11 Steps to Membership Management Success – Create Your Website

Step 5 - Create Your Website

Step 5 – Create Your Website


Now that you’ve selected a theme and created a few page templates, you can use start to create your organization’s website pages.

Based on several Wild Apricot customers we have worked with, we recommend making pages in parallel with the master file import process. Setting up access control for website pages depends on the database configuration that is defined during database configuration and populated during the master file import, so it is good idea to work on this step and the import together.  This is where the rubber hits the road and you can see how the website interacts with the Wild Apricot database closely.

Page Template Management

If you want to reassign a page template to one or more pages, you’ll need to do this individually for each page – so wait until you have your page templates set up, before starting to create additional pages based on existing page templates.

The most common way to make page templates is to duplicate existing page templates you are happy with and make alterations to the duplicate page templates for a specific purpose such as a section of pages. A good way to start to design your website is to first create your top-level pages and one sub-page, assigning the appropriate page template to the new pages.

We have found a popular approach is to have a home page template, one standard template for all public pages and one or more members’ only page templates used for content relevant to members.

Populate All the Pages

We suggest mapping out your website’s information architecture in Excel or in a diagram before you start designing the website. The diagram below illustrates a simple website information architecture.

Information Architecture

Here are some guidelines for organizing your pages:

  • A Wild Apricot page can be configured to be viewed by certain audiences: everyone (public), for members only or for Wild Apricot administrators only.
  • Pages can also be configured so that they are included — or not — in the primary navigation menu of the website.
  • If a page is configured to be “not in menu,” it can still be linked to from another page’s content. This is a powerful way to simplify the menu system and help visitors navigate the website without a deep navigation system which could confuse visitors.
  • There are also  system pages that support various transactions and website interactions. They can be redesigned as well and all use a page template. Don’t forget them as many visitors will end up on a system page at least once every visit, for example when logging into the website!

Several tips for writing for the web

Overhauling your website no doubt will mean lots of writing and editing, either to create new pages or to revise or even rewrite your existing pages. Here are a few important considerations as you edit:

What voice do you use to address site visitors?

  • Is the writing interesting and engaging … or will their eyes start to glaze over while they look for another link to click?
  • Speaking of links: are they prominent and easy to find, with a consistent placement on each page?
  • Does the site use  friendly tone of voice that speaks directly to the reader, written in the first and second person? Words like “we,” “us,” “our,” “you” and “your” are almost always preferred on organizations that are smaller.

Is it clear what visitors can do on your website?

  • Can new and repeat visitors understand how to login to your website, renew their membership or register for an event?
  • Are your marketing “calls to action” clear? Pages to support specific actions need clear instructions and buttons or links.

Is the language direct and active?

  • Website copy should be mostly shorter sentences and paragraphs, with scannable headlines and sections. You can also use point-form lists to break down information.

Remember, effective websites inform and encourage action. People will more often be on your site to learn, engage and do something.

Wild Apricot Gadgets: the key to good page design

Placing gadgets on a page or page template is the key technique to inform your audience and help them interact with your organization.

Wild Apricot offers 33 useful and powerful gadgets that are used to compose pages and page templates. There are 5 categories of gadgets in the system, and they are listed below in order of frequency of use:

  • Content
  • Membership
  • Navigation
  • e-Commerce
  • Community

The lists below are not exhaustive, but these are the gadgets that we tend to used most often in site design.

Content Gadgets
Content gadget

Most commonly used gadget for formatted text, images, audio, video or a button.

Slideshow gadget

An interactive photo slideshow with optional links to pages.

Upcoming events gadget

Displays a list of upcoming events that have been configured in the Events module


Membership Gadgets
Membership application gadget

A form to help prospective members apply to become active members

Member directory gadget

An interactive member directory for the public or members


Navigation Gadgets

Menu gadget

A dynamic navigation menu that includes all menus in pages automatically.

Secondary menu gadget

A configurable, static menu that helps visitors navigate to any pages.


e-Commerce Gadgets
Catalog gadget

Displays an online store for physical and digital goods and services

Donation form gadget

A configurable form to collect donations from visitors and members


Community Gadgets
Discussion forum gadget

Enables visitors and members to have interactive, threaded conversations on the website

Subscription form gadget

A form to collect email addresses for a newsletter or email mailing list

Polls, Elections and Surveys

Conduct research with your membership base

Need a custom form?

Collecting information in a form (like a grant application or a job posting) is currently not possible in Wild Apricot. We use software as a service form builders to create custom forms to enable custom data collection and storage of submissions.

Tip: At NewPath Consulting we use Formstack as a tool to:

  • add dynamic forms to collect arbitrary data including file uploads
  • design surveys, grant applications and custom processes
  • accomplish a lot of what Wild Apricot cannot do out of the box

An example can be an online grant application or a complex event registration that has lots of conditional logic (fields collected only when other fields fit a specific criterion).

Files and documents can also be linked into pages and accessed by the public or by members only. You can store files in your Wild Apricot website and make files available for download including Acrobat PDF files, Microsoft Office documents, rich media files like videos and compressed zip files.

How do you publish events?

Publishing events is one of the most powerful modules in Wild Apricot. Learn how and more in the next article in this series.

Read the next chapter: Building Events, Advanced Searches and SEO


About the author

Alex is a pioneer in using the cloud to meet the needs of small and medium sized business (SMBs) and membership-based organizations. He has a BSc in computer science from the University of Michigan and has worked as a product manager at two Internet startups. Alex is a father of 2 and plays the trumpet for fun. He is the founder and the president of the University of Michigan Alumni Club of Toronto.