Another Award Winning Website!

It feels great to win an award, especially in front of your peers. Maybe you won that softball trophy your senior year and know what I'm talking about. It's sweetchious when you see people look at you with an appreciative nod.

And when the kudos are about a website, two people deserve credit. The client makes the content, decides if it's worth spending the money on cool design, and has the commitment to quality that drives success. The consultant (us!) builds it out with smart technology and appealing layouts.

The award winners were announced at the 20th anniversary NiUG conference in September of 2016 (NiUG is the National iMIS Users Group and can be found at And one of the websites featured in the Top 10 for 2016 is Florida Justice Association (see FJA's website here).

Association Websites Built in iMIS

This is not the first time a 501CiO Consulting client has won an award for their website. World Waterpark Association won big in 2014 (see WWA's website here). In 2015, Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina (IIANC) scored an accolade (see IIANC's website here).

As the big crowd at NiUG saw this year's top websites, I was stunned in a positive way by the diversity of design styles that can be built in RiSE (the CMS, or content management sysem, that is integrated with iMIS).

One of my favorites was the National Soccer Coaches Association, and their consultant firm was ATS (some great people we are friends with here at 501CiO). If you take a look at you may be surprised and think, "Can RiSE websites be this good-looking?" Oh, yes they can.

And if you'd like to see something really different from the ordinary, take a look at Armstrong Enterprise Communications helped the Toy Industry Association build it.

Does it make you want a more memorable website?

The First Big Lesson from Award Winning iMIS Websites

I sometimes hear from people who think iMIS isn't up to date or cool. They remember versions from ten years ago and believe a great website needs to be built in Drupal or some other CMS (content management system). Or they point to newer companies and their AMS (Association Management System) products.

But here's the first big lesson when you look at Florida Justice Association, National Soccer Coaches Association, or The Genius of Play on the internet: iMIS is a great CMS and you can build splendor and functionality with it comparable to the best platforms out there. Simply put, iMIS is great for showcasing your association on the web.

What Makes the Florida Justice Association Website Great

First, all the credit to the team at FJA. They place a high value on content and technology. Their talented team does marketing well and produces great content. They serve their members brilliantly and know how to demonstrate value in the competitive world associations now find themselves in.

But second, we'll take a little credit at 501CiO. C'mon, it's our newsletter and blog!

Their homepage has a great color scheme and geometrically appealing layout. They use iFrames to call in content in scrollable boxes on the home page. They highlight calls to action in a visible manner.

You might take a look at their online rosters, such as the Leadership page. These displays are automatically populated from the data in iMIS. But they don't look auto-populated! In other words, the rosters show images and names and titles in an appealing display that looks laid out in HTML. It's not. Rather, the query from iMIS data has been massaged with a few layers of tech wizardry to output beautiful content. When officers change, the data is simply modified in iMIS and the website automatically updates.

Their top navigation menu is elegant as well. Members can see the areas requiring a login to access with a custom key symbol next to locked down pages. If you take a quick stroll through the menu, you'll get an idea how much exclusive content and self-service options FJA offers their members via smart phone and computer.

And we gave FJA a Staff Portal, a place where users on staff who do not need a full iMIS license can access queries, dashboards, contact records, and more. The Staff Portal concept is a great way for associations to save money on annual user fees.

How to Make Your Website Great

If you already have an iMIS website, you might not need a do-over. It may just need some cool styling and features added.

Step one is asking yourself what features are mission critical as far as your members are concerned. Mobile responsiveness is, of course, the beginning. They need to see your site and use it on smart phones. But what else? For you it might be offering more online self-service, improving the way users can buy and use online courses, giving chapters in your association their own spaces on the web, or something else.

For most associations, step two is getting a consultant involved once you have identified some areas that need improvement. Maybe you aren't sure if we can do that in iMIS. We probably can. But start with the functionality you need or the service to offer members. And, if you don't already have an idea what the solution is, that's what we're great at designing.

Does it seem overwhelming? Start small. Think phases. Maybe this year you can add a few self-service options and cool features and budget for more in a later phase. Every improvement on the web is a step up for your business goals and your dream to serve your members well.

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