How to Build a Winning Website

Posted by Danielle Williams, Jun 02, 2014 0 comments

Danielle Williams Danielle Williams

Welcome to the “How to Build a Winning Website” blog salon – the first blog salon written entirely by Americans for the Arts staff!

I’m Danielle Williams, the Website & New Media Manager at Americans for the Arts.

You may not know this, but Americans for the Arts has quite a few websites. Aside from our “main website” (, we also manage:

This week we’re talking about – which re-launched “in beta” this past December.

The process took our staff nearly 2 years from start-to-finish, but we learned so much along the way! This blog salon is our way of sharing our tips, tricks, and advice with others who may be going through the same process.

Our previous website had been around since 2005, so by 2013, it was certainly time for a new one! But there were a lot of signs (other than the fact that our website was just plain old!) pointing us in the direction of an overhaul…

  • The site traffic wasn’t growing. Actually, since 2011, it had been decreasing. That year, our main website had over a million pageviews. By 2013, it was down to 700,000. (Spoiler alert: our new website just passed 860,000 pageviews in the first 5 months since launch!)
  • Our users (both internal and external) were telling us they had a hard time navigating our website and finding the content they needed (which, we think, likely contributed to the decreasing number of visitors).
  • Because our site had been built in 2005, there were limitations on what it could handle – and we found ourselves often creating time-consuming “band-aid” solutions because our site couldn’t function like newer sites could.

Sound familiar?

During this project, we’ve heard from many of our members and constituents who are experiencing the same issues with their organization’s websites. We hope that the blog posts you read this week are helpful and encouraging. To those of you who aren’t as familiar with the intricacies of websites, let this be a discussion-starter!

During this salon, you’ll learn about everything from analytics to audiences, content to collaboration, design to development, and quite a bit in between.

And you’ll hear from different members of our team who had a role in the success of our website: Kimberly Hedges (Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Technology), Joshua Jenkins (Website Coordinator), Raheem Dawodu (Website and New Media Associate), Caitlin Holland (Communications and Content Manager), and Elizabeth Van Fleet (Manager of Publications and Communication).

(…we’re very lucky at Americans for the Arts to have a robust Marketing, Communications and Technology Department as part of our 70-person staff. You can learn more about our staff setup on our website.)

To get you started for the week ahead, take this quiz to find out if you’re ready for a new website:


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