How do you build a website that is valuable for your association? Focus on providing value to every visitor by addressing their pain points with well-informed and authentic content. Put more simply – build a website that is easy to use and offers great content for everyone.
Association website users will fall into two general categories: members or non-members. Each will come to your website with different needs, and in a scenario unique to associations, they will each be visiting different sections of the website; members accessing the gated info and non-members accessing the ungated portion. A valuable association website recognizes this divide and tailors content to each area while using UX to create a seamless experience whether they are logging in or signing up.
Providing Value to Non-Members with Ungated Content
When a non-member visits your site, your primary goal is getting them to become a member. Why should they become a member? That is what the ungated portion of your website must prove to them. The content on your website must be current and clearly delineate your member value proposition by answering any and all questions regarding membership while providing access to ungated information that demonstrates the purpose of becoming a member - more access to this valuable info. Plus, networking opportunities at member-only Association events looms large for potential members.
However, simply having this information present on your website is not enough. It must be easy to consume and the visitor should be actively guided through the various stages of becoming a member. This is where UX design comes into play. How your website is designed plays a colossal role in how users navigate your site and how they perceive the information they are reading. This is your opportunity to show potential members that you have the ability to offer meaningful information and that they won’t be frustrated every time they visit your website.
An important element of the ungated portion of your website is the signup form. This is the make-or-break point. A confusing or lengthy form will send users away in droves, similarly if there is information missing from the form and the user is unclear about what exactly they are signing up for. On the flip side a comprehensive yet easy to fill out form with a simplified process will increase the chance of a visitor joining your association. Do not underestimate the value of smart form design.
Providing Value to Members with Gated Content
When a member visits your website, your primary goal is to deliver on the membership value as promised. Retaining members is just as important as attracting new ones. Any resources included in membership should be well made, organized and easy to find. This includes simple registration for events and downloadable content when appropriate. The information included in this portion of the website should be more specific to meet the the concerns/needs of your members. Any related content should be properly linked to guide members seamlessly.
A dashboard is an excellent example of where smart UX provides added member value. A centralized location where members can easily review information regarding their account, consider upcoming events, and access billing is essential. The easier your website is for members to use, the more time they will spend on it, pushing up the perceived value and ultimately retaining members.
Membership websites comprise many elements that can be overwhelming to tackle, but a well-designed website is the best asset any association can have for both attracting and retaining members. Utilizing content and UX to create an informative and enjoyable experience for both members and nonmembers is critical to reaping the full value of your website.
Learn more about association web design and development in this case study of the Jewish Community Center Greater Vancouver.