Two years after the Presentation Guild first launched, I relaunched the second iteration of the site. The original website was a labor of love, glitches, fixes, and expansion. Twenty-eighteen had me hard at work building a whole new Guild experience.
Guild Site 1.0 (G1) had its issues as it was cobbled together as we build the organization and change a few major components that ran behind the scenes. We received great feedback from the membership during the first two years which was incorporated into the new and improved Guild site.
Less selling, more desired content.
When anyone first visited the main page in G1, they were met with a lot of calls to join the organization. This worked well when we were brand new, however, over time we had the feedback that our members didn’t want to be sold to when they visited.
To bring a more welcoming feel to the experience, visitors are no longer shouted at to JOIN NOW! Instead, All users are presented with a selection of content from various parts of the website. The intention is to give members a very quick glance of what’s new while teasing non-members with just enough information so that they might want to dig deeper. For most content, that would require non-members to join the organization.
There were technically 4 different navigation systems hidden in G1, which made getting to where you needed to go rather frustrating. Specifically, G1’s Member Hub (where you could access all membership details, member-exclusive content, etc.) was a tile system that was not only obscure, but often displayed horribly across mobile.
Great navigation is the foundation of any good user experience, so special attention was paid to our site navigation and structure. Whether you’re logged in or not, you will see all available places to go in the updated navigation configuration (with the exception of “my Guild” which goes to your personalized account information). And that Member Hub? Gone. What used to be buried in the site has been gathered into the My Guild item.
G1, while responsive, wasn’t built with a mobile-first mentality. Regrettably, mobile-friendliness was more of an afterthought. Because of that, many of the most-used features of the site were a struggle to work with.
The new Guild experience (G2) has been tested extensively on mobile and is much easier to use. Those of us with big fingers should have an easier time of things. The most interactive elements of G2 (forums and chat) were extensively tested on mobile to make sure that they could be used effortlessly across all platforms.
New site features = new member benefits
A lot of custom coding and puzzle-piecing went into forcing the site to do exactly what I wanted it to do for members including:
A page for members to showcase their projects in a style that does them justice.
A glanceable archive of past webinars.
A job board that is free for members, but where non-members can pay to post openings.
And a cleaner, more organized member discount page.
More than one membership choice
All of the new features were completed and then I created a total of 6 additional membership levels as well as the option to gift single memberships. Each single or group membership comes with its own set of site accesses and perks.
The new Guild experience at last
The build took about 200 hours of coding, design, and content creation on my part. Many others were involved in proofing, content creation, user interviews, and card sorting exercises. And so far, all feedback has been excellent.