In 2021, having a sleek, user-friendly website is a requirement for any effective association, chamber of commerce, or other membership organization looking to expand its influence. A well-designed membership website can elevate your organization’s brand identity, engage members, and act as a lead magnet to grow your membership.
If you’re interested in creating or updating your organization’s website, you’ll need the help of a membership website builder to get the job done.
Your membership website builder is the platform you use to design your website and make updates and changes on an ongoing basis to meet your organization’s needs. Membership website builders provide the tools and features you need to quickly and easily implement changes until your site is optimized to engage and grow your membership base.
Here at MemberClicks, we work with administrators at professional and trade associations and chambers of commerce to help them take a more strategic approach to membership management to grow and retain members. We know how important it is to have a stylish, streamlined, modern membership website that draws visitors and boosts membership.
In this guide, we’ll review the features you should look for when selecting a membership website builder and the top options to consider. We’ll explore:
- Membership Website Builder FAQs
- Our Favorite Association Website Builder Recommendation
- Additional Top Membership Website Builders
Ready to learn more about membership website builders and what they can do for your organization? Let’s get started!
Membership Website Builder FAQs
What is a membership website?
A membership website is a website that caters to two audiences—current and prospective members. Prospective members can use the site to learn more about your organization while existing members can access members-only areas to interact with your organization and their fellow members.
A membership site offers basic information about an organization for prospective members, providing instructions about how to get involved, upcoming events, and other engagement opportunities to draw in curious visitors. But these sites also offer gated, exclusive content to members that require a login to access.
You can boost the value of your membership offerings when you use the members-only side of your website to provide exclusive opportunities such as members-only events, discussion forums, and directories. In exchange for their membership dues, members reap the benefits of full access to everything your site (and your organization) offers.
Your membership website can also act as a powerful networking tool that connects members with similar interests. Members can use the members-only features such as a directory, forums, messaging platforms, and more to reach out to others and build professional relationships that benefit their careers or future aspirations.
Lastly, membership websites act as valuable marketing tools to engage both current and prospective members. They provide the informational hub that both audiences use to find out more information about your organization’s activities. Because of this, your website is the platform on which you can tell your organization’s story to the world on your terms.
For a closer look at what an effective membership website looks like, check out this overview of well-designed chamber of commerce websites and this rundown of top association websites of the year. These websites were chosen as top options because they’re easy to navigate, welcome new members, offer member testimonials, and deploy beautiful, professional designs. You can use them for inspiration to design your own site.
For more information on creating your own website, download MemberClicks’ free membership website design guide.
What features should I look for in a website builder?
Your goal is to create a functional, robust website that drives new membership and engages current members. To complete this objective, you need a comprehensive membership website builder that comes equipped with powerful tools and resources at your fingertips.
Some website builders offer a bare-bones design platform, while others are fully equipped with many features to guide your website-building process. As you start the search for the best option for your organization, be sure to find a solution that offers these critical features:
- Integration with your membership management system: A combined solution that meshes your website and member management system saves you time and hassle, allowing you to avoid manually transferring data between systems.
- Design tools or support: To achieve the stunning, professional design look you’re going for, your website builder needs to have a robust design platform. If you’ve got a more experienced web designer on staff, search for an option that allows you to build pages and forms from scratch and integrate your Google Analytics account to access website analytics. If you’re a web design beginner, look for a provider that offers design support services, too.
- Members-only content: This feature is critical because it allows you to separate exclusive content from content that’s freely available to all visitors. Permissions should include distinctions between public and private content, member and non-member content, board member-only content, and other labels.
- Membership directory: Your website builder should be able to handle the creation and ongoing maintenance of a membership directory that brokers authentic member connections. This allows members to view one another’s basic contact information to enable networking opportunities.
These are the baseline, must-have features you should look for in your search for a membership website builder. Still, plenty of providers offer additional features that expand your web capabilities even further. We'll explore some of these options in later sections.
How much do membership website builders cost?
The price range for membership website builders varies depending on each provider and the level of features and functionality they offer. Some website builders are included in your association management software price or offered in a bundle along with other management solutions. Others offer plans that range from free to hundreds or thousands a year. Especially if you’re looking for a highly custom solution built out by a professional, the cost can reach the range of thousands of dollars.
