Tax Executives Institute
Improving the user experience
About the Project
Tax Executives Institute (TEI) is the preeminent international association of business executives responsible for the tax affairs of their employers. TEI has nearly 7,000 members who represent 2,800 of the leading businesses in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Through TEI and its 56 Chapters worldwide, tax executives have access to the finest, most cost-effective tax training available; the camaraderie of their fellow tax professionals — who willingly share their insights, ideas, and experiences; and the ability to work collectively to improve tax policy and administration. TEI provides the ideal environment for the in-house tax professional to grow both personally and professionally.
A strong need to improve the user experience
TEI’s website was dated, and not easily accessible to its members or the public. Largely built in SharePoint, TEI struggled to customize the layout and navigation to their satisfaction.
TEI was looking for a new solution that would provide greater flexibility in delivering an enjoyable user experience to external users, and that was easy for internal administrators to configure.
TEI.org served as the digital hub, but did not integrate other platforms that managed conference pages, individual member accounts and chapter sites in a way that leveraged their overall technology investments.
TEI knew that the poor user experience for visitors was impacting returning visits, brand recognition, and an ability to engage members with compelling and relevant content. The volume of emails and phone calls from people looking for information impacted TEI’s overall efficiency.
A user-focused approach
Balance Interactive performed a series of user research tasks designed to better understand sponsors, members and potential members alike. We attended TEI conferences, performed one-on-one interviews with key stakeholders and gathered information to help us understand the role that TEI played in the greater marketplace and in the lives of individual members. Our findings resulted in some key themes:
- Chapter leaders crave more support in running their chapter business
- There is a value disconnect in the minds of rank and file members
- There is opportunity in the leadership path to attract emerging professionals
- The website contains a lot of information but lacks the right kind of information
- TEI sponsors present unique opportunities that members could benefit from
This information formed the underpinnings of a digital roadmap. The roadmap laid out four key steps – each step was paired with a set of recommendations.
STEP 1: Create a modern digital baseline
Drupal – HigherLogic – Abila. Balance Interactive knew that in order to build a solid digital foundation, TEI needed an extensible, configurable, proven content management system that could be modified to accommodate future needs. With this in mind, Balance Interactive recommended Drupal in combination with HigherLogic as the community platform as well as greater integration of their member management system with Abila NetForum.
Consistently communicate TEI’s brand and brand values through messaging, architecture, and visual design. TEI has many potential touchpoints, between the main website, chapter sites and individual events. Balance Interactive has significantly improved TEI’s brand consistency by working to create a consistent visual style, streamlined tools for contributors at all levels, and a more centralized architecture.
An intuitive site architecture and design. Balance Interactive uncovered a variety of challenges with content on the old site that have subsequently been improved. This includes:
- Improved member ability to store and retrieve documents, filed amicus briefs, and presentations after a conference.
- A central repository to store Chapter information.
- A more scannable Manual of Operations that reduces the number and frequency of emails and phone calls to the organization looking for the same information
- Streamlining and simplifying the membership process
STEP 2: Create greater connection in the minds of members between the value that the institute brings
Encourages networking and professional development. By creating opportunities for Chapters, Regions, Committees, and the Institute to connect through member-centric web capabilities, the new website improves the perceived value of the Institute to rank-and-file members, who have largely been accustomed to experiencing TEI’s pillars of advocacy, education and networking only at the chapter level.
Capitalize on Sponsor Content. TEI sponsors had relevant, authoritative and valuable information for members. Balance Interactive better enabled TEI sponsors to provide information to TEI members, thereby improving the value proposition of sponsorship and greater member benefits.. This improvement became a focus, partly because of Balance Interactive’s research that indicated users were searching for brand–specific keywords when they come to the site.
STEP 3: Better support chapter leadership and their need for more resources and network capabilities
- Multisite presence. TEI was not the first (or the last) organization to have a fractured digital presence, with individual chapters existing completely separately from the main organization’s website. With this in mind, Balance Interactive configured TEI’s Drupal installation to include multi-site functionality that enables individual chapter sites to quickly and easily be launched and populated, while maintaining greater brand consistency.
- Creates a seamless membership application process. Our user research indicated that potential members found the application process onerous. Balance Interactive was able to remove multiple barriers to that process. The result is a site that engages potential members, supports recruitment, and removes the burden from TEI staff, freeing them up to better support members in other ways.
- Improved membership approval process. On the back-end of that process, Balance Interactive implemented a new member approval process, moving away from a series of internal emails that burdened TEI staff and chapter leaders. Now maintained between Drupal and netFORUM - with a simple approval interface living in Drupal. This change lets staff process applications much easier and they can easily see where a person stands in the approval process at any time. In addition, the application automatically checks that potential members have met the membership requirements before allowing submission, checking years of employment and experience. This saves TEI staff time from having to deal with member applications that are incomplete or insufficient.
- Supports Chapter leadership needs for resources and networking. Part of Balance Interactive’s solution included an easy way to create and manage microsites for each chapter. The new platform provides greater operational support for individual chapters. This includes managing emails and registering members for events, communicating how CE credits are maintained and storing documentation.
- Members not in leadership positions have improved access to current information about regulatory developments around the world, have the ability to participate in advocacy projects that directly affect their business, and find opportunities to enhance their network or find a job at TEI.org.
STEP 4: Employ strong engagement strategies for existing members, enabling members to continuously see the benefits of their membership
- Empower members to establish relevancy through a personalized dashboard. Balance Interactive understood that the best way to connect members to the organization was by giving them tools to ensure that information that is most relevant to them is prominent. With this in mind, Balance Interactive developed a member dashboard that enables users to select their topic preferences. These preferences are reflected in various areas of the site, which strengthens member engagement with the site and the brand.
- Improved brand consistency. By establishing a more holistic, centralized solution for chapters, Balance Interactive and TEI were also able to establish much greater brand consistency throughout TEI’s digital presence. The website has become a source of marketing support for chapters through online pathways to useful, actionable resources. Such resources allow Chapter leadership to engage members and create a feeling of connectedness among members and to the Institute at large.
Balance Interactive leveraged the microsite capability built into Drupal 8 to enable the creation of microsite pages for each of TEI’s more than 50 chapters. We also created an interactive map to help members easily identify their geography-based chapter.