As a veteran of a dozen years’ worth of website development projects, I knew enough back in 2017 to know not to take on another “new website” assignment lightly. But as EAB was becoming a standalone company a few years ago, we knew that it was high time to re-envision our approach to the web entirely.
Our old website had served us well for many years, but it was complex for us to manage, and, despite our best intentions, it was organized as much around our own products and services as it was around our members’ challenges. Worse, our members and clients told us that their online experience with eab.com felt very different than their in-person interactions with EAB staff: more impersonal, harder to navigate, less action-oriented. All that had to change.
Although website development is, in fact, a discipline where we have substantial internal expertise, we decided that it was important to benefit from external perspectives and skills. Accordingly, we retained several outside agencies, including Chicago-based One North, which led the strategy, architecture, and design, and 10up, which managed the build phase of the project.
From conception to our initial launch, the project has lasted more than two full years. Website projects always take far longer than anyone thinks they should, but part of the cause in this case was the sheer depth and breadth of EAB’s existing library. We had a dauntingly large store of events, studies, webconferences, blog posts, infographics, and insights, and part of our task was to evaluate, filter, and eventually synthesize our existing work to make it more accessible. (More on this later.) Along the way, we migrated thousands of individual content pieces: most accessible only to members of specific research forums.
In the end, we also decided to switch to a new website content management system, WordPress, to allow for future flexibility and enhancements. At the same time, we wanted to make it as easy as possible for people who were users of our old site to make the switch, so we kept usernames and passwords the same even as we moved to the new site.
A sampling of what’s new on the new site
One thing you may immediately notice atop the new website is a navigation scheme organized by topic. Though everyone’s mode of website exploration is different, our testing with users has suggested that a topic-based organization is most likely to help people find what they are looking for.
This topical orientation persists when members are logged in. In fact, logged-in members can customize their navigation bar for the topic they’re most interested in, to make it easy to find the most relevant resources.
Though topics have become more primary, we still retained the capability for users to explore the site from a product-centric orientation, by Research Forum or other EAB product as well, for those who prefer that view.
New features specifically for members
Beyond customized navigation, we also introduced a number of new and enhanced features for members on the new site.
- A “myEAB” dashboard that flags you on new and noteworthy content in your areas of interest
- Direct links to your EAB service team from the dashboard
- A “Picks Just for You” section of the dashboard where your Strategic Leader can flag relevant content you should see
- A free trial access feature to allow you to explore content from outside your membership portfolio
- An authentiction feature called “soft login,” which allows a registered user to log into their account by clicking on an EAB email such as the Daily Briefing or a membership update.
Tools for better reading
Knowing that so much of what we all do on websites is to read, we adapted some current web trends in reading tools to provide a better experience for everyone who visits the site. For example, you may have noticed, atop this page, an estimate of reading time, based on page length and average speed. In addition, as you scroll down a content piece, a discrete horizontal bar at the top of the page extends to tell you how much of the page you’ve read. We also enhanced the “save and share” functionality across the site, to make it easy to mark a resource as a favorite or to send it to a colleague.