Also, keep in mind that creating and maintaining a website doesn’t just include the cost of the builder platform or content management system (CMS) itself. You have to consider the following elements of your total website cost:
- Domain name: Your domain name is the web address of your organization’s website—what you’d type into the search bar to access the site. Some membership website builders allow you to purchase a domain name within their platform, or you can purchase one from a domain registrar like GoDaddy.
- Website hosting: Once you’ve created your website, it needs a place to “live” on the internet. A web hosting service allows you to rent space within a server and store your website’s pages and files, so it’s accessible to visitors. Most website builders offer different tiers of web hosting to serve clients’ unique needs.
- Design: Plenty of website builders offer templates to help get started with creating your site. But if you don’t have anyone on your team with a web design background, you’ll probably want to hire the help of a specialist to design your website so that it’s functional and professional.
- Membership plugin: If you’re using a website builder designed specifically for membership organizations, this feature will come built into the platform. But if you’re using a more generic website builder, you’ll have to invest in a membership-specific plugin to add membership management functionality.
- Payment processor: You’ll need a way to accept payments for membership dues, event registrations, merchandise, and more. Often, the costs associated with payment processors are just the transactional fees that accompany each payment.
Some organizations without web designers on staff prefer website builders that offer all these various elements in-house. In contrast, others take a more DIY approach to invest in several providers, building these elements to create the website from scratch.
Whatever your preference, read on for an overview of the top membership website builders available this year and the varying costs they require. This list offers a combination of association management systems with integrated CMS and more general website builders that cater to a wider range of organizations.
Our Favorite Association Website Builder Recommendation
There is an abundance of membership website builders available, but when it comes to features, functionality, and price, one option stands out as the top option: MemberClicks.
Overview of MemberClicks’ Membership Website Builder
When you invest in MemberClicks for your membership management solution, your website integrates seamlessly with your membership management system, allowing you to upload and update content easily. In addition, our experienced designers offer a helping hand throughout every step of the website development and design process.
MemberClicks’ robust membership website builder offers many features that allow your organization to:
- Create a stunning website with the help of a team of experts. Give your website credibility and professionalism by leaning on the advice of experienced designers.
- Build pages and forms from scratch based on your needs. Use forms to collect information from website visitors.
- Integrate Google Analytics to stay updated on on-site traffic metrics. Access a comprehensive dashboard of website analytics to gauge the effectiveness of various pages or strategies.
- Create distinctions between public and private content. Foster more excellent membership value by using gated content to deliver exclusive opportunities and resources.
- Display event details in an online calendar. Link directly to registration forms from this calendar to streamline the sign-up process for attendees.
- Foster member connections through a member directory. Give members access to valuable networking resources that can further their professional ambitions.
- Use the sponsored advertising tool to display and track sponsored ad engagement. Retain advertiser support with real-time analytics and proof of engagement.
- Perform organizational elections right within your website. Send surveys and collect results with reporting features.
These features permit users to manage content with ease and provide audience members with the information and resources they need. Also, clients value MemberClicks’ website builder for its ability to:
- Enhance their organization’s voice and brand recognition in the marketplace. A streamlined, highly professional website is a critical aspect of a powerful digital marketing strategy. MemberClicks gives organizations the ability to tell their story using a responsive, impressive website.
- Grow and engage membership. With both members-only content and public-facing content, you can appeal to new prospective members while strengthening relationships with current members through valuable content.
- Save time. The MemberClicks CMS platform is easy to use and offers features that make it easy for your team to make updates quickly and efficiently so that your members always have access to the latest information.
Clients also benefit from the guidance of the web design experts at MemberClicks. Our team helps you create a high-quality website even if you have little to no website design experience.
MemberClicks serves administrators and staff members at professional and trade associations, chambers of commerce, association management companies, and colleges and universities. Our platform is best for organizations that want to keep all of their membership management processes under one roof.
Annual subscriptions for most products start with a minimum $3,000 investment for the smallest organizations. Pricing structures and terms vary based on the solutions you choose. We offer valuable pricing incentives with Combined Solutions.
We also offer a free demo.
