Transforming User Experience Online

The CLIENT

No matter the sport, one thing is constant. Behind each competitive match-up stand Athletic Equipment Managers ensuring the quality of all the athletes’ gear. And that gear ranges from items like knee pads and helmets to uniforms, balls, and bats – the list goes on.

With nothing less than the entire physical well-being of athletes at stake, Equipment Managers require specific knowledge and annual certification. They need a community that understands their unique responsibilities.

They can find all this and more through membership in the Athletic Equipment Managers Association (AEMA). The AEMA is a nationwide nonprofit organization with over one thousand members committed to the advancement, promotion, and education of Equipment Managers of all sports, at all levels.

The CHALLENGE

The AEMA knows that when they do a good job, athletes are safer. But in order to serve their members, they urgently needed a website that could accomplish their vast array of discrete tasks.

“We engaged CiTTA Partnership for a complete redesign and re-launch of our national website,” says Melisande Resendiz, former Vice President of the AEMA.

Among their needs was ensuring their aspiring and renewing members could register properly on the website, and that those trying to join would be securely vetted. The AEMA needed a website that could streamline the cumbersome manual processes of data gathering and processing payment of dues. And they required a backend that could allow AEMA staff to easily approve or disapprove member-level access to exclusive website content.

AEMA wanted to offer extensive member-only content on their website, including chat forums and an online repository where members could download necessary paperwork and learning materials. Members would also be able to retrieve their Continuing Education status reports and to take interactive tests online to earn credits required for their professional certification. And of course, AEMA wanted the website’s functionality to be matched by flawless design.

AEMA needed a web consultant who understood their website was so much more than an electronic postcard. And that’s why they turned to Phyllis Lee of CiTTA Partnership.

The CiTTA DIFFERENCE

“The most important thing to understand about any organization’s website is that it must be part of marketing, business planning, and a highly functional operational tool,” says Lee.

In order to truly get to the heart of operations for the AEMA, Lee didn’t begin her consulting behind the screen. Instead, she spent some time observing Equipment Managers at work.

“It’s crucial to see who I am building the website for,” she says. “Knowing who’s coming to the website and what they need it for is the advantage of observation, and it should be part of any web development process.”

The AEMA was impressed right away with what Lee brought to the table because of the edge she had from her holistic vision and observational insights. The CiTTA Difference included making recommendations on how to gather members’ information and implement data entry procedures that reduce human error. In order to protect the long-term integrity of the membership data, CiTTA also created web-based applications for AEMA staff to enter and manage data stored in a custom-designed relational database. The database supports not only the public functions of the new website but also administrative tools that allows volunteers from all over the United States to access the information they need.

With its new website, the AEMA can now serve members from nine districts at various levels of membership and certification status that must be renewed and monitored regularly. CiTTA delivered a highly customized website with secure applications tailored to address the needs of AEMA’s members, volunteers, and administrators.

“The result was a website that’s been well received by members, vendors, and the executive board alike,” says Resendiz. “They were consummate professionals, and Phyllis brought high-level skills in web design.”

What’s more, CiTTA was able to clear the hurdles of AEMA’s need to stand out from the crowd. For better or worse, the acronym AEMA is used by many organizations, and their previous website was not ranking on search engines. CiTTA designs every website with the latest SEO-tactics in mind.

“That was one of our main goals within the first year of launching the website,” says Lee. “We weren’t going to leave them in web obscurity. Now, when you type AEMA into Google, they are often the first, and always within the top three in the search result.”

Not only does the AEMA have top ranking, they’re operating with an optimal, streamlined, secure online membership database and a one-stop site that meets the ever-evolving needs of Equipment Managers across the country. They continue to engage Lee to monitor and update their website. As Resendiz says, “CiTTA went above and beyond what the initial contract called for, fully capturing our vision.”