Building a membership site is among the quickest and easiest ways to increase the engagement of the website’s users.
You can offer members exclusive information or access, rewards, discounts, and more.
With a membership website, the chances of members to keep coming back, spend more time, and make more purchases from you are much higher. This will help build and grow customer loyalty to your brand and company.
The good news is that although it may sound like a complicated task, especially for people with no website building and coding experience, you can easily create a membership site using a suitable membership website builder, CMS, or plug-ins and extensions.
In fact, many of the best site builders will enable you to add a members-only area to your existing website easily and often without paying additional fees.
All you need to do is choose the most suitable membership model and the platform or plug-in to create it, then create the content for members only and publish the members-only pages. After that, you can promote this offering to your audience using your chosen marketing channels.
What Is a Membership Website?
This is a gated private part of your website reserved only for members. You can offer registered users and members exclusive information and benefits. These can include exclusive discounts, free shipping, invitations to events, access to webinars, conferences, online courses, and more.
Many companies, nonprofits, associations, and clubs have membership websites to keep the audience loyal and engaged.
What’s the difference between a subscription and a membership website?
Since the two sound quite similar, many people need clarification about the difference between membership and subscription websites.
The main difference is that a subscription website relies on a financial contract with a user to use specific services, access content, and more for a particular period.
Just like with streaming giant Netflix, if you choose to subscribe, you will gain access to the content until the subscription period ends. If you cancel your subscription, you can no longer watch the films and content offered.
With a membership website, access to private or exclusive content is not directly related to paying a subscription fee. Although, in some cases, members will be asked to pay a fee for access, this is not always the case. In most cases, users will need to register and then be able to log in and gain access to the membership content.
5 Best Membership Website Builders
With the help of one of these best membership website builders, you can easily build a membership-only area to add to your website without hiring professional web designers and developers.
So, you can save both money and time while increasing the loyalty of your registered customers and members.
#1 Wix – Best Overall Builder for Creating a Members-Only Area
We picked Wix as the best overall members-only site builder because it is easy to use and set up a Member’s Area on your website without needing third-party apps and extensions.
In fact, some Wix apps like Wix Forum, Wix Bookings, Wix Events, or Wix Stores will automatically add such a member’s area on your website.
Wix has an intuitive drag-and-drop editor and various templates and apps that you can easily customize for your website, membership pages, or a gated community forum.
When designing your member’s area, the editor will automatically match the theme to your central website theme, and then you can customize it to suit your preferences.
The prices depend on your chosen plan and range from free to $500 per month.
If you upgrade to a premium plan, you can start selling subscriptions to access the restricted content without installing third-party extensions.
You can manage your members easily via the dashboard. There you can see detailed info about members, approve or block them, and assign different badges and roles for them.
Wix Members Area is good for:
- Creating a customized membership-only private page for every member in the Member’s Area
- Customizable, exclusive content in private or public pages for members only
- Ability to create profile pages or profile cards for your members
- Increasing customer engagement and connecting to customers so they are more likely to return
- You can add Pricing Plans for My Subscription page, Wix Bookings, Wix Events, Wix Restaurants, Wix Stores, or others that include membership-only areas.
- The Member’s Area will help create and strengthen the online community via Wix Groups, Wix Blog, Wix Forum, Wix Chat, File Share, and more
- Create exclusive offers and content for registered or paying members only
- Easy management of your members’ info, interactions, purchases, and more
- Ability to assign badges and personalized pages and areas for some or all members
Ease of use
This website builder is an all-in-one solution chosen by all kinds of users – bloggers, small business owners, entrepreneurs, and more.
One of its biggest advantages is Wix’s ease of use.
Thanks to its easy-to-understand and use drag-and-drop editor, the ready-made templates, over 200 app integrations, and its built-in SEO features, it is easy to create any website quickly and without any previous coding or web design experience.
For an even faster and hassle-free experience, Wix offers its Artificial Design Intelligence website set-up option. This ADI wizard will help you create a stunning-looking and completely customized website set up in a few clicks.
If you have problems or questions, you can ask for assistance 24/7, no matter which paid plan you have chosen to use.
And with the integrated Member’s Area features, you will need to click install. Then the desired membership profile will appear, so you can start customizing it as you, please.
To do so, look for the Add Apps button on the toolbar on the left of the editor, and search for the Members Area icon.