Additional Top Membership Website Builders
Of course, MemberClicks isn’t the only membership website builder available on the market today. There are plenty of options that run the gamut, from free, DIY platforms to membership organization-focused software providers that offer membership solutions built-in. Let’s take a closer look at a few more options.
Wild Apricot is another powerful membership management solution that features a website builder in its suite of software tools. This means your website integrates with your membership database and an email system to keep track of and communicate with members easily.
With Wild Apricot, organizations can:
- Create a new website using one of 12 mobile-responsive membership website themes. Customize your site to match your color and font preferences and use your own domain name to personalize your site.
- If you already have a website, use widgets to embed membership-specific features. You can keep using the platform you’re comfortable with, with the added benefits of membership management functionality.
- Easily update your website using a drag-and-drop designer. The interface is similar to other common programs like Microsoft Word, so you can make changes without an extensive web design background.
- Engage your community using blogs and forums. Add news articles or other multimedia updates to your website, so members stay up-to-date on the latest developments. Design members-only or board members-only areas to facilitate private discussions.
Associations, nonprofits, chambers of commerce, foundations and charities, clubs and sports clubs, and educational/training institutions all use Wild Apricot to create their membership websites.
The Wild Apricot limited plan is free, with the paid version starting at $48/month and scaling up depending on the number of contacts you have saved on the platform. The free plan does not include online payments, an online store, or apps, however. They also offer savings for multi-chapter accounts.
Morweb is a website builder for associations and nonprofits looking to create a mobile-optimized, streamlined site quickly and easily. They offer an extensive catalog of website features covering everything from on-site donations pages to built-in SEO tools.
Customers value Morweb for its:
- Drag and drop functionality allows you to make immediate changes without going through the back-end of the site.
- Image optimization that instantly converts larger images into mobile-friendly versions with a fast load time.
- Blogging engine that enables organizations to tell their stories in multimedia formats.
- Homepage image slider that rotates through powerful images that tell a story about each organization.
Morweb was created with nonprofits and associations in mind so that organizations of any shape and size can maximize their web presence. The platform was designed so that anyone, no matter their level of technical expertise, can dive in and start designing like a pro.
Plans start at $99/month for smaller organizations and can be paid monthly or annually. There’s a 5% discount for paying for an entire year upfront.
Squarespace is a website builder that all types of organizations and individuals use to create customized sites. They offer a “Member Area” feature for membership organizations to enable members-only content restrictions within their main site. You can either add Member Areas to an existing Squarespace site or build a new website by customizing one of their templates.
Top features of this website builder include:
- A platform to share online classes to engage members with valuable educational content.
- Community-building features such as email updates, shared event calendars, and group workshops.
- An integrated newsletter to manage subscriber lists and send updates all in one place.
- Templates that are designed for membership organizations and can be customized to fit any organization’s requirements.
This website builder is typically recommended for small businesses or individuals who don’t require a high degree of customization or features. However, it is possible to configure a Squarespace site for membership purposes because of the Member Areas plugin.
The Starter Plan is $9/month if you pay annually and $10/month if you pay monthly. Choosing an annual subscription can save organizations up to 13%.
IM Creator is a website builder that offers free, premium, and commercial accounts to appeal to the needs of both individuals and organizations of all sizes. This platform provides a wide variety of templates that can be customized in the drag-and-drop editor. Membership-specific widgets are required to configure an IM Creator website to handle membership management processes.
Top features of this website builder include:
- An easy, intuitive editing platform that doesn’t require any coding experience to get started.
- The ability to start small and scale up allows growing organizations to launch a smaller website and add complexity over time.
- Out-of-the-box SEO tools that help drive traffic to your site and boost engagements and conversions.
- Mix-and-match design features allow you to start with a pre-built set and pull different design elements together until you’ve achieved the desired look and feel of your site.
This website builder is for a varied audience of students, artists, nonprofits, enterprises, small businesses, and freelancers. The IM Creator membership plugin also opens this platform to associations, chambers of commerce, and other membership organizations.
Basic plans are free and paid options start at $8/month for a premium account.
