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The Ideal Membership Application

The construction of your membership application can make or break the beginning of your relationship with your members. A complicated and cumbersome application can frustrate prospects and make them leave before completing the process and/or have them looking at you with the 😒"side eye."😒

Here is The AMS Guy's take on what the ideal membership application looks like.

The most ideal Membership Application only needs 3 pages.

Yes, 3 pages. Anything else is doing too much! Those 3 pages are 1) a General Information page, 2) a Member Information page, and 3) a Payment page. Please note that this post only focuses on the pages where the applicant is providing information. Other pages, such as a confirmation page or an information/instructions page can (and should) continue to be used.

The General Information Page

The General Information Page captures an individual, group, or company’s generic information like

login, password, contact info, and any other standard information. This should also include any "additional fields" that are deemed as generic (ex. birthday, ethnicity) or just flows better on the first page (like questions that are based off the answer to a previous question). Any documents needed to verify eligibility for membership should be uploaded on this page. The last thing that the General Information Page should ask for is the Membership Type. The application should be saved in the database as the applicant moves to the next page. (See Page Saving below for reasoning.)

The Membership Information Page

The Membership Information Page presents the fields that are based on the applicant’s membership type. This can include things like chapter, region, committee, special interest groups (SIGs), etc. You can also capture directory information and any "additional fields" that are based on the chosen member type. Documents such as resumes, credential verification, and other member service documents should be uploaded on this page. The application should be updated and saved in the system once more as the applicant moves to the next page.

The Payment Page

The Payment Page, quite simply, accepts payment! You can present any upsell items on the payment page, otherwise, let the applicant submit payment and move on.

That’s it! 3 pages to organize all of your application elements is all that The AMS Guy thinks is needed. Now let’s discuss some additional characteristics that can help optimize your membership application.

Application Characteristics

· Layout - Many applications use a stacked format to present the entry fields.

This creates unused negative space and unnecessary scrolling that makes your application seem longer than it is. An unstacked format is suggested to remedy this.

One of the more obvious sections where a layout change makes sense is the mailing address. In a stacked formation, you can have up to five or 6 rows of fields to capture an entire mailing address, but with an unstacked layout, not only are you reducing the number of rows, but you can present your mailing address fields in the format that everyone is used to.

· Page Saving – Saving the entered data after each page gives the applicant and the organization a great benefit. If an individual has an issue completing the application, then the organization can, first, identify that someone was attempting to sign up (as opposed to not knowing that an individual ever tried and missing the opportunity completely). The organization can then reach out to that applicant and have him/her try again, but not have to start over "from scratch".

These are the elements that make the ideal membership application in The AMS Guy's eyes. What elements make up your ideal membership application?

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