Insight | 03 March 2021

How to make the UX of your membership site as member-centric as possible

Nichola Hudson 800

Nichola Hudson

Product Designer

Tags: UX/CX

Chalk board with members only on it

Membership organisations exist to serve their members but does this always translate on digital platforms? Having a member-centric approach to the UX of your site means you’ll always have your members at the heart of their online journey, increasing your attraction and retention rates.

What is member-centric UX and why is it important for a membership organisation?

Having a member-first approach is essential for a membership organisation. You need to grow, engage and retain members, often spanning generations, so making sure your proposition and digital platforms are relevant to each audience is essential. It’s never been more important that membership organisations’ online presence gives their members what they expect, especially now that the first wholly digital native generation- Generation Z is entering the employment market and turning to professional bodies. Indeed, the biggest challenge for membership organisations is connecting with Generation Z.

And this is where having a member-centric UX (user experience) comes in. Member-centric UX puts the users at the centre of design and development. It focuses the designer to look at the real users’ needs, taking a step back from making it ‘pretty’ and concentrating on solving your users’ problems. The goal should be to produce a site that is fully optimised for your members and their needs.

Members buy into your brand and can feel incredibly invested. You want your members to feel like royalty, reassuring them that they’ve made the right decision and encouraging them to stay. Really exploring your members' wants and needs will help you to build a website that caters to this and in turn will help your company to achieve its business goals.

Below are some simple areas to concentrate on improving to help with the UX of your membership organisation site, guaranteeing that your members’ needs are met and they have an exceptional digital experience.

Information

Telling your members what you have to offer as a membership organisation and what your brand is about is key to your growth. At the start of a prospective member’s journey they’re in the information gathering stage. This is where you need to inform the user as much as possible about what your brand stands for and about the benefits they’ll get as a member.

By researching your user journeys and identifying key touch points, you can plot what information to give at each key point. One of the key touch points of a user is the homepage. The homepage is the window into your brand, often the first page that your prospective member will see. Here you need to give the right information and guide the user to the next point in their journey.

One site that does this well is the Woodland Trust. The Woodland Trust’s homepage is a great example of informing a user about them as a brand. As you land on the page and scroll you’re shown three points about them: ‘We plant’, ‘We protect’ and ‘We restore’. Short and simple with a CTA to read more. This is then followed up by a stats section backing up these statements. The user is informed about the brand and impressed by their stats so wants to read more and get involved.

Screen shot of the Woodland Trust's homepage design

The Woodland Trust’s brand information is plain to see

Some users may enter the site via a Google search and land on an article page, for example, so consider this in your users’ journey and how you can offer multiple information touch points, engaging and signposting a prospective member to the direction you want to take them in.

Types of information to consider on these pages are:

  • The benefits a member will receive
  • What does your brand stand for? Your vision, mission and values.
  • How much does membership cost and are there different levels of membership?
  • What's the process of joining?
  • How long will it take to become a member?
  • Can I talk to someone?
  • How long does the membership last for?

Making it easy for a prospective member to get in touch will help in the information gathering stage and help them make an informed decision and proceed to the join us process.

The join us process

No one wants to sit in front of a screen going through a long, boring registration form, after all, the average human attention span is now less than a goldfish’s. You want to make this process as simple and as easy for the user as possible. A long or slow sign up, having to answer multiple questions, can increase the bounce rate on your page and lose the attention of your user.

It’s easy to over complicate this process so thinking about how you can streamline and make it as pain free as possible will help to keep the user engaged and reach the final point of the form, the payment part, which is your ultimate conversion.

Two great examples of how to make forms easy to use are the Royal College of Nursing’s registration process and moneysupermarket.com’s form styling.

The Royal College of Nursing is a great example of a membership organisation really understanding their users and how to help make the registration process much easier. The ‘Help me choose’ section in particular is a great way to support your users through the registration process. Using a wizard asking short simple questions that directs the user down the correct path for their needs really makes them feel looked after.

Screen shot of the Nursing & Midwifery Council's registration wizard

The Royal College od Nursing’s site uses a wizard to point users in the right direction

moneysupermarket.com is a great example of long forms made simple and easy to use. With its clean and clear layout and attractive styling it makes filling out the form less painful and dare I say it… almost enjoyable? All in all, it’s a great combination of good UX and a carefully considered UI.

Screen shot of moneysupermarket.com's long form

moneysupermarket.com’s form styling makes an arduous process as pain free as possible

It’s important when researching the registration process to look further afield than your own sector. Just researching membership organisations means that you might miss a good idea, in this case from moneysupermarket.com.

Below is a short list of suggestions and things to think about when creating a registration process:

  • Are all the questions required? Could some of these be answered after the join us process?
  • Are there ways that you can help your user to find the correct membership for them?
  • Think about a simple UI that helps keeps the user attention without increasing the cognitive load.
  • Using steps can help to break down a form and make it more manageable for a user to process the information.
  • Indicate the length of the process with a progress bar so the user has an idea of how long it’s going to take.
  • Can the user save and continue the process at a later date?
  • A quick, simple and secure payment process.
  • Access to the site instantly - the last thing a user wants is to go through the join us process and have to wait a couple of days to be able to access member information.

Members area

Once a member has completed the registration process it’s the members area’s time to shine. You want your member to feel special and a part of your brand – the members area is where you can do this. It’s a hub for your members where they can keep informed on any relevant updates, be the first to know about any upcoming events, have access to exclusive content and lots more benefits.

That being said it’s important not to forget about your non-members’ journey. You want to attract new members and a way to do this is add value by giving away some content for free, so they can see the benefit of joining. Often this content is ‘gated’ – meaning the user needs to supply some contact details before being able to download the content. But beware of creating too many ‘content gates’ as you can alienate your non-members. Think about giving non-members free content that’s not gated as a taste of what they could get as a member and to encourage them to sign-up.

The members area is where you can really start to target your members and cater to each individual user with personalised content. Personalised content can be a great way to make your members feel special, greeting them with a first name, suggesting content relating to their interests and lots more. Not only are you reinforcing to your members that they are special with content tailored to them but you’re also keeping them engaged with content specific to their interests.

To find out more about how to make your digital platforms as member-centric as possible head over here where you can download our Member Journey Mapping Tool for free.