Website Design for Membership Organizations

Jun 28 2021

Authored by - Dave Bezuidenhout Bjorn Thomson

Your members are the heart of your organization or association, and you want to serve them well. Therefore, you’re constantly creating fresh content, curating helpful resources, and providing access to a robust, up-to-date membership network. But depending on your field, you may also spend a lot of time keeping track of regulations that impact your members and ensuring certifications, testing, or licensing requirements are accurate. You’re also proactively scanning the horizon for changes to your industry so you can keep your constituents informed. 

Put simply? You’re navigating a complicated, quickly changing landscape, and you probably feel there aren’t enough hours in the day to keep up with it all. 

That’s why it’s so important to make your website work for you — and for your users. 

A well-designed website can streamline many of your systems and processes, empower members to find answers to questions on their own, and ensure that your content is accessible and smartly organized.

Here’s how Drupal — one of the leading, free, open source content management systems (CMS) in the world — can harness the potential of your website and help you reach your goals.

Seamlessly Manage Mandated Requirements (and More)

Whether you’re a government-mandated membership organization with the never-ending regulations that go with it, an association managing accreditations and credentialing for member-specific job roles, a hobbyist organization, or a Chamber of Business, one thing’s for sure — you have unique, sophisticated needs.

Drupal allows you to manage any level of complexity thanks to three key open source features: extensibility, flexibility, and scalability.

For example, say you need to offer a scored test to verify that members have completed a training module. This test needs to be accessible for people with varied learning needs.  As part of the training, members are required to upload documentation to prove they completed certain requirements. After they complete the test, results are posted to their account and automatically submitted to an outside credentialing body. After all steps are completed, members receive their certification. Here’s how the three features of an open source system support this process:


Extensibility offers you the ability to add features to your existing platform. In this example, extensibility supports the addition of a training module as well as the creation of the accompanying test. It also allows for easy communication with the outside credentialing body. And, although Drupal already meets core accessibility compliance standards, extensibility allows you to add features if you want to move beyond the minimum requirements.


Flexibility enables you to respond to changes in the world around you. For instance, members might need to upload documents from their desktop, tablet, or phone. Or they may need to submit uncommon file types. Flexibility allows you to respond to changes that arise in a quickly-evolving digital environment.


Scalability supports you as you grow. Maybe your membership types and numbers grow exponentially, driving traffic to levels you never expected. In keeping with the above example, perhaps you need to offer dozens or even hundreds of new training modules and accompanying tests. Or perhaps you want to expand your areas of speciality and need to add new content areas altogether. A scalable CMS provides a strong foundation to build on without needing to recreate the entire platform.

Segment Your Data to Communicate Effectively

One of the common frustrations that membership organizations experience is managing the large, unwieldy data sets that they have accumulated. 

For instance, prospective member data might live in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system like Salesforce. For this group, communication needs to be tailored around acquisition and the benefits of joining the organization. 

Meanwhile, email addresses might exist within an email platform or event module like Mailchimp or Eventbrite. Communication for this list might be very time-sensitive and special-event focused. Or perhaps it’s centered around providing important updates for existing members.

If the organization also has a charitable giving division, donor-specific data might be found within a fundraising database such as Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge. This group might receive customized information that includes their personal giving history and solicitations targeted to their interests and affinities.

Sounds complicated? It can be. But Drupal integrates with systems such as these to make communication much more straightforward. So if you want to segment messaging to constituents based on what they need to know — while also providing a way for them to opt in and out of various lists based on their preferences — Drupal makes it doable.

Make Content Accessible for Your Members

Your membership organization offers a treasure trove of content specific to your members’ interests and needs. But do they know what’s available to them? And — perhaps more saliently — can they find it?

Drupal is one of the best CMSs for content creation and governance. It allows you to customize your content library so your members can reap the full benefits of your association’s vast knowledge.

Publishing and Disseminating Content

Drupal is a flexible, powerful content publishing framework that makes it easy for you to create content, set workflows for internal reviews, publish your content, and distribute that content out to users. If multiple team members contribute content to your site, Drupal allows you to quickly delegate authority and ownership. You can even invite members into this process.

Disseminating content to members and stakeholders through emails, text messages, and notifications is simplified because Drupal smoothly integrates with whatever framework you use for mass communication.

Finding and Accessing Content

Membership organizations typically host a lot of content on their website. However, it can be challenging to make this information usable, keep it organized, and give users a positive experience by enabling them to find the content that matters most to them. Drupal helps alleviate these issues as follows:

  • Findability. Drupal gives you the ability to categorize, tag, and group content in ways that make sense to your members. Furthermore, it supports a robust internal search function that allows users to proactively look for content about a certain topic or area of expertise.
  • Manual curation. Membership organizations need to offer curated content that aligns with users’ specific needs. Drupal allows you to easily do this. For instance, you may want to create a top 10 list featuring the most viewed videos or articles about a particular subject. Or, you may want to provide a list of upcoming events that offer continuing education credits and further break down the events based on whether they are virtual or in-person. This is a snap thanks to Drupal’s manual curation options.
  • Subscriptions and permissions. Drupal also makes it easy for members to subscribe to content about a specific subject or to updates and announcements so that the information they receive is tailored to their distinct needs and interests.

Give Your Members the Value-Added Experience They Deserve

At the end of the day, you want to attract new members and retain the ones you have. To do this, you must create a website that serves your users’ unique needs. The right CMS should empower you to provide a value-added experience that will keep members coming back to your site and engaging with your organization, day after day and year after year.

You may find you need help from an experienced developer to help you imagine the possibilities for your organization’s website. If that’s the case, just reach out. We’d love to talk through your project requirements.

Learn from us
Sign up and receive our monthly insights directly in your inbox!

Subcribe to newsletter (no spam)