Top Membership Website Builders – Bring The Community Together

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Dani Nolan

2 comments

2019 January 10th at 5:01

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Membership websites are perfect for getting a community together: sharing media, tutorials, or ideas for the selected ones who join your secret club.

However, managing such a platform may seem a very messy thing. Handling payments, subscriptions, permissions, and many more services can sound very intimidating.

This is where the right membership site builder can make your life easier. With superior ease of use and great design, they can help create a great experience for both you and your visitors.

Here's the list of 4 chosen membership website builders you should consider:

  • Wix (versatile and easy to set up)
  • Wild Apricot (offers unlimited admin accounts)
  • GoCentral (very easy to use and priced well)
  • Weebly (a simple to navigate builder )

1. Wix

Recommended for: users who want an easy to set up membership website.

the-best-website-builder-for-membership-websitesWix is a crowd favorite when it comes to website builders, with over 90 million users in 190 countries. For a good reason, too - this platform is so incredibly versatile: it can be used for all kinds of pages.

So it was no surprise to see Wix offering special templates, plans, and features only for the membership sites.

There's a membership form app, which can easily be added to your website with no need to use a third-party tool. Also with Wix, you can create members-only pages that can be viewed by signed up members only. You can also create member roles, which will let you manage who can access which pages.

For example: if you have a teaching website, you might want to create home assignment pages that can be accessible to any signed up students or teachers.

All of the above is achievable by clicking on the 'Menus & Pages' options, too. So overall, Wix is a simple option to take to start with and maintain.

A quick glance at the Wix pricing

Firstly, Wix offers a free plan - although it is limited, especially for membership websites.

The paid plans, however, range from $5.00 - $25.00 per month. 

For membership websites, I would recommend the Unlimited plan ($14.00) or the eCommerce plan ($17.00) per month. They both have over 10GB storage, free domain, and a Form Builder app are also included.

PROS

  • Wix App Market
  • 24/7 support
  • Plenty of options for membership websites
  • PayPal payment

CONS

  • Only one admin account allowed

2. Wild Apricot

Recommended for: users who want a serious membership website with unlimited admin accounts.

When it comes to membership websites - Wild Apricot is the expert. This platform is built specifically for membership organizations - and includes things like registration forms, membership databases, and event calendars.

the-best-website-builder-for-membership-websites-4To get you started, there are 30+ mobile-optimized themes to choose from (though some of which are extremely outdated).

At first, the dashboard itself may appear daunting, but after a couple of minutes of playing around, you'll soon become familiar with its features.

Users can customize their website by changing the color scheme, adding a logo, text and various images. For anybody who wants a completely unique website, or is experienced in web design, you also have the option to create a custom website using HTML and CSS code.

Now, let's take a look at some of the other Wild Apricot features, shall we?

  • Wild Apricot websites can have unlimited admin accounts.
  • Users can set up payments with PayPal, Authorize.net, Square, and many more.
  • Wild Apricot has two mobile apps available - iOS and Android.
  • Add widgets such as - event calendars, member directories, and donation forms.

On top of these features, each website comes ready with a membership database and an emailing system so you can analyze and communicate with your members.

Free plan, free trial - what can users expect?

Free Plan? No. Free trial? Yes.

Wild Apricot gives you a 30-day free trial which should be more than enough to familiarise yourself with its features.

On top of this, there are 6 paid plans that range from $40.00 - $600.00 per month - depending on the number of contacts you require. It's interesting to note that each plan comes with the same feature set, which includes unlimited admins, SSL certificate, free unlimited support, online store, and online payments. This platform may be a fair bit more expensive than the competition. But it's a membership-first website builder and it shows.

PROS

  • Unlimited support
  • Impressive feature set for membership websites
  • PayPal payments

CONS

  • Some of the themes are outdated
  • The dashboard is slightly confusing at first

3. GoCentral

Recommended for: users who want to set up simple members-only pages in just a few clicks.

the-best-website-builder-for-membership-websites-5GoCentral is the fairly new website builder from GoDaddy. Although GoCentral isn't specifically designed for membership websites, it has a few interesting features that you should know about.

