When it comes to inspiring potential members to join your association, an attractive and easy-to-use website is an essential component of the process. Your goal is to design a website that your members can navigate—and your team members can update—with ease.
An attractively designed website that is regularly updated with all of the most relevant content for your members is an excellent way to improve member engagement. Your website is a valuable resource for both current and potential members, so you’ll want to keep it up-to-date with recent news about your association and new engagement opportunities available to members.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which you can use your website to motivate both current and potential members to engage with your association. To get started, we recommend that you:
- Choose a user-friendly CMS.
- Integrate your website with your AMS.
- Customize your website to your association.
- Manage events through your website.
- Partner with a web design agency.
The foundational step in the process of creating an excellent website is choosing the right content management system (CMS). Ideally, your association is looking for a platform that’s both user-friendly and easy to update.
1. Choose a user-friendly CMS.
Whether your association is creating your first website or giving your existing site a makeover in an effort to attract new members, one of the first decisions you should consider is which CMS you want to use to build your site.
Look for a CMS that doesn’t require any technical knowledge or coding expertise to allow your team to create engaging web content for your members.
To get your new website up and running for your members, you’ll first need to get your association’s staff on board with the new platform. You’ll also want the resulting website to be easy for your members to navigate.
As you compare potential membership website builders for your association, make sure that you look for qualities such as:
- Ease of customization. When your platform is easy for your team members to use, you’ll be able to keep your association’s website updated with the information that is important to your members. Look for customizable templates and drag-and-drop editing features that make it easy to create a beautiful site without having web design experience.
- Features for your members. A CMS designed specifically for associations can help you maximize the use your website to provide valuable information to your members. Choose a CMS platform that facilitates the creation of a member directory so that members can connect with each other. You’ll also want to be able to create password-protected pages for members-only content such as internal resources or whitepapers.
- Responsive design. With more than 52% of all website traffic in 2018 coming from mobile, you’ll want a CMS platform with responsive website templates. Whether your members are visiting your site on their smartphones, tablets, or computers, they’ll always have access to your most recent content.
With a website that’s easy for both your association’s staff and members to use, you’ll keep everyone updated on your associations initiatives, service offerings or events. For a seamless experience, choose a CMS that allows you to integrate your new or refreshed site with your existing association management system.
2. Integrate your website with your AMS.
If you’re not using one already, consider implementing association management software (AMS) to gather information about your members, process memberships, and keep members informed about upcoming opportunities. Integrating your new website with your AMS will help save your team time and energy by automating many administrative tasks.
As your association prepares to select a CMS for your new or current website, look for a platform that offers API integration with your current AMS. This way, the two platforms can sync valuable information between them such as:
- Your members’ profiles. Top AMS platforms facilitate the creation of comprehensive member profiles containing their contact information, records of their involvement with your association, and additional information such as certifications they have earned. With integrated systems, updates to their profiles made on one platform will appear on the other automatically.
- Your existing members directory. This directory is essential to keep your members in contact with one another and can help newer members make valuable connections with more established ones. Integrating your AMS with your website will eliminate the need for dual entry. Any changes made to your members directory through your AMS will automatically reflect on your website.
- Membership management. Membership registration and renewals are two essential tasks for any association. An AMS can automate payment processing, saving your staff time from having to manually process memberships.
When your AMS and your website platform work together, your association will be able to free up time to focus on your mission and reach even larger networks of members.
The process of creating a positive member experience begins as soon as they visit your association’s website for the first time. Ensure that your website is customized to your association to build connections with your members from the start.
3. Customize your website to your association.
One of your website’s most important roles is that of a reliable and trustworthy source of information about your association. Members, especially newer ones, will be more enthusiastic about engaging with your association online when your website is highly customized.
This is one of the main reasons why it is so important to choose a CMS that your team is comfortable using. When your association’s logo undergoes a makeover, for instance, or when you want to draw attention to a big upcoming event, you’ll want to be able to reflect those updates across your website as soon as possible. Using a non-technical CMS, your team members will be able to make these changes quickly and easily.
