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About once a week, I have a conversation with a customer who tells me they, by choice or necessity, need to take the plunge into offering content online. And it’s not uncommon for their strategy to begin and end with that need; other than knowing that they have to get online, they have little understanding of the rest of the complexities involved.

With tablet and smartphone sales eclipsing desktop computer sales, it’s clear that more and more people expect to access your valuable content, no matter where they are. We’re living in the digital renaissance now. Overcoming inertia and following through with an online strategy has never been more important. But where do you begin?

First, think about your audience. Why are they using your content? How will they most likely access it? Do you have a standards book that people need to quickly search in order to find answers while in the field? Or do you have conference proceedings that members want to browse when deciding whether to attend your event? Or both? Will your users want to be able to easily share interesting content with their peers? No matter what the answers, how your users want to interact with your content will have a big impact on how you’ll decide to deliver it. For example, if you expect a sizable amount of mobile device usage, consider offering your website with responsive design and/or available as a complementary mobile app.

Next, think about your own objectives. Though I think a good user experience should always be your first objective, you probably have your own reasons to do this, too. Are you interested in offering access control so only members can see your content, based on their membership status in your association management system? Would you like to use an eCommerce solution so people can purchase subscription access to your entire site, or even individual documents? Do you want to offer free downloads of your training materials, but discourage unauthorized distribution with watermarking or other DRM methods? Besides making sure users can find the content easily, our customers are primarily concerned with deriving member value and revenue from their valuable materials, as well as making sure that they attract new people to their organization.

Finally, think about the content you produce every year. Do you frequently produce newsletters? If so, you’ll need to be able to upload new material to your site on a regular basis. Are you the primary resource for the latest laws around your industry? Then you’ll need to be able to update your documents quickly and easily so your members have up-to-date information. Do you want to combine all of your association content onto one online system: your publications, magazines, training materials, and conference abstracts? Do you have the analytics to determine your ROI when you’re delivering all of this to your users?

Omnipress started printing for associations over 35 years ago; in the early ‘90s, we took the lead in offering digital content. We’ve helped hundreds of customers make the transition to a digital delivery. Even in our own online evolution to digital publishing platforms and mobile apps, we have learned that the first step is often the hardest one to take. Let us partner with you to answer these questions and we can take that next step together to find the best solution to move your content online. Over the next few months, we’ll explore these topics in more detail. Until then, let us know how you’re implementing your online strategy in the comments below.