First of all, the website building process is remarkably easy. GoCentral has a simple and user-friendly interface with limited customization features. There are around 9 templates to choose from, and each one can be customized by changing the color scheme and font.

the-best-website-builder-for-membership-websites-5In terms of membership features; users can create members-only pages. For example, you could include in-house price lists or audience promotions. By creating members-only pages, it now gives you a reason to add members to your website.

Adding members can be done two ways - one at a time, or by importing a spreadsheet of names and email addresses.

By doing this, you have given permission for those members to view your members-only pages.

Let's take a quick look at the GoCentral pricing

Unfortunately, there is no free plan.

There are four paid plans that range from $5.99 - $29.99 per month. For membership websites, I would recommend the Business ($9.99) plan as it includes PayPal payment options. 

PROS

  • Easy to set-up membership pages
  • Fair-priced plans
  • 24/7 support

CONS

  • Limited customization features
  • Fewer templates than most website builders

4. Weebly

Recommended for: users who want a drag-and-drop form builder and multiple admins allowed.

the-best-website-builder-for-membership-websites-6In 2014, Weebly added membership features to its platform. It now has everything you need to create robust membership experience for your website, online store or blog.

Weebly provides over 100 templates to choose from, each of which can be customized using one of the most efficient drag and drop editors available today. You can add video backgrounds, parallax, custom fonts and much, much more.

And now, let's take a look at those membership features:

  • Pro sites can have up to 100 members and Business sites can have an unlimited amount
  • Member Groups allows you to control and manage groups of members
  • Login and registration windows make it easier for new visitors to sign-up
  • Starter plan ($8.00) per month is great for building membership websites

the-best-website-builder-for-membership-websites-7Weebly also provides an excellent blogging platform that can be used to communicate with members.

It uses the same hassle-free drag and drop editor and comes with plenty of ready-made blogging templates.

What's more, you can purchase a Paid Members App. What this app gives you is the option to transform your Weebly website into a real membership site. It also comes with Stripe and PayPal integration, too. The Paid Members App starts at $9.97 per month.

PROS

  • Weebly offers a free plan
  • Great starter plan for membership websites
  • 24/7 support

CONS

  • Paid Members App is not included in Weebly account

Which Membership Website Builder Is The Best?

Well, each of the website builders I have chosen brings something different to the table. However, which one is right for you depends solely on the purpose of your website.

To help your decision further, though, I have made a list of what each of the website builders does best.

  • Wix is best suited to users who want a versatile and free membership website builder
  • Wild Apricot is best for users who want a strictly paid membership website builder with unlimited admin accounts
  • GoCentral is best suited for users who want a simple website with members only page features 
  • Weebly would make a good choice for users who want an all-around website builder with a paid members app

Overall, I really enjoyed using each of these website builders for this specific task. For users who want a strict membership website but aren't too fussed about a modern day design - Wild Apricot is built for you.  Weebly and Wix both have stunning templates and enough membership features and GoCentral does the bare minimum - but also requires the least work. At the end of the day - the decision is yours to make.

So, after testing dozens of website builders, I came to the conclusion that these are the top 4 website builders for membership websites. However, if you have your own suggestions, please let me know in the comments below!


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Dani Nolan

An experienced content professional with a creative mind. If I'm not writing, you can probably find me in the backyard playing with dogs or at some weird art show.


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2 comments

Tatiana Morand picture
Tatiana Morand

2019 May 6th

Hey Dani! Great article. I just wanted to point out that Wild Apricot does actually offer a free plan indefinitely if you wanted to continue using it — feature set is just slightly reduced. You can learn more about it here: https://www.wildapricot.com/blogs/newsblog/2017/05/30/create-a-membership-website-free

    Yumi Zeviar

    2019 June 3rd

    Hi Tatiana. Thank you for sharing the link, but I saw it’s only good for up to 50 members…
    Our group has been recently established in March 2019, but already got 200+ (and growing!) Members…
    We have a FB Group page but not all the members has FB acct, and we’re in seach of a way to create membership site (possibly free, at least in the beginning…) which will be:
    – Open to public for new people who wants to join – but they must meet the criteria to become a member.
    – Members only section
    – Multiple admins to manage
    – Possibly: Accept payment for dues, registration for events and such.
    Do you or Dani, or anybody has suggestions?
    Thank you in advance!