In the past, people would have to call the customer service department in order to get information and take action in terms of their experience with the association. In this era of on demand and same-day delivery, members expect to be able to instantly get information, easily update member profiles and book conferences 24/7. This is where your association’s member portal comes into play.
There are two different models for integrating your association management system (AMS) into your website. While the most common is as a standalone member portal website, associations can also fully integrate their AMS into their websites. A standalone member portal may by the simplest solution to implement, but a fully integrated portal can create seamless member interactions for a better user experience.
The Standalone Member Portal
After you have worked with your AMS vendor to determine what information and components are relevant to your members, setting up a standalone member portal is a simple as providing the URL to your web team. Your team can then set up the hyperlinks on your main website wherever there is a function presented that needs this kind of integration.
For example, your association may host an entire event calendar on the main website and then provide a registration button that links to your member portal. Alternatively, if your event calendar is located in the member portal, users on the main website can click on the “Calendar of Events” menu item and be taken directly to the portal for further action.
This is a relatively easy solution to implement. It generally does not require a web developer’s involvement since your web team can set up the links provided by your AMS provider on the website.
The Fully Integrated Member Portal
Most modern AMS vendors offer a catalog of web parts that can be integrated into the context of an association’s website. Your AMS vendor, if they offer it, will provide a particular form, web part, widget or module depending on your website’s content management system (CMS).
Each item is specialized for a particular kind of interaction (i.e. member information updates, purchasing items online or event registration). These widgets are connected to the information within your AMS and can be placed on any page within a website. Since these are being placed into the overall context of your website, it is important that your website developer is involved in the implementation process from the beginning.
Your website developer is the one who has designed a content hierarchy and can identify where each particular web part belongs and how to make it fit within the context of all the other aspects of the website. In addition, your web developer’s knowledge of the CMS ensures that each part is placed properly and will work when users come to the website.
This approach to integrating an AMS and website makes for a more seamless user experience for members and a truly dynamic website. It also means your web development team has to take responsibility for the implementation, and tweak it as needed to make it work within the website.
Whether your association chooses the stand alone member portal or the integrated portal, you must consider how your members currently use your website and what self-service options will benefit them the most. By integrating member portal functionality within their website, associations can empower members to take control of their experience with the association—increasing member engagement and retention.