Once you pull it into your editing area, you can install it and instantly gain access to the user profile account and login bar options. They will allow registered members to log in and access the members-only content and exclusive info you have set up for them.
This can be done by installing the Wix Forum app. Then you can set up various discussion topics and boards and post members-only news.
It is a good idea to add a members-only community area to your website so that your loyal members can exchange info and opinions and recommend different options to each other. This will also help your users feel a sense of community and exclusiveness and boost their engagement on your website.
Wix offers more than 800 customizable website templates, more than 200 apps, and the possibility of integrating over 300 third-party apps to create a unique and professional-looking website. All of them are mobile-optimized.
Once you select the most suitable professionally designed template, you can immediately start customizing it to your liking. This is done by dragging and dropping content, adding different tools, apps, features, and more via the user-friendly interface of the editor.
When you install your member’s area, the editor will automatically adjust its look to the main theme of your website.
Overall, Wix is among the best membership website builders for those of you who want a professional-looking website with numerous valuable features and an easy-to-set-up and manage the members-only area.
No matter which free or paid plan you choose, you can install the Members Area app to your site from the Wix App Market for free.
So, you can start providing members-only exclusive content, offers, and more right away without paying additional fees.
But if you want to be able to receive payments from members or enable features like members booking, you will need to upgrade to a Wix paid plan.
The least expensive plan is the Combo plan which costs $16 per month when paid annually. It includes 2GB storage, 30 minutes of video, and 24/7 customer care. This is a reasonably priced offer for users who are just starting and looking to grow their online presence and business.
If you decide to stick to your free plan, you can still install the Members Area app on your website for free. But you will not be able to receive payments and offer online reservations.
So, overall, Wix offers excellent value for money for people and businesses who are just starting. And for those who want to begin engaging with and building user and customer loyalty from setting up their websites on day one.
Wix has an ADI and a drag-and-drop website set-up, and editor options. This makes it one of the most accessible platforms to use to create a fully functional and beautiful website with a dedicated members-only area, community forum, and more.
It has hundreds of design templates and apps you can choose from, and the Members Area app is free to use and install, even if you use the free plan offered by Wix.
But with the free plan, you cannot offer online reservations and receive user payments.
The platform provides built-in SEO tools for increasing your search engine rankings. There are hundreds of third-party apps you can integrate within your website too.
Some of the other helpful membership website builder tools available on Wix include Wix Bookings, which is $17 per month, Wix Forum which is free, and the
Contact Form, which too is available for free.
With one or more of these apps, you will keep your members engaged, increase their loyalty, and keep them in the loop with the latest special offers, exclusive content, and more.
#2 Squarespace – Best for Creating Premium Content for Members
Squarespace is best known as the website builder with the most stunning and contemporary templates and visuals of all.
But this leading website builder also allows its customers to create membership sites. This allows them to start monetizing by selling access to online classes, podcasts, workshops, communities, newsletters, videos, and many more.
The feature comes with all the tools to protect the exclusive content, share it, manage your member’s list, choose the membership payment options, and create events, workshops, and other benefits for them so that you build the community and increase the loyalty of your members.
The Starter plan for setting up a member area on Squarespace is $9 monthly when paid annually. It includes one member area, unlimited members, 5 hours of video storage, and a 7% transaction fee.
The Core plan costs $18 per month and offers 3 members areas, 20 hours of video, and a 4% transaction fee.
The Pro plan is $35 per month and will allow you to set-up up to 10 member areas, store and offer 50 hours of video, and has a transaction fee of only 1%.
You can add a Member Areas plan with any Squarespace website plan.
Squarespace Membership Types Explained
You can set up three types of access to the membership areas on your Squarespace website. They are a one-time membership payment, a recurring payment or subscription, or a free registration.
There are also three paid plans for creating and managing your membership area on Squarespace.
The least expensive Starter plan is suitable if you only need a single member’s area for all of your registered or paying users. This plan is suitable if you are not expecting to be receiving a lot of one-time or recurring payments. The reason is that it has a 7% transaction fee, which is quite steep.
The Core plan is suitable for users who want to have 1-3 different member areas and prefer to be charged a lower transaction fee of 4% per payment.
The Pro plan is the best option for users who are relying heavily on selling access to or content from their member’s areas. The most expensive plan is $35 but allows for creating and running up to 10 different members-only zones and has a 1% transaction fee for payments made by your members.
