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UX best practices for membership website design

UX best practices for membership website design

In many ways, membership website design works in the same way as it does for other websites. Common elements like landing pages, CTAs, contact forms are all there, but what makes a website design for membership organisations different from other websites?

The main difference is that you have people returning to membership organisation websites on a daily or weekly basis for their membership community.

This presents membership website designers with a unique set of challenges; membership websites need to be designed to be interactive and to create a sense of community and contribution.

Website design for membership organisations needs to be highly interactive, and creating a rich and fulfilling user experience (UX) for your membership requires certain design solutions.

In this article, we have gathered a few UX best practices to keep in mind when designing your membership organisation’s website.

Establish goals for your membership website design

Good UX never happens by accident. It is the result of careful planning, analysis and testing, testing, and more testing.

Planning for the unique needs of your membership is different from planning for visitors to a blog, or shoppers to an e-commerce site. Membership website communities are more organic, and value comes from natural interactions rather than content or product promotion.

Typically, membership websites have two main goals: to promote membership and to make it easy to interact. With this, every part of your membership website design UX needs to revolve around these two things.

So what does this entail…?

Consider how users behave on your membership website

Humans can be unpredictable, and this can make managing member behaviour difficult.

Thankfully, there are 3 things that members tend to do fairly consistently: browse, search and contribute.

Let’s take a look at how you should incorporate these into your membership website design.

Browsing

Keeping your members happy is a core element to membership website design. Your members will always be looking for value in their membership and will constantly be asking, “Should I stay?” and “How long do I need to be here?”

If you are looking to provide value while giving members a chance to consistently return to your membership website, browsing is one of the best options.

Your membership website design should immediately guide members where they need to go and what they should look at.

When designing your membership organisation’s website for UX, consider elements such as:

  • Content previews with bold headlines
  • Thumbnail imagery
  • CTAs to help users browse
  • Clear access to additional content (categories, tags, archives)
  • Content in a variety of forms (forum threads, posts, articles, uploads, images, and so on.)

Searching

If your members aren’t browsing your membership website for general content, they will be searching for specific information. To help them along the way you will need to include functional, helpful and easy to use search tools to help them cut through irrelevant content.

In addition to a search bar, you should include search filters on your membership organisation website. Search filters should focus on content types, members, topics, and content dates to give a variety of search options for the best UX.

Contributing

One of the biggest value-adds of a membership website is member contribution. Unlike blogs, where interaction is limited to a like, share or comment, membership websites allow members more scope to contribute. Giving your members more options to contribute not only adds value to your membership organisation website, but it also helps to boot UX.

Good UX options for member contribution include:

  • Community forums
  • Content and forms that allows tagging other members
  • Sharing options for member photos and videos
  • Uploading member-generated content

The key for all of the above methods is that member engagement must be effortless. For membership website, UX designers need to include strong CTAs, prominent buttons and simple forms to allow users to input, review and publish easily.

Consider the UX of your membership website login pages

Another big difference between the UX for a membership organisation website and a regular site is the login pages.

Essentially, your membership website can be divided into two parts: before your members sign-in and after they sign-in.

Once a member logs in, your membership website will contain different content and features – such as access to a member dashboard or other content not available to normal website visitors – but the branding and general feel of the after-sign-in pages should be the same.

Here are some things to include in your before-signing-in pages:

  • Strong CTAs that invite users to join your membership organisation
  • Value propositions for non-members
  • CTAs and visual cues showing members where to log in
  • A community activity feed
  • Personalised content
  • Latest content
  • CTAs to register for events, download content, etc.
  • Notifications of events or community news

Consider the design of  member profiles

Another complicated part of membership website design is the member profiles. When designing members profiles, you should think of these as the member’s online identity, so what you allow them to include really matters.

A good profile page includes elements of the member’s online persona, such as an “about me” section, link to their personal website, contact info, photos and so on. You should also include a section of how each individual has contributed to the membership community.

When designing members profiles, consider the following:

  • Personal and professional affiliations
  • Privacy concerns
  • Photos and avatars
  • Badges and awards for engagement
  • Membership level listing
  • Functions for updating their own profiles
  • “Renew membership” CTAs
  • Links to newsletters and featured content
  • Forum topics or categories
  • Event and news notifications

The main goal of a good member profile is to showcase the individual member’s personality and achievements to other members, to improve overall engagement, and to serve as a place where updates and important information can be sent directly to the member.

In conclusion

Membership website design is much more about UX than it is about making the website look pretty.

While it is important to have strong design, you also need to focus on the design elements that are unique to membership websites. It is also best practice to focus on creating good UX for non-members before they sign-in, as well as for members after they sign-in.

If you get the UX right for your membership website design, your membership community will grow and be of increasing value to members and non-members alike.

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