The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) is a national group of pharmacists with over 62,000 members including practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians. The association provides professionals with topical information, continuing education opportunities, and advocacy resources to push key issues forward.
When APhA approached LookThink, their membership numbers and associated revenue were declining — and their key demographic for future growth, student pharmacists, only comprised 1% of their total paid members. APhA stakeholders knew they needed to embark on a major organizational overhaul to turn the situation around, with efforts centering on improving the association’s website, Pharmacist.com.
Cumbersome, disorganized, and bloated with 36,000 pages, visitors struggled to find the information they were seeking and as a result, they did not view the site as the robust resource APhA wanted it to be. In addition, the site lacked a powerful search option, resulting in users wandering around the site and often giving up before finding the content they had in mind. Relatedly, APhA housed a significant amount of content on platforms outside the site, none of which surfaced in site search results.
Ultimately, APhA wanted the site to serve as the preeminent resource for industry information and insights to ensure that APhA is the first and best resource members seek for support on their professional journey — so we jumped in enthusiastically to help achieve that goal.
Given the breadth and depth of the old site — and the goals each department had for the new site — we facilitated a variety of discovery and than hands-on organizational activities to shape the new site experience:
In-depth content audit and site reorganization
We poured through hundreds of pages on the site to evaluate each for relevancy and then grouped the content into topic based categories. From there, the content needed to be organized so visitors to the site could easily find what they were seeking. This meant changing the existing navigation and site structure to better fit members’ needs.
Prior to our intervention, the tagging schema of APhA’s site was unstructured, duplicated in some sections, and lacked a consistent set of rules — all resulting in unhelpful search results. Once we had a clean set of categories, topics, and tags, we built the site permissions so that only the people who understood the tagging process could tag content. By doing this, we created a much more stable structure that allows searching, sorting, and filtering to function as intended.
APhA operates several platforms for their publications and journals that exist outside of the main APhA website that were previously unsearchable from the main website. We designed a way to surface links to the other platforms so users could easily locate more results. And, where possible, we passed queries from one platform to another so users did not have to retype their search terms.
Increased content behind member login
During our evaluation of the site, we realized that most of the content was on the public site, and therefore available to both paying and non-paying members. This structure disincentivized its non-paying members to become paid members. By strategically increasing the amount and type of content behind a member login, we were able to increase the perceived value of the APhA membership.
Updated landing pages for key sections
Landing pages provide a jumping off point for users to get into sections of the site based on their interest area. As an example, we crafted landing pages for students and new practitioners, providing each with their own “home” within the site from which they could find content that relates to their budding careers.
Prominent login section on homepage
Increasing the size of the homepage login button was a small but strategic design decision to improve the perceived value of membership. And, as an added benefit, existing members could find the login button easier than on the previous site.
APhA now has a modern, easy to navigate website that demonstrates value to its association members on every page — both in front of and behind the login. Each visitor can easily navigate to the content relevant to him/her and is accessing it at higher rates than in previous years. The community as a whole is growing, and student engagement is up.
Our efforts have set the organization up for a successful future with continued membership growth and engagement. We look forward to watching APhA — and there digital presence — continue to grow in the years to come.
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