5 Features For Your Professional Association’s Website

One of the most common questions we get from our clients is, “What should our association have on our website to engage members?”. The answer we give always takes them by surprise.

Before we can talk about the features you need for your professional association website, we need to understand the difference between your public-facing website and your membership site. That’s right. Two websites for two different audiences.

Lead Generation vs. Member Experience

Your website is your storefront to the world. It’s your main marketing engine to bring you leads for prospective members, partners, and sponsors. However it is not focused on member experience.

Your membership site, on the other hand, is your members-only space. Your membership site is where members interact with their member benefits. Moreover, this is where members can connect remotely with other members. Additionally, this is where they have a relationship with your association as a member of your organization.

Take a look at this graph to understand the difference between a website vs. a membership site:

membership site association civicrm

Public-Facing Website

This blog will offer feature suggestions for associations to include on your public-facing website. Before we can rattle off a list of the features to add to your website, we have to understand two things:

1. The Purpose of Your Website.
The reason why you invest time and money to maintain it. And most importantly, what role does your website have in your organization?

Your website is your association’s most accessible representative of your association. It’s where the world goes when it wants to learn about what your association does. How you support members, engage with the community, and strive to achieve your mission.

Visit Member Lounge to learn more about how you can ensure you have all of the features your members require! Anything that falls outside of this can likely be removed from your website… but more on that later!

2. Your Association’s Uniqueness.
Although there may be other associations doing similar things as you, your association is a world in itself. Your mission is unique and your member community is unique.

If you are not clear on what sets your association apart from your competitors or how your membership is unique, consider setting up a Website Redesign Workshop. Subsequently, this will help establish a brand identity members can rally around!

Since associations are not one-size-fits-all, it stands to reason that there is no single formula for how to create your public-facing website. This blog will review some of the key features for your association’s website in order to be successful. For more customized advice, book a call with us. 

Features You Need for Your Professional Association Website

1. Member Login Link
The link to the membership site should be easy to access and identify from your public website’s homepage. It should be accessible from all the web pages, ideally. For this reason, it is popular to have it in the top navigation barDo not send your members on a goose chase to find this link. This is bad for business.

Even for non-members, making it clear from the get-go that your association offers a unique experience for members is valuable. Create curiosity with your prospects about what is available for members only.

2. Invitation to Become a Member
This may seem obvious, but so often this is missing from association websites. True, you may offer users the opportunity to apply for membership, but no one wants to feel like an interloper in a closed group. Make your website a welcoming place. Invite people to join as a member. Use language like, “Become a member” and “Join us.”

To learn more about welcoming members, check out our Member Onboarding Webinar Recording.

3. Explain how Members Benefit from Membership
Your association does valuable work. Advocacy, education, events, content — amazing! However the members of the public benefit from your advocacy work and publicly available content. What do members get? Unless you are strictly appealing to people’s charitable sides, an association needs to articulate how members benefit from paying membership dues.

To learn more strategies to make purchasing membership the obvious choice, read our blog:5 Proven Ways to Increase Member Retention.

4. List Member Benefits

The resources your association makes available to members should be clearly listed and easily accessible from your website’s homepage. Moreover, the language you use to describe your benefits is important. Therefore, we work with our clients to move their language from internally focused to member-focused

To learn more about increasing interest in your benefits, join our Member Benefits Delivery Webinar

5. Lead Magnets
Not all visitors to your association’s website are ready to become a member on their first visit. Even when membership is free, trust has to be established.

To help you form a relationship with your website visitors, we need a way to find out who is visiting your site and who is potentially interested in joining as a member. Google Analytics and other tools can measure the volume and source of traffic to your website, but who exactly clicks on your site is unknown.

To connect with these people, we need to pepper your site with lead magnets. Furthermore, a lead magnet is a valuable piece of content that your prospective members are interested in. In exchange for the opportunity to access this content, they will give you their name and email to send it to them. Popular examples of lead magnets are downloadable information such as checklists, charts, reports, tips, etc.

Use an opt-in tool such as OptinMonster to add lead magnets to your site. This way, as prospective members and supporters browse your site, they can enter their email addresses to download content or have the content emailed to them.

Now you have a method of collecting the contact information of users on your site who were interested enough in your content, and trusted you enough, to provide their email addresses. Use their contact information well to follow up with them and build a relationship!

To learn more about lead magnets and how to position them on your website, join our User Journey Webinar.

Increase Lead Generation Guarantee

We guarantee that associations that make these changes will see an increase in prospective member lead generation from their website.

The one caveat is that your association has to lead with value. Specifically, your member benefits have to deliver on their promise to improve the lives of your members. Moreover, these feature suggestions for your homepage are icing on the cake, aiming to make lead generation easier and enhance the user journey for prospective members and existing members.

Membership Site Technical Support
Your current membership site may be easy for your team to update. Also, you may need more skilled third-party developers to help execute the work. You may not even have a membership site that is set up for member engagement!

Whatever the level your association’s team is at, we are here to offer member engagement strategy advice, a web development team, and life-changing member benefits. Also, we have tools that can deliver the necessary support to help engage your members!

Speak to an Engagement Strategist
Join us for a member-engagement webinar! ​


Farhad Khan, CEO

A tech entrepreneur specialized in creating membership websites for professional associations to increase member engagement. My background is as an engineer for Nortel and Ericsson. I started my own tech company in 2009 to help associations and nonprofits solve their challenges with my digital technology skills.