Questions to ask yourself before building a Membership website! (Part 1)by Katie Finnegan
in Building A Lead Focussed Website
In the last year, our Website Consultants at The Web Showroom have had considerably more leads enquiring about Membership websites than in previous years. When potential clients express interest in us developing a website involving Membership functionality our Website Consultants take the client's brief by asking detailed questions to fully scope out the client's specific site mission and technical expectations. When supplying the website brief clients come to us with varying degrees of detail, ranging from comprehensive specification documents to only generalised ideas of what they want their website to achieve.
With numerous types of Membership website functionality possible I would strongly recommend clients taking the time to think about some of the points below before engaging any website company in building their Membership site. It is vital for their chosen development company to gain a realistic grasp on what clients specifically want to achieve in order to maintain and fulfil expectations and timeframes for both parties.
Considering the questions below in advance of the briefing process will help create a stronger website brief to go to your developer with, therefore allowing the project to run as smoothly as possible from the outset. If you have a clear idea of what you would like your website to achieve, so will your Website Designer and Project Manager throughout the build. Having a clear idea of what you want to achieve from the beginning will save you money in the long run, as extra fees can be charged when a brief evolve or changes from the original brief quoted on.
If you want to build, run and maintain an effective Membership website here are some aspects of the site to start thinking about:
1. What is the website mission?
There are many different types of Membership sites, each with different objectives in mind. You need to carefully consider what is your website's aim or mission. Is the primary objective of the website to allow members to access secure information, populate information into a directory listing, buy whole sale products, join an organisation….or a combination or all of the above? Whether is be one of the objectives above or something completely different, it is important to carefully evaluate what your main reason for building a Member site is.
2. How do users obtain their Membership?
How will website users/Member accounts be incorporated into your website? Are potential Members buying a product, filling out a form or being extracted from an external database in order to become a Member or create an online account? For example, a medical association Membership site we developed utilised a pre-approval form submission that required an offline approval to grant new Members access to a secure product to purchase their Membership. There are many different ways this area can be configured but we needed to know up front what specific functionality was required by the client and what outcome was expected before developing the suitable solution. Some things to consider at the build stage will be what functionality is expected to be fulfilled offline and what is expected to be fulfilled online, as well as what aspects will be automated through the CMS and what will require manual activation.
3. Will there be multiple types of Memberships within one site?
It can become very tricky when there are multiple Membership types within one site. For example, a site many have a standard, student and senior Membership type…will all Memberships types require access to the same information? Can you upgrade from a student to a standard Membership? It is very important to detail your expectations for each Membership type and how they may interact with each other.
4. Do Memberships expire?
Are users going to be lifetime Members, expire after x amount of days, or do all Memberships expire on the same date every year (among other solutions). Here at TWS, we have experience in setting up websites in a variety of different ways but we do need to know at the beginning of a project what expectations and requirements are essential for your Membership site.
5. If Memberships expire, how are they renewed?
Many clients overlook consideration of the best renewal process for their Members, and whether they want to give clients direct access to review their Membership or not.
Membership sites can range from fairly simple to complex and involved, and each one unique in its required functionality. Next month I will share my final 4 questions to ask yourself before creating your membership website brief. Stay tuned….