How to set up a members-only area with Squarespace:
- Choose a Squarespace website plan and start by choosing a template and using the editor to customize your website
- In the editor, go to the Settings option on the left side toolbar, and click on Members Area
- Press Create Members Area and choose a name for the member’s area
- Begin adding the content, videos, courses, newsletters, and any other members-only content you want to the area
- Use the editor to customize the sign-up and the landing pages of your member’s area
- Decide on the membership type – whether it is free, a one-time payment, or requires recurring payments
- Add the preferred payment processor to your site
- Choose your members’ area subscription plan (Starter, Core, or Pro) and add it all to your Squarespace website plan
- Select whether you want to pay monthly or annually
- Confirm your choice of a plan and billing method and proceed to purchase it
Creating Premium Content for Your Members
A member’s panel will become visible once you set up the exclusive area. You can start building the membership pages by selecting the Pages option from the panel.
Then, you can choose a beautiful template or start from scratch and begin designing and creating your members-only page.
There are many options to choose from, including creating an exclusive blog, a newsletter, a video, a course, an event, and many more.
Squarespace is widely considered the leading website builder when it comes to design.
The platform offers some of the most beautiful, minimalist, and professional website templates of all of the many website builders on the market.
Thanks to the award-winning, modern templates, your website, and membership pages will look professional and beautiful without having to pay the big bucks for a skilled web designer.
It has gorgeous templates designed explicitly for membership websites and pages you can choose from.
Thanks to the easy-to-use editor and the built-in integration, you can easily and quickly create the perfect membership site using Squarespace, even if you have never done anything like this before.
Value for Money
Squarespace has a Personal website plan which costs $16 per month, a Business plan for $23 per month, a Commerce Basic plan for $27 per month, and a
Commerce Advanced paid Plan costing $49 per month when paid annually.
If you want to add a members-only area to your website, you will need to choose between the Starter, Core, or Pro member area plans offered by Squarespace. These cost $9, $18, and $35 per month, respectively.
Overall, Squarespace offers excellent value for the money asked for creating a contemporary website with one or more dedicated membership areas.
There is a 14-day free trial option, so you can try Squarespace and its Members Area for two weeks before deciding whether to subscribe.
The Squarespace Members Area will allow you to:
- Create 1 to 10 members areas, depending on which plan you choose
- Start monetizing your exclusive content
- Choose between different membership login and payment options, including free, one-time, or asking for recurring payments
- Create one or more beautiful membership webpages
- Choose among various payment processors and services
- Manage and review your members and their subscription details, including their auto-renewal dates and more
- Feel secure about the payments and online transactions thanks to the SSL encryption included in the website plans
- Easily integrate the information of the exclusive gated content with your social media and across various profiles to attract more members
#3 GoDaddy – Ideal for Creating a Quick Members Feature
GoDaddy is another trusted all-in-one website hosting, website builder, and domain name platform. You can use it to create a membership website. And to manage it efficiently and accurately by adding or removing members individually.
It offers more manual options such as adding individual members or removing them, uploading existing members, and choosing users who have already given their permission to be contacted to your email list.
You will need to set up at least one private page on your website in order to start adding members who will gain exclusive access to it.
How to add members to your GoDaddy site
- Create at least one private page on your website
- Go to the product page on GoDaddy
- Find the Websites+Marketing option and click on Manage, which will open the website
- On the Dashboard, find Connections and select Members
- Choose the Import option, where the Add contacts one by one manually is selected automatically
- Add a user’s email, and they will receive an invitation to join and create a password
- You can fill out the fields for the names and phone numbers of each member if you want
- Make sure that the box for access to the private pages is checked in the Customer Status & Private Access option
- You can add a member to an existing or to a new members list so that you can organize your users, members, subscribers, and customers
- Once you are done, click Save & Create Another
- When you are ready, click Save, and you will be sent back to the Connections Contact Type form
GoDaddy Membership is good for:
- Those who prefer to add and remove contacts individually
- People and businesses that have smaller client lists and existing lists they want to import
- Creating and managing lists of members to send emails to
- Removing members who have canceled their membership or subscription with a single click
Ease of Use
GoDaddy is one of the most intuitive and easy-to-use simple website builders. This makes it a preferred option by beginners with no design or coding skills. It is perfect for people and small businesses who want to create more generic and simple members-only pages.
Due to the more limited customization options, it is not the best choice for people who would like to tweak and customize every detail on their website or membership pages.
