Current Issue

BLOG: TIA talks digital strategy, new website design

Comments Email
TIA website redesign
TIA website homepage

AKRON (May 14, 2014) — Website redesigns are a funny thing. They can be hard to complete because trying to please everyone can lead to pleasing no one.

Weighing common opinions and prioritizing feedback can be hard sometimes if you don’t know where to start. It can be harder still if your users don’t want to give you feedback.

Sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start when you’re thinking about a redesign. So many things need to be done before the project can be tackled — at least that’s what online tip or some of the experts sheets will tell you.

The Tire Industry Association (TIA) recently finished a redesign of its website, and Donna Sage, director of marketing and communications, was willing to answer some questions from Tire Business about the association’s process, what goals it had in mind and more.

Here’s what she had to say about the redesign:

Q: What factors contributed to TIA’s deciding to update its website?

A: “I think everyone was in agreement that the old site needed an overhaul. As one of the primary marketing tools for the association and one of the first interactions many people have with TIA, it needed to better represent our brand.”

Q: When was the redesign first released?

A: “It was released on Feb. 15…. We wanted to do a “soft launch” to make sure things are functioning as they should and so far, so good. We are still working on one major component that will be added to the website soon (stay tuned for details).”

Courtesy of Donna Sage / LinkedIn Donna Sage, director of marketing and communications, Tire Industry Association

Q: How long was the full process?

A: “The entire process took about nine months. I came on board with TIA last February and the website was one of the first projects I wanted to tackle. In late spring, I worked on the request for proposal (RFP) and began contacting and interviewing Web design firms and narrowed it down to a short list to send the RFP. The design process began in August and took about six months.”

Q: What were three goals of the redesign?

A:

• Create a user-friendly website that will increase member acquisition and engagement.

• Deliver large amounts of informative content in a manner that is easy to navigate and visually pleasing.

• Have a content management system (CMS) that allowed for easy content updates and integrates with our association management software (AMS)

Q: What were some of the design issues that TIA wanted to correct from its previous site design?

A: “Our old site had tons of content, but it was very difficult for visitors to find the information they were looking for. It was unorganized and hard to navigate.”

Q: Once the decision was made to redesign, what steps followed?

A: “Web design firms were researched and interviewed and then an RFP was sent out to a select group. Once the proposals were received, they were reviewed thoroughly and references were checked. We selected System Solutions Inc. (SSI), a small firm from California that works very closely with ACGI  the company that provides us with our association management system (AMS). It was very important to us that the website be able to integrate with our AMS. One of the primary reasons SSI was selected was because they had quite a bit of experience integrating with the ACGI system.”

Q: Was an advisory board created at any point during the redesign?

A: “The public relations and marketing committee of the TIA board was involved in reviewing the RFP prior to my sending it out. In addition, once I narrowed down the choices to a couple of firms, I asked them to review proposals and express any concerns.”

Q: What did TIA accomplish with the redesign?

A:

• The new site clearly shows on the home page the main focus areas for TIA, including Advocacy, Training and Events. It is much easier to navigate.

• We’ve added a consumer safety section which includes tire maintenance tips and videos.

• The CMS is very user-friendly and I am able to update the site with ease.

• We’ve added a blog and a photo gallery.

• The site is responsive, which means it will fit multiple screen sizes (such as desktop computers and mobile devices).

Q: What work does TIA see moving forward to ensure continuous updates are made to the site’s design?

A: “The site is always going to be a work in progress. You don’t just launch a website and let it sit there. New content needs to be added on a regular basis. Once our members and visitors start using the site, I am sure we will receive feedback as to areas that we can still improve.”

Q: How can a business owner prioritize its users’ needs when beginning a website redesign?

A: “Determine who your users are and make a list of the type of information they will be looking for on your website. Talk to you customers. Look at your analytics to determine the most visited pages on your current site. That should give you an idea of what information is important to your website visitors. And as mentioned above, look at what your competition is doing.”

Q: What other information did we not address that you care to tell me about the redesign?

A: “We’re really excited about the new design and functionality of the site. It is still a work in progress and we encourage feedback from our users. We’ll continually be working to improve the site.”

                               

                                         SIDEBAR:

Q: What are six tips TIA can offer to an independent tire dealership about to begin the redesign process of its website?

A:

1. Benchmark your current metrics. Before you begin planning your redesign, document your current performance metrics. Start by analyzing your existing site over its history in areas such as: number of visits/visitors/unique visitors; bounce rate; time on site; number of new leads/form submissions; amount of sales generated, etc.

2. Determine a realistic budget. It was amazing as I went through the process to see the difference in pricing from one company to another. Write an RFP so that when you receive proposals, you can compare apples to apples.

3. Choose the right CMS. The backbone of any well-managed website is its content management system (CMS). A good CMS allows you to make updates frequently and easily. Be sure to ask for a demo of the content management system that your website design firm is proposing.

4. Make sure your site is built with growth in mind. This is especially important if you are working on a budget. The design should allow for it to be easily expanded. The last thing you’ll want is to be redesigning a site a year down the road because the site you just redesigned isn’t scalable. If your budget doesn’t allow for you to everything you want initially, you can work in phases.

5. Look at your competition. Find other websites within your industry that have features you like and contact the companies that designed them. For our website, I looked at lots of association websites and made lists of what I liked and didn’t like. I had others on staff and our board do the same and provide me with feedback.

6. Measure your results. An important part of any site redesign is measuring its effectiveness. Just as you looked at metrics before the redesign, you need to do the same after. 

_____________________________________________________

Has your dealership or auto service shop recently redesigned its website? Let us know how it turned out. Email your comments to tirebusiness@crain.com or post them in the comments section of this blog.

More Polls>

TB Reader Poll

Previous | Published March 18, 2019

Where can you expect to see the most growth in 2019?

Tire sales
45% (34 votes)
General automotive service
15% (11 votes)
Brakes, shocks and other undercar services
7% (5 votes)
Add-on business
15% (11 votes)
Anywhere we can get it.
19% (14 votes)
Total votes: 75
More Polls »