Your association website is one of the most important aspects of your organization. It’s often the first point of contact between you and your members. Therefore, your website has to be easy to navigate and useful.
Encouraging engagement and regularly improving how your members use your website can seem daunting, but we’re here to help you stay on top of it. Here are eight design features to drive engagement on your association website for both members and non-members.
8 Essential Web Design Elements for Association Sites
Clear, intuitive navigation
Your association’s website navigation can make or break a member’s experience. Put yourself in the shoes of someone visiting your site for the first time, or visit other association websites. What do you look for first? Where do you look?
Include a banner at the top of your website with important pages for easy access. These pages will vary from association to association. Here are some good pages to start with:
- About your association
- Membership registration
- Members only section
Another important element is a search bar that allows visitors to find exactly what they’re looking for quickly and easily. With a clear website design that’s easy to interact with, members will have a great experience from joining to event registrations to renewal.
Simple but impactful design
Going hand in hand with clear navigation is a simple but impactful website design that prioritizes accessibility. Someone visiting your site for the first time should immediately get a sense of what your association is all about.
If there’s too much information cluttering the landing page, it can be hard for visitors to know where to look. You want to impart who you are, without overwhelming.
A streamlined membership application process
Attracting new members is an important part of any association. Your membership application process should be both easy to find and easy to complete.
Easy to find
Visitors to your association website should be able to easily learn how to become a member. Whether you have a “Join now” button or a link in your homepage banner, prospective members should know where to go at a glance.
Easy to use
Your membership application is the first step a visitor to your site will take to join your association. Therefore, it should be a simple and convenient process. A long and complicated application might turn away new members.
Give them information about their benefits, fees, and what they’ll need to fill out the form. The form should be easy enough to complete without a full page of instructions that they have to read through first.
Prominent calls to action across your association website
What do you want your website’s visitors to do? You don’t want a visitor to look at your homepage, read your “About us” page, and then leave. That’s where calls to action (CTAs) come in.
CTAs direct site visitors to where you’d like them to go and are an important part of increasing membership and engagement. They should be prominent on your association website.
Here are some examples of CTAs you can easily incorporate into your homepage and across your site:
- A button saying “Join now!” or “Donate!”
- An invitation to join a mailing list
- Links to social media, like “Follow us on Facebook”
- “Learn more” if you want to direct them to further information, or a path to the membership application process
A combination of effective CTAs and a simple membership application process can convert your casual site visitors into new members for your association.
An easy member login process
Current members should be able to login to their membership website easily. Consider looking at other sites for inspiration. Try to find the login button on streaming services, social media sites, or online stores. Where do these buttons tend to be? Where do you look first?
Put the “Members only” page or login at the top of your homepage and ensure that it’s easily accessible. This can be by the search bar or in the banner at the top beside your other important pages.
It should be easy for members to access their benefits, resources, and community, so your members have everything they need to remain members year after year.
Social media integrations
Social media has become the most common place for folks to get their information. So making sure you have a presence on social media and a link to it from your association website is a must!
Members aren’t likely to be checking your site everyday, but they’re probably on social media more often. If your news and information are on their social media feed, they’re more likely to see it and interact with it.
Helpful public-facing pages and resources
If someone is visiting your site for the first time, they should be able to learn about your association easily. An “About us” page is a great place for you to discuss your mission and how members can benefit from getting involved with your association.
“Our impact” is another page you could consider. This could have testimonials from your community, and reporting on your impact and events. This will help reach a broader audience and show non-members what you’re all about. And if they want to know more, you can never go wrong with a “Contact us” page.
Microsite capabilities for events
A microsite is a simplified extension of your main site. You should have CTAs on both your main site and microsite directing to each other.
Microsites have many uses, but are particularly useful for running events. You can have the information about an upcoming event on its own microsite. This prevents your main site from getting crowded and difficult to navigate.
On your microsite’s homepage, important information should be front and center. These are details like:
- Dates and location
- Keynote speakers
Avoid clutter on this main page. You can have extra pages with more detailed information like:
- A full schedule
- A complete list of speakers
- A map of the venue
Registration to an event should be easy to find and fill out, just like your membership application process. To make your event easy to navigate for members on the go, check out some mobile event app providers.
Why User Experience Matters for Association Websites
The user experience is important for all websites, but it’s even more important for association websites. Association websites must actively provide value to paying members, since it’s their dues that ensure the association can continue.
If members don’t feel like they’re getting enough out of their membership to your association, that’s a risk to your next renewal cycle. A streamlined and intuitive user experience minimizes the clutter standing between members and the value that your association seeks to provide them.
With prominent calls to action and an easy-to-use membership application process, you can turn those casual visitors into members.
Associations that haven’t paid serious attention to their websites in recent years would benefit from hiring or recruiting web design consultants. Additionally, consider taking advantage of association management software (AMS) that includes member-facing online tools and resources.
Remember, your site is often the first point of contact between your association and its members, as well as the public. Make sure it makes a good first impression!