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March 29, 2016

Tips for Building a Membership Driven Website

Author: Harry Casimir

You might be surprised by how many businesses we work with that are sustained solely by their members. Over time, they’ve built a following, and a correspondingly great website – in order to provide a valuable service to their membership, in exchange for some kind of fee.

Being that I’m in sales, I work with many organization and associations that are looking to advance their current membership website to appeal to their current members and to attract prospective members.  When developing and managing a membership driven website, there are so many different elements to consider and it’s important to note that membership driven websites have a greater level of complexity to them.

When building a membership driven website it’s important to take into account the needs/goals of your current members and prospective members while keeping a prominent focus on advocacy, education, and member interaction.

If you are in the process of revamping your membership driven website or if you are thinking about building a membership driven website, please keep the following tips in mind:

Is Your Membership Driven Website Easy-to-Navigate Through?

Lasting impressions are everything when it comes to a user’s experience.

An important element in creating a membership driven website is to ensure that your website is easy to navigate through from a user’s perspective. When designing and developing a member driven website it’s important to create consistent experiences across your entire website – focusing on the user.


Let’s take Military-Obit as an example, this website is a member-driven website that focuses on attracting members (Military Personnel) to the website with one call to action (CTA) – a one-time Military-Obit membership.

One of the major goals when building this site was to keep everything consistent and seamless as possible – always focusing on the prospective user. We kept everything consistent within the members account as well, so that the members can focus on creating, customizing and uploading their military obituary with ease.

A process that had to be as simple as 1-2-3. Here is a brief breakdown of what we did to keep the prospective user in mind when designing the site:

  1. Clean Navigation: Keep the road-map simple. Your users need to find what they are looking for right away (what information is readily available to them) and without getting lost along the way.
  2. User Friendly Interface: When people visit your site they need to be able to find what they’re looking for in less than three clicks (1-2-3). Make content easily accessible! What is it that you are offering? How does your membership website work? Why is it important to join or become a member?
  3. Professional Look: A professional design establishes credibility and makes your organization/association look more professional to those prospective members.  Establish yourself as an expert and you will start growing your membership base.
  4. Large, Legible Font: In the design world, fonts are a big deal and ensuring that your font is legible for your audience is paramount to your site’s success.
  5. Usable Forms: Limit the number of required fields required for sign-ups, the easier the process the happier the end user. Keep things SIMPLE!
  6. Drive Users to Desired Actions: First define your goals when creating a membership based website. What is it that you want your users to do? What are the steps that the “user” must take to get to that end goal? Make sure that you understand your audiences’ needs, wants, and motivations when driving users to desired actions. You can’t create a membership driven website until you fully understand who your audience is.

Remember that all your website’s elements need to be placed according to the way your users interact with the website, and information needs to be easy to find. 

Is Your Membership Driven Website An Informational Hub?

Typically, membership driven websites also require new members to “apply” if they meet the organizations requirements. Once you are accepted, there are specific member-only areas throughout the website.

The majority of membership driven websites provide members with educational content that is not only informative, but extremely valuable –something you only have access to view as a member, hence the reason why you pay to join.

People are always searching for reliable information and if you can provide your users with valuable content they will see the value in signing up for a membership.

In today’s digital world value-added content is king, so it’s important to ensure that your website is heavily content-based. Also, make sure that your membership driven website has a built in CMS, like WordPress or Orchard.

Remember, a membership/subscription driven website is all about creating a community of members, educating them, and then blowing them away with your ongoing, fresh, quality content.

Do You Provide An Interactive Membership Portal for Your Members?

An interactive membership portal is vital to keep your audience interested and engaged.

Can your community of members interact with each other? Can they collaborate together? Can they open up a discussion on a particular subject and/or issue? Can they upload content to your membership-driven website?

All of these questions are important when you are considering building a membership driven website. It’s important to provide your members with useful tools that promote engagement.

For example, if you have a membership-driven website that is geared to attract those users that are interested in organic gardening, you should provide interactive tools where users can upload their gardening projects and/or gardening questions.

When a user uploads their specific organic gardening project, all members have access to create a community wide discussion and/or share that project across multiple platforms. Now, it’s also just as important to have someone from your membership driven website that is always available to provide assistance, support, and be the go-to person that provides a solution/answer to those member questions that arise.

Plan Your Membership Driven Website with a Knowledgeable Web Development Agency, Atilus

There are so many components to a successful membership driven website. If you are in the process of planning to build your membership driven website, we can’t stress the importance of the planning stage. The planning stage is the most important aspect in ensuring your membership driven website is a success. Spend the majority of your time planning your project, scoping your project out, and mapping out all the different variables with a knowledgeable web development company.

In every project, including member driven websites we always recommend our clients go through a planning stage, before we start the design/development of the site. There are many components that organizations/associations miss when developing their membership driven website plan. We do offer a planning and consulting phase for those organizations/associations that would like professional assistance when planning out their membership driven website. In the end we want to make sure that your membership driven website is a success and you are seeing the results that you’ve envisioned.

To start planning your membership driven website with a seasoned professional, please contact me, the New Client Specialist here at Atilus. I’d be happy to talk through your project and make the best recommendation to ensure your member driven website is a success. If you have any questions regarding a member driven website please leave your questions in the comment field below and I’d be happy to provide you with an answer!

Harry Casimir

Harry Casimir is our CEO and co-founder. He specializes in all aspects of technology from hosting to server maintenance and provides overall strategic direction for our team.

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