Thanks to the user-friendly editor and dashboard, all the tools you need are available right in front of you. This will allow you to add or remove members, send emails to them, and more.
The website builder has affordable plans, more than 100 mobile responsive templates, and robust built-in marketing features.
- Individual member imports – this feature allows for the manual addition of members one by one
- You can also easily import a list of members from a previous website or database.
- Marketing email campaigns – the members are added to your mailing list for your email blasts and other mail campaigns.
- Subscribe the members to your blog – you can add every new member to a subscriber list for your blog. This will allow them to receive email notifications as soon as a new blog post or other content is added.
Value for Money
You can create a members-only page and add up to 25 members if you are using the GoDaddy free trial plan. But if you want to add more members, you will need to upgrade to a paid plan.
The least expensive one is the Basic plan which costs $9.99 per month.
If you want to receive membership payments or organize events and accept reservations for your members, then you will need to upgrade to the Premium or the Ecommerce Plan, which costs $24.99 per month.
Overall, GoDaddy has been rated among the top website hosting and building services when it comes to the best bang for the buck. This is because the plans are relatively inexpensive and come with features such as mobile responsiveness, fast loading, and more.
#4 Weebly – Best for Building a Simple Membership Website
Weebly is another top choice for those who want to create a simple yet functional membership website without breaking the bank and without needing any web design and coding skills.
This website builder comes with attractive and mobile-responsive templates. Best of all, you can easily switch between templates without the need of having to resubmit and add all of your content.
The service has excellent uptime. Thanks to its user-friendly editor, you can create a gated members-only page or section of your website with a few clicks.
You can access the Members page option via the Settings tap located on the top menu.
Then you can start adding, organizing, and managing the individual members as well as whole group communities who have access to your members-only content.
With Weebly, you can create an entire members-only website or make only a specific page or section limited to members-only access.
While Weebly has a great free plan, you will need to upgrade to a paid plan if you want to have access to the membership features. Plus, as the number of your registered users increases, you will need to continue upgrading your plan on Weebly.
The price for users with 100 members or more can grow to $24 or $38 per month for one of Weebly’s business plans.
This can make this website builder unsuitable for people or businesses with limited budgets but with lots of members and customers.
Ease of Use
The website editor is very easy to use. All of the ecommerce and marketing tools, as well as the ones for membership area creation, are integrated into Weebly.
Thus, you can start working on making your membership website without the need to search for and add third-party or in-house apps and extensions.
So, creating a members-only page or an online community with Weebly is straightforward and quick.
But since the customization features are more limited than those offered by other website builders, Weebly may not be the right option for those who want to create more complex sites with more complicated membership elements and features.
While it has more than 50 beautiful mobile responsive website templates, Weebly lacks some of the great design elements and features offered by Wix or Squarespace.
So, suppose you want to create a more artistic membership website on Weebly. In that case, you may want to opt for the templates in the Personal section of the
Themes rather than opt for a Business, Online Store, or another industry-focused template.
There is no template that has specifically been designed for membership pages and websites on Weebly. Still, there are enough beautiful themes to choose from in order to create a simple membership page or site quickly and easily.
Value for Money
Weebly has a free plan for basic use, which comes with 500MB storage, SSL security, and a domain that includes the Weebly branding.
The paid plans allow for connecting to a custom domain. They include the Connect plan for $10, the Pro plan for $12, and the Business plan for $25 per month when paid on an annual basis.
You will need to upgrade to a Business plan to remove the Weebly ads and have the right to receive payments through Square or third-party payment processors.
Here are some additional features on Weebly which can come in handy when creating and running a membership site:
- Import of members – this option allows for the easy import of existing member databases and spreadsheets with clients and the automatic membership account creation for each one. This is a perfect option if you already have a membership list and you are moving from another platform to Weebly.
- A dedicated dashboard – as the administrator, you will receive access to a dedicated membership dashboard. This will allow you to monitor the statistics, such as page visits, traffic, and other interactions with the members. This will give you a clearer idea of how your online community is doing and find ways to improve your reach.
- A pop-up login – this option allows users or members to log into their accounts at any time while visiting any page on your website without the need to head to a dedicated member’s login page. This will boost their engagement.
#5 WordPress.com – Best for Membership Plug-ins
WordPress.com is a flexible and highly customizable choice, especially for blogging. But it is also an excellent choice for building or adding a members-only site, thanks to the wide array of suitable plug