The MFA is special. The state of Michigan has had a very tough go of it for much of the past decade or more, but their floral association has continued to thrive. With a passionate base of volunteers and supporters, and under the excellent professional management of Rod Crittenden and his team in Haslett MI, the Michigan Floral Association has, for example, one of the very best regional shows in the Flower Industry – the Great Lakes Floral Expo, an excellent program of training and accreditation, and more.
They also had a very good website but, on Christmas Eve, they unveiled an even better one. What makes the new site so good?
The new website is one of very few floral association websites that uses responsive design, meaning that it responds to the size of the display being used to view it. It looks and works great on a smartphone or a large widescreen monitor and everything in between. As the move to mobile continues this is important – websites need to look good on whatever devices people are using at that moment.
The MFA site includes a tool that lets the visitor search for member florists serving Michigan, you can even constrain your search to Certified florists. This kind of search is something other sites have tried but the MFA has implemented it better than most – it works, and works very well.
A nice practical touch – a page dedicated to the floral industry providers that have supported them over the years.
The MFA had their new association website designed and built in North America. That means that the money went to people that could then spend it locally, possibly even on flowers, supporting the local community and the flower industry. This stands in nice contrast to associations that urge consumers to shop locally but then send their own technical work overseas.
Unlike some associations the MFA website is set up in such a way that there are accessible, crawlable and indexable links to certified florist members and member shops, links that will help their own websites perform better in search.
You can register for events like the Great Lakes Floral Expo online - no more filling in and submitting forms.
Most of all the site is great because it shows that the MFA is serious about serving their member florists and the floral industry.
Over the last decade many regional associations have abandoned their own websites and moved to Facebook pages. It's understandable – running a website can be daunting, while setting up a Facebook page is very easy. And, since even an association with their own website also needs a Facebook page, why not just skip the website?
As some of these associations have found that is a slippery slope. First the website is abandoned for a Facebook page. Then the annual convention is scrapped. Soon there is very little left to define the association. As the association and benefits of membership become less tangible it becomes increasingly difficult to retain existing members, let alone sign new ones – accelerating the overall decline of the organization.
The MFA takes the exact opposite approach. They have led by striving to provide more, not less, to their members and their investment in this website is just one more example of that.