Adding a membership system to your WordPress site can be a great way to create a community and provide value to members, whether in the form of premium content or access to exclusive products and services.
When redesigning a WordPress membership site, it’s important to take all the necessary steps to ease the transition for your community members. Without these steps, the redesign could easily cause challenges with membership renewals, support, and integrations.
There are many WordPress membership plugins and paid platforms from MemberPress, WooCommerce membership to Paid Membership Pro (to name a few). But no matter which plugin you are using now or switching to, these 5 tips below will help you create an effective new WordPress membership site.
5 Tips on Redesigning a Membership Site
1) Strategize the Best Membership Tiers
There are lots of different reasons for adding a membership system to your website. Non-profit organizations and associations may utilize membership plans to organize their association members, offer gated resources and even collect annual dues.
A business may offer a paid membership plan to give users access to exclusive content. There are also even more complex sites which utilize WooCommerce subscriptions to sell monthly paid subscription plans for ongoing services.
Before building or redesigning a WordPress membership site, strategize what kind of memberships you’ll be offering and how those match up with both your members’ needs and your organization’s goals.
Will you offer a free membership option or paid membership plans? Will there be multiple membership tiers? For paid membership plans, you’ll need to utilize a payment gateway to process payments on the site and may have more functionality requirements for recurring payments.
Lastly, you’ll need to decide if a membership will eventually expire and if so, establish how members will renew their plan.
All of these considerations will impact whether your existing membership plugin and system is the best fit or not; it may be time to move to a new one. They will also help you to assess which key pages you’ll need to focus on in the redesign.
2) Optimize the Membership Sign-Up Process
Once you’ve decided on your membership offerings, it’s time to strategize how the membership plan fits into the rest of your new site and how it relates to your conversion goals.
If gaining new members is an important goal of the site, writing strong calls to action throughout the site will guide visitors to the membership information and sign-up process. Signing up for a membership plan can be a bigger “ask” of web visitors than contacting your team, so the site should have enough information about the membership options to convey all of the value.
You’ll typically set up a dedicated membership page where you can explain the benefits of membership and how to sign up. If you plan to offer different paid membership tiers, you’ll likely be able to set up a nice pricing page via your membership plugin, as most of them offer this feature.
One factor to keep in mind that can affect the membership sign up process is membership authorization. If members need to be approved by your organization before receiving an account on the site, you’ll typically be able to set up an automated process with your selected membership plugin which notifies an administrator of new member applications.
No matter what the requirements of your membership site are, make the sign up process as easy as possible. While you may need to collect more information about a new member than a simple contact form would provide, keep the number of form fields in the member application process as minimal as possible. Long website forms are a classic deterrent to conversions.
You’ll also want to create a high-quality welcome page using the latest web design trends. This page is practically a second home page and helps members find all of the amazing benefits and resources that have been promised by your organization or business.
3) Plan for Data Migration and Integrations
Migrating existing member data can be one of the most common challenges with redesigning a membership site.
If you are redesigning an existing membership site that is not built on WordPress, you’ll need to scope out how to export and import all existing member data into the new site. In this scenario, you may not be able to carry over the member’s current username and password, which means all members will have to reset their password with the launch of the new site.
Even if you are redesigning an existing WordPress membership site, you’ll need to map the existing membership structure to any changes and features in the new site. If you are continuing to use the same membership plugin with the redesign, you may have a smoother process. No matter what, you’ll still need to plan to migrate over some member data when launching the new site in order to carry over any members that have signed up while the new website was built.
Planning for all of these factors at the beginning of the project will reduce any hiccups that could occur with the launch of the new site.
When moving over membership data, you also need to consider the renewal process and make sure automated renewals or email notifications are all properly in place on the new site.
Integrations with email marketing providers and CRMs can also pose some additional development work. While some email notifications can be scheduled from the WordPress dashboard and membership plugin, it’s not a good practice to send mass email campaigns through the WordPress site. An email marketing system like Mailchimp or Constant Contact is a better resource for sending email campaigns to existing members.
4) Adhere to Security and Data Privacy Protocols
While security is a critical factor for all WordPress sites, it’s especially important for a membership site where you’ll be storing data for users.
Web security is also a basic trust symbol for visitors and any security compromises can undermine conversions and new member sign-ups. Some best practices for WordPress security include an SSL certificate, secured hosting, daily backups and a security monitoring service on the site.
Some membership sites also allow members to have front-end editing abilities, so that they can update a profile on the site or post content in a forum area. It’s helpful to encourage all users to follow security protocols including creating strong passwords and monitoring unauthorized access to their accounts.
If you are processing payments on the site, then you’ll also need to comply with PCI compliance guidelines, which have been established to secure credit card processing online.
5) Provide Member Support & Engagement
Membership support is a commonly forgotten aspect of a new site. Even if you’re already planning for ongoing support and maintenance for the new site, remember that your members will need support too.
You can expect to receive questions and support requests from members about resetting their password, renewing their membership, payment refunds and cancellation requests, among other things.
During the redesign, plan ahead and set up a detailed FAQ page within the membership section of the site. As a membership site gets larger and you have an increasing number of users, you may need to invest in a customer support team and call answering service to handle incoming questions and issues.
You can also avoid an onslaught of membership questions at the launch of the new site by sending out email campaigns and updates about changes to the site and any steps that your members may need to take in regards to data migration. As previously mentioned, if you’ve had to migrate data between different membership systems, you may need all existing members to reset their password. To ensure all users are able to access the new site, you’ll need to provide clear step-by-step instructions on how to do so.
Lastly, a successful membership site is not only about encouraging new sign-ups and support users, but also about providing ongoing value for that level of membership access. Even if you are offering free memberships, your goal will be to retain the community and help it grow by constantly engaging existing users with new content, resources and added value.