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Designing Your Member Areas

Designing Your Member Areas

Membership site retention starts with the way you design your membership areas and download pages. The keys to retention when designing your site include:


·         Professionalism

·         Usability

·         Consistency

·         Familiarity


Let’s go over each of these design factors and keys…


The first design factor that impacts your retention rate is professionalism.


The way you design your membership site is going to make a marked impression on your members. If that impression if a good one – if your site looks very professional – then you’ve just taken a big step towards retaining your new members.


Now let’s suppose your member areas don’t look very professional. Let’s suppose they look a bit amateurish and cheap. You know what happens? Now your members associate your membership content with the design of the site – and so they think your content itself is amateurish and cheap. As you might guess, if your customers think your membership content is junk then they aren’t going to stick around for too long!


The point is, make sure your membership area makes a great impression.


We’ll talk more about professionalism in this next section…


The second design factor that influences retention is usability.


Or to put it another way – is your membership site user-friendly? When people are able to easily consume your content, they’ll be happier members who’re more likely to remain members. Conversely, people who have troubles navigating your site may just cancel their membership out of frustration.


So, let’s make sure your site is user friendly.


The first thing is to make sure the navigation is intuitive. When someone is logging into your membership area for the first time, is it really easy for them to find the content they paid for? If they need to contact you, can they find your contact information easily? Or if they need some help, is it easy for them to find your help documentation?


You may think your site is usable, but then again you designed it – you may be a little too close to it to see if there are any usability issues. That’s why it’s a good idea to have two or three trusted third parties take a look at it. Ideally, recruit members of your niche to be beta users, and they can report problems back to you as well as suggestions for improvement.


Secondly, you’ll want to be sure the site is mobile friendly. Does it load fast? Do you have a responsive design that looks great across all devices? A lot of your members are likely to visit your membership on their phones, tablets or other small devices – and they’re not going to stick around if the membership site doesn’t look good on a small screen.


Third, be sure your overall design is professional and makes your content easy to read. Sometimes membership marketers try to design a “cutting edge” site that includes non-standard fonts, blinking animations and similar.


Forget all that. Instead of being cutting-edge, that sort of thing usually just makes your website difficult to read. And if it’s difficult to read and navigate, then people aren’t going to stick around over the long term.


As such, follow these tips:


·         Use standard fonts that are easy to read on a screen.

·         Use standard font sizes – when in doubt, go bigger rather than smaller.

·         Put dark fonts on white backgrounds – never the other way around.

·         Avoid autoplay media whenever possible.

·         Include captions or transcripts with audios and videos.

·         Optimize images so your site loads quickly.

·         Avoid bloated code, unnecessary scripts and similar that are just slowing your page speed down.


Above all, keep your page simple, clean and professional. Not only does this provide a good user experience, it also creates a great first impression when new prospects and members arrive on your site.


The third design factor that influences retention is consistency.


Every page of your membership site and every piece of content you create should create continuity and consistency. Someone should be able to glance at the design of this content and know that it comes from you. As the member goes from page to page on your membership site, the design should have consistency.


A big part of this has to do with your branding. You want to make sure to infuse your brand all throughout your member’s area. This sort of consistency helps build familiarity (which we’ll get to in a moment) and reduces confusion, which in turn reduces churn.


To that end, check the following:


·         Does your membership design include your brand’s colors throughout the site?


·         Does your membership design include your brand’s logo?


·         Is the overall design consistent throughout the site, from the sales page to the member’s area?


·         Does your design effectively convey your brand’s emotion?


Which brings us to a related point…


The fourth design factor that influences retention is familiarity.


When it comes to familiarity, we need to talk about a few different factors.


First, you need to consider your member’s niche expectations when they log into your site. Does your overall branding look and feel meet the expectations for people in the niche?


For example, let’s imagine you had a membership site on the topic of how to adopt a baby. Your niche is going to expect your branding – and your site design – to be very “soft.” The overall feeling conveyed by the brand would be something along the lines of love, joy, comfort, warmth, or something similar.


Now imagine instead if your branding for this baby-related site conveyed more of an aggressive feeling with a bold, black and red logo. Your audience wouldn’t expect that, and it gives people the wrong impression. In turn, it could affect your retention rate, as your particular audience wouldn’t feel comfortable on an aggressive site that was supposed to be about adopting a baby.


Now on the flip side, imagine that you have a “make money online” / business type membership site. And imagine that you use a very soft, loving brand – the kind you’d use for a baby related site. That wouldn’t fly either. Here too you’d be giving the wrong impression. And here too, it’s jarring enough that your members wouldn’t feel comfortable – like their needs weren’t going to be met by a site like this-- so they’re likely to leave.


The point is, make sure your branding and positioning matches your niche topic, and thus matches what your audience expects to see and feel when they’re engaged in the niche. And once you’ve nailed that overall feeling, then be sure it’s consistent throughout your membership site.


On a related note, be very careful about overhauling your site in a major way. If you decide to do a web design refresh for your membership site, then tweak it – but don’t completely overhaul it all at once. A complete overhaul messes with consistency and familiarity, which in turn can impact your retention rates.


Makes sense, right? Just think about how you’ve felt in the past when one of your favorite sites went through a major overhaul. It’s jarring. It may have even put you off from visiting that site as frequently. And while you likely got used to it in time, the initial “I don’t like this” feeling was definitely there.


Your audience is the same way. If you completely change the look and feel of your site, it’s going to feel jarring to your members. And since you have a paid membership site, some of your members may just cancel their memberships. That may seem extreme, but that sort of thing happens all the time.


Point is, you can change your membership site – just do it in small increments so that you don’t upset members who are very resistant to change.


Finally, when it comes to consistency, the other thing you’ll want to do is be sure your membership site has the pages and links your niche members expect to find, as well as your legal documentation.


Here are the pages, links and information to include:


·         Legal pages: This includes your terms of service and privacy policy pages. You’ll want to make sure your website is compliant with GDPR (general data protection regulations), where applicable.


·         Contact info: Be sure your Help Desk link or other contact info is easy to access and viewable on every page of your website.


·         Login / logout links: Your login links should also be on nearly every page of your website. For example, people who are visiting your home page should be able to easily find the login link.


·         Content delivery: When people first log into your membership site, it should be very easy for them to locate and download the content they’ve paid for.


·         Ads / sponsors: Here you can create a “Recommended Resources” section with related offers for your members. These could be your own offers, they could be affiliate offers, or you might even have sponsored offers inside your site.


·         Opportunities:  These are pages or links where you provide other opportunities to your members. For example, you might invite your members to become affiliates. Your pages would explain the benefits of this opportunity – such as listing commission rates – and then include a call to action for members to join your program.


Keep in mind that it’s important for your site as a whole as well as all of these individual pages to look very professional.

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