When looking at digital transformation in the membership space, there are inevitably challenges. Organisations in this sector face a number of complexities that can make tackling website projects feel daunting. These include but most definitely aren’t limited to multiple member types, complex integrations, accessibility and typically, an extremely large amount of content. 

In this article, we break down the common challenges membership organisations can expect to face, and how to overcome them to make your website project a success.  

1) Personalisation  

Personalisation sits at the centre of an optimised and engaging user experience. As such, it’s something usually featured highly on the requirement lists for membership organisations. However, what is sometimes overlooked is the importance of and complexity involved in defining your personalisation needs.   

When it comes to personalisation, it’s important to think about what’s appropriate for your audience, what will truly add value to your site and ensuring you avoid implementing personalisation for the sake of it. Various areas should be considered when it comes to personalisation including:  

  • Your objectives: Why are you adding personalisation to your website? What level of personalisation is critical to your business and what is simply a gimmick? 
  • Explicit versus implicit personalisation: Explicit personalisation means your users tell you what content they want, whereas implicit personalisation is based on assumptions about your users. We usually direct businesses towards explicit as it puts their users in control of the experience.  
  • Your CMS: Some personalisation functionality is expected as part of any website experience and you’ll find that, when making your CMS choice, the majority of platforms can support this. However, if you require bespoke personalisation capabilities, this will likely incur a higher cost and it’s important to understand what the ROI would be.  
  • Data privacy: The level of personalisation you are able to implement can be limited by the available data. Caution should be taken surrounding data privacy and how your audiences’ data is used to implement personalisation. You need to be clear about how the data is being used and processed to inform what you do online. 

2) Website architecture  

Many organisations make the mistake of basing their website structure on the internal structure they’re already familiar with instead of taking a user-first approach.  

Thinking from your business’ point of view instead of your users’ is unlikely to create an effective user journey for your audience. When it comes to membership organisations, you also have the added complexity of servicing multiple user groups. And that’s not just within different tiers of memberships, but also prospective members, trade and professional bodies, media/journalists and members of the public. 

Coupled with this is the huge wealth of historic resources and content that is typical of most membership organisations. But is this content relevant to your users today? It can be difficult to know what’s valuable to keep on your website, and what needs culling to ensure users can find the content they need with ease.  

Our solution is simple: define your key user groups, understand their behaviour, their journeys and how they want to access content. This will empower you to provide:

1. An information architecture that is simple and easy to navigate​.

2. Tools that support easy access to content such as faceted filtering, resource libraries, intuitive search alongside the ability for users to bookmark the content that they need to access regularly. ​ 

3) Accessibility and diversity  

In short, accessibility ensures members with disabilities can access the same information and acquire the same benefits as those without. This heavily comes down to the user interface and how your website is built to create an easy user experience for everyone.  

With organisations in the membership space, being accessible to every individual is imperative, with many even required to meet a particular standard as part of their business compliance. Examples of accessibility considerations include but are not limited to:  

  • Colour palettes: Consider how your brand colours are translated onsite and that text, links and interactive elements are still easy to see and engage with. We use a tool that allows us to compare a colour palette by producing a comparison grid to see how different colours used on the website such as the background, text, links and button colours are displayed. Awareness during the design process allows us to alter colour combinations to support the website in meeting the desired accessibility standards.  
  • Accessible language: Direct communication is always best but it’s important to acknowledge that internal language may not be accessible to your end users. During the research and discovery phase of your project, take the time to get to grips with who your audience is and the language they use so you can create content that resonates with them. It could also be worth using a recognised barometer such as the Flesch readability score to understand how easy your content is to read. This tool gives text a score between 1 and 100 with 100 being the highest readability score and therefore the easiest to read.   
  • Typography: Consider who your audience is and the typography that would best suit their needs. For example, an older audience may prefer a larger typography while a brand that favours a more sleek, minimalist design would likely opt for smaller text. It’s also important to consider how text is used such as the background colour the text is on, if it’s still readable when used over imagery alongside line and character spacing too.  
  • Alt-tags for imagery: Web accessibility requires onsite photos to be coded with alt-text that describes the image. This text is included so that screen readers can play the text to the visually impaired user so they can still understand what is on their screen and it doesn’t disrupt their user experience. It’s important that the alt-text effectively describes the image so take this into account when writing this copy.  
  • Clear and logical navigation: You need to consider individuals that use screen readers or other assistive technologies to navigate the website. Site navigation should be logical and seamless to allow users to access different areas of the site with ease. Messy code should be simplified during development to make it as easy as possible for assistive technology to tab through the site.   

Whether it’s typography options, variety of colours, tone of voice, branding or other design aspects, a skilled designer will be able to translate your brand online in an accessible way. What standard of accessibility you want to meet will impact your project timescales, deliverables and budget. Accessibility therefore must be a priority from the beginning and not an afterthought. 

4) Integrations 

A website rarely exists in silo and considering your website development project in this way can be a major barrier to overall project. This is particularly true of membership organisation websites where there are typically numerous third-party systems interacting with the website to support both the member and non-members’ experience.  

CRMs such as Microsoft Dynamics, third-party member portals, event booking systems, and learning management systems are usually factors that need to be considered. In fact, digital transformation in membership typically encompasses the overhaul of more than one of these systems which raises the additional challenge of tackling these projects together.  

Consideration as to how integrations between the website and any third party systems will be handled is needed. Considering the overall digital estate of your organisation is key to delivering the optimum user experience to your users. 

How can NetConstruct help? 

These are examples of some of the challenges you may face when it comes to your membership site. However, each business is unique and so are your challenges. Fortunately, we have experience working with many membership-based organisations such as London Chamber of Commerce, the Royal Geographical Society, the Institution of Structural Engineers, the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing among others.  We are also a recognised supplier of MemberWise, the UK's largest Membership professional network. 

Our ways of working are designed to uncover exactly what solution you need to succeed. A comprehensive research and discovery phase featuring multiple workshops that consider your business, your audience and your technology are included: 

  • Aims and Objectives Workshop
  • Remote Usability Reviews
  • UX and Strategy Workshops
  • Interviews and/or Focus Groups
  • Technology Reviews
  • Tree Testing, First Impression Testing

And more!

Taking what we’ve learnt, our team of experts can help you overcome each hurdle by creating a bespoke web solution tailored to your membership challenges. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to see how we can help your membership organisation.  


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