In addition to a CMS that’s easy to use, your association should look for web design features such as:
- Templates with customizable branding options. Building your association’s brand recognition is especially important when it comes to attracting new members and getting them acquainted with your association once they join. Customizable website templates make it easy for your team to meet your association’s brand standards on your website.
- Social media integrations. Make it easy for current and potential members to connect with your association through social media. You’ll want to select a CMS that offers social media follow buttons, sharing options and embedded live feeds for your website.
- Add-on modules. Your members want to be able to collect the information they need and complete all necessary transactions on one central location. Add-on modules allow you to offer everything through your website without having to send your members to a third-party platform for transactions like event registration or member logins.
Once your association has chosen the right CMS to suit your needs, ensure that you have a good understanding of its features so that you can use them to their full potential. You can have a look at Morweb’s website design tips for more guidance on making an engaging website for your members.
If your association regularly hosts conferences and other events for members to attend, events management features can be an easy way for your team to manage everything from registration to ticket processing.
4. Manage events through your website.
Conferences and other events present an excellent opportunity for your association’s members to interact in person, share ideas, take part in professional development opportunities, and get to know new members.
Offering events through your website makes it easy for members to register and for your association to record their registration information.
Look for a CMS that offers an events page as one of its add-on modules. This way, members won’t be directed off your site to complete their registration. On-site registrations maintain trust with your members and makes the process more convenient for them. By choosing a CMS with events management capabilities, you’ll be able to:
- Accept online registrations. Your association will gather your members’ registration information and accept payment through your website. If you integrate your website with your AMS, you can collect more in-depth metrics about your members’ event participation
- Build excitement with event pages. You can spread the word about your event and increase attendance by creating an event page on your website. This page contains important information such as the agenda, location, activity schedule or even a live stream of the event.
- Promote upcoming events on your homepage. Your website’s homepage is often the first place your members will go to for updates about your association. Choose a CMS that allows you to show a preview of your upcoming events to drive current and potential members to your event pages and increase registrations.
Whether you’re hosting an event, offering opportunities for continued learning, or have news to share related to your association’s work, your members will feel most connected when you update your website regularly.
5. Partner with a web design agency.
Keeping your current and potential members up-to-date on your association’s work and upcoming events is one of the most important functions of your website. Choose a CMS platform that makes it easy for your association to update your site as often as needed to communicate exciting developments.
Your association can best accomplish routine updates by selecting an easy-to-use CMS, especially one that facilitates front-end editing of pages. If you’re planning a complete makeover for your website, however, you may want to consider partnering with a web design firm. They’ll help you:
- Determine your association’s goals for the redesign. What information, visuals, and additional display elements will best attract potential members to join your association? How can a redesign benefit your current members? A web design firm can help your association think through answers to these questions before you get started on your redesign.
- Find ways to improve user experience for you and your members. Your website
- should be a beneficial tool for everyone involved with your association. For you, it’s a convenient way to spread the word about upcoming opportunities, while for your members, it’s a central location for their engagement with your association. Work with your web design firm to improve the experience for both your members and your team.
- Turn your ideas into strategies. Your association’s team members know what you want to communicate to your members, but you may not be experts in creating a website that will do so effectively. A web design firm brings their expertise to your process, allowing you to create a website that’s right for your association’s needs.
If you think that partnering with a web design firm sounds like the right choice for your association, check our Morweb’s checklist of qualities to look for in a web design agency.
For potential members curious about your association as well as many of your current members, your website is their go-to source for information. Use your website to draw in new members and better serve your current ones by designing a site that they will enjoy visiting and your team will have no trouble updating with the latest content.
Murad Bushnaq, founder and CEO of Morad Media and Morweb, is a man of many hats. Since its inception in 2004, Murad has acted as Creative Director, Technologist and creative problem solver. He is dedicated to helping nonprofits and associations to grow their online presence with Morweb, a robust website platform and content management system.