Weebly is a free website builder that’s popular among small business owners and bloggers. Their templates and designers are geared toward small online businesses, entrepreneurs, and influencers, but membership organizations can just as easily design a winning website using this platform as well.
This website builder features tools such as:
- The drag and drop editor structure that small businesses and small-staff organizations cherish for its ease of use.
- The ability to add scrolling effects and engaging web design to make your site stand out.
- An image editor to create stunning, professional photos without having to leave your web builder.
- Site search functionality that helps visitors find exactly what they are looking for.
Weebly is helpful for organizations looking to take a more DIY approach to web design.
You can start with a free plan, or paid options start at $6/month for annual billing or $9/month for monthly billing.
SubHub is a dedicated membership website builder. Their templates are designed so that any membership organization or individual looking to create a membership program can create a website with exclusive content available to members for a fee. Their site features the various organizations who’ve created websites using their platform, ranging from news organizations to fitness communities to online learning providers.
Users appreciate SubHub for features like:
- Multiple membership tiers that provide different access levels to various member groups.
- Integrated payment processing using simple, convenient platforms such as PayPal and Stripe.
- Member community tools including a membership directory, event calendar, and social media integration to share opportunities and events with all members.
- Course creation features that enable organizations to create educational opportunities for members.
An excellent option for membership organizations looking for a platform that allows them to get started with all of the features they need quickly. However, it comes at a bit of a steeper price, making this a better option for organizations with a larger budget.
The Starter Plan is $47/month. Organizations can save 15% with an annual subscription.
They also offer a free 14-day trial.
WordPress is one of the most well-known website builders on the market today—in fact, 41% of all websites on the web have been built using the platform. WordPress is undoubtedly a dominant presence in the website builder space, with millions turning to the convenient medium to create their own sites. To design a membership-specific site, you will need to purchase a membership plugin.
The WordPress platform comes loaded with features such as:
- Hundreds of customizable themes, with new additions added every week.
- An intuitive interface that supports audio, video, and photos.
- Mobile and desktop apps so you can work on your website from anywhere.
- Built-in social sharing tools that make engaging with members easy.
Using a membership plugin such as MemberPress or s2Member, organizations can block off members-only content and create valuable resources such as learning courses or member forums. The widespread popularity of WordPress means there are a ton of educational resources and web design professionals who specialize in designing WordPress sites.
Getting started is free, but personal plans start at $4/month.
Wix is a highly user-friendly platform that offers free website templates for a wide range of organizations. They even provide an artificial design intelligence feature that can build an entire website for you—you only need to answer a few questions about what you’re looking for. Or, if you’ve already got an idea in mind, you can quickly start customizing a template without any need for additional coding.
The Wix website builder also includes these features:
- The ability to turn your website into a membership site by adding a members-only area.
- An online store where you can sell any merchandise or course offerings using their eCommerce platform.
- SEO tools that help boost your website in search results, captivating a wider audience with your message.
- A mobile editor makes it easy to view and edit the mobile version of your website to optimize it for all devices.
This website builder is best for membership organizations looking to boost profit using Wix’s eCommerce tools and apps. This is also a great option for those who desire a high degree of customization. Organizations looking for more guidance regarding web design can hire a designer using the Wix Marketplace.
The basic plan is $14/month. For organizations looking for more fantastic eCommerce features, the basic business plans start at $23/month.
While many know GoDaddy for its website domain register, it’s also been a leading website builder for many years. You can choose a template, design your site for free, and connect your custom domain. Because this is not a solution specifically built for membership organizations, you’ll need to add membership plugins such as MemberMouse or MemberPress.
Users also appreciate GoDaddy for the following features:
- 20+ theme filters to change your layout, colors, and fonts until your site matches your brand and organizational personality.
- Social media post creation using the Over app to engage and impress followers with a high-quality marketing campaign.
- Email marketing and campaign tracking to assess the effectiveness of your email outreach and adjust your strategy accordingly.
- The ability to accept and process payments using PayPal and Square.
GoDaddy is an effective website builder for associations, chambers, and other membership organizations looking to enable eCommerce features. It’s also easy to get started, with an intuitive interface and pre-built, professional templates.
The basic plan is $6.99/month, and prices go up to $17.49/month to enable eCommerce.
