In the digital world we live in, associations are recognizing that a great digital presence is one of the best ways to attract new members. To grow your membership online, an association website must engage their online audience through informative online content and an engaging design aesthetic that stays true to the brand’s mission, vision, and core values. In this article we will share the features that make up the best association websites, as well as some awesome examples of the best association website designs to serve as inspiration for your next project.
What makes the best association website?
- A designated membership space to provide a sense of community and area for important news, events, and updates
- An easy to use payment platform to allow for new membership signups, renewals, event registrations, and donations
- A great CMS system that allows content administrators to easily update the association website and add new content regularly
- A website that provides a sense of trust through good performance, security, and simple navigation
- Responsive design that allows visitors to view services offered through a desktop, mobile, or tablet device
- Different types of content to engage their audience online through a blog, news section, or resource area
- Clear outline of member benefits
- Offering “call to action” areas throughout the website, such as “connect with a membership specialist” or “register for an event”
- Inclusion of value statements — competitive advantages, company mission and vision, description of company culture, and employee bios
A designated membership space to provide a sense of community and area for important news, events, and updates
Every association website should have a dedicated member space. This area will allow members to easily navigate an association website for important news, updates, or upcoming events that the association might be hosting. You also may want to consider including exclusive content or perks for your members as a way to show that you value the support of your members. You will want to have your membership area on your website password protected and highly secure so important payment details and personal information is protected for all members.
An easy-to-use payment platform to allow for new membership signups, renewals, event registrations, and donations
In our research the best association websites also integrate a great online payment system to make it easy for members and online visitors to pay membership fees, register for events, or donate to your organization. You will want your online payment system to be reliable, secure, and easy to use. Some online payment systems you may want to consider integrating into your association website might include:
- Apple pay
- Google pay
A great CMS system that allows content administrators to easily update the association website and add new content regularly
An association website should have a great CMS system integrated into it to give content administrators the ability to easily update or add new content to the website regularly. The CMS system will allow for front-end updates to the website to be made quickly in case there is an upcoming event or important membership announcement. It is also important that an association website be updated regularly with new content to keep current members engaged and attract new visitors to the website. With a great CMS system, new content can be uploaded or integration of an online blog can easily be added as a way to keep the website relevant.
Security and trust
Let’s start with the basics of user experience. Having an association website that performs well and is secure is more important than you think. Both performance and security actually affect search engine rankings, with less secure and poor performing websites being ranked lower by search engines. A website that loads around two seconds is considered well performing in search engine standards. In terms of security, make sure HTTPS is installed on your website for data protection purposes.
These elements also help create a sense of reliability, which has an overall impact on your brand image. You also want to make sure your website is easy to navigate so visitors can find information they are looking for fairly quickly.
Having a website design that is responsive across all devices is also considered an important component for the best association websites we reviewed- as it allows visitors to access the website from virtually any device. This can help an association grow their membership, increase event attendance, and improve online donations. Now more than ever, people rely on smartphones for browsing the web, and it can be frustrating if you have to zoom in and out to view website content if it is not optimized for smartphone use. This can also contribute to a high bounce rate due to frustration with the current user experience. Responsive design also is a factor in search engine rankings, with well optimized websites ranking higher in search results.
Clear outline of your membership benefits
When someone comes to your association website, you want it to be extremely clear as to what the benefits of your membership are if you want to grow your organization. This will help a new visitor determine what your brand’s mission and vision is, and how their support will have an impact on achieving these goals. This also prevents any wasted time searching your website for this information. Be sure to include your member benefits on a dedicated page of your website so it is easy to find online.
Association websites should also offer engaging content as a way to attract new visitors and keep current members engaged online. Not only does new content help in telling your brand’s story, but it will also serve as education on your industry and cause which can help increase your community and support online. So what types of content should you include in an association website? Below are a few examples:
- Blog posts: could discuss industry information, highlight specific members, or recap recent events
- Newsletter: keeps members or new visitors up to date on the current happenings in your space
- Resource section: could include different documents relating to your industry that members might find helpful
Call to action areas
To improve online conversion rates for your association, you should include “call to action” areas where visitors can further engage with your organization. For association websites, this could include buttons to “consult a membership specialist”, “register for an upcoming event”, or “donate online.” Inclusion of forms is another great way to improve conversion rates. These forms could have visitors enter contact information to maybe subscribe to an online newsletter as a way to keep them engaged with new updates, upcoming events, or ways to get involved.
Photography and video
Associations should include great imagery and other media to capture the attention of your visitors. Stock photography can look outdated and give less of a personal feel to your association website, which may give it a mainstream feel without personality. Instead, consider including imagery that will better personalize your association website, such as photos from recent events or of individual employees, maybe with a professional bio on their role at the association.
You want to keep your association’s online branding consistent throughout your website design. Keep your association’s logo, website color choices, and content presentation professional and consistent for the best impression online.
Inclusion of value statements
It is also important to consider including value statements within your association’s website design. Value statements help visitors understand your organization’s current mission and values. Below are a few examples of value statements you could include in your website design:
- Badges of any awards received
- Employee bios (Including industry experience and education)
- Statistics (That support your associations success such as donations received or organizational impact)
- Company culture (What does it look like to work for your association in terms of office life? This can be great for potential applicants for your organization)
- Company mission and vision statement (What does your association hope to accomplish? How has your membership grown? How does community support play a role in achieving these goals?)
Best association websites
Including these features in your association’s website design will help your website stand out from other similar organizations and attract visitors to your site. Below are a few examples of the best association website designs that embody these features: