere from three months to three years on the project, this was a moment to savor. LMA acknowledged that by building in a dedicated landing page for website volunteer task force recognition, featuring individuals’ names, titles, firms, and their local LMA regions. Testimonial graphics were placed throughout the page, such as the ones below, further showcasing the voice of the volunteer throughout the site.
Today, the LMA website is a place members can be proud to call a home base and show off to their firm leadership. For prospective members, the thoughtful organization and design of the site — a result of volunteer dedication — offers an easier way to dig into all that LMA has to offer. When it comes to projects of this scale, it really does take a (virtual) village.
Take a closer look at the public-facing LMA websites online here: legalmarketing.org and strategiesandvoices.org.
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