Drupal is an open-source CMS, which means that the code is publicly accessible—anyone can modify and distribute it as they see fit. The software is free to use for anyone, and it’s considered one of the most flexible website builders because of the high degree of customization possibilities. Because of its flexibility, you can use this platform to configure a membership site using a membership module.
Website creators value Drupal for features like:
- Advanced security features are enabled by ongoing maintenance and input from developers all over the world who continually test the system for vulnerabilities.
- Performance and scalability, with fast load times even for large sites that receive high traffic bursts.
- Accessibility features to create a site that’s accessible for everyone, allowing organizations to reach the broadest possible audience.
- Marketing automation to analyze leads and create drip campaigns that send targeted information to interested prospects.
Drupal is typically better suited for creating large, complex sites, and it requires a higher degree of technical expertise than other popular website builders like WordPress or MemberClicks. If your organization is interested in this platform, it’s worth looking into a designer or design firm that can help you construct and manage your site.
Drupal is free, but if you don’t have a web developer on staff, you’ll probably need to hire a design firm to help you bring your vision to life.
Similar to MemberClicks and Wild Apricot, Novi AMS offers association management software that comes equipped with a CMS to build a membership website. You can edit your site on the front-end with just a click and easily update navigation by adding or rearranging pages. Users appreciate this CMS for its manageable range of formatting options that offer a good variety without overwhelming web design beginners.
Novi AMS also offers features like:
- Members-only content to lock events, pages, or articles and make them available to just members.
- A MemberCompass dashboard that allows members to manage their profiles.
- The ability to feature content on the homepage to display essential updates front and center.
- A blog engine to facilitate news updates and keep members informed.
Novi AMS is an excellent option for associations that use QuickBooks as their accounting software.
Since Novi AMS is a full-fledged association management software solution, it comes at a higher price than a standalone website builder. Pricing starts at $650/month, billed annually, with a $2,095 onboarding fee.
ePly offers robust event management software that organizations use to host virtual, in-person or hybrid events. Beyond their event registration and promotion tools, organizations also use ePly to create branded microsites. Attendees visit these sites for everything from registration to event information and more.
The ePly platform also offers the following attractive features for organizations looking to host membership events:
- A native check-in app to simplify the process for attendees for your organization.
- A virtual event venue to host any virtual experiences such as conferences using a robust, dedicated platform.
- Email management tools such as segmentation features allow you to segment your audience and send relevant messages to each group or send mass messages to your entire audience.
- The ability to send post-event surveys to gain feedback and analyze your results, giving insight into improvements to make in the future.
ePly is ideal for associations and other membership organizations looking to take a strategic, cohesive approach to event management. This platform provides access to the information you need to create more effective data-driven marketing strategies.
ePly’s marketing website costs $500-$800 annually. Additional platforms such as a conference app or virtual event venue can cost up to $30,000 annually.
They also offer a free demo.
As you’ve read through this list, a few options should have stood out to you as attractive choices to build your organization’s website.
Remember, if you don’t feel equipped to design the site on your own or ask someone on your staff to take on this project, most of these choices include design help and support. You can also investigate options for bringing on a third-party developer who has experience with your chosen platform.
Lastly, as you carry out the website builder research process, don’t sell your organization short. While the variety of free options available may tempt you, these platforms or plans won’t always come with all the functionality and scalability you need as your organization grows. You may find it’s worth it to invest more resources into finding a quality website builder that helps you craft a powerful website that your organization can leverage to boost membership and influence.
If you’re just getting started with your website builder research, we’ve got plenty of additional resources for you to explore, including:
- The Top 10 Professional Association Websites in 2021: If you’ve been tasked with finding a website builder and creating the perfect website for your professional association, you might not know exactly where to start. Check out this article for inspiration and ideas.
- 10 Chamber of Commerce Websites to Inspire You: Similarly, if you’re working on bringing your chamber website to life, you might be looking for resources and sources of inspiration to model your website. Take a look at the top chamber of commerce websites to get some ideas.
- What is an AMS? Understanding Association Management Systems: If you’re interested in finding not only the best website builder for your organization but also the best management system, take a look at this overview of what association management systems are and what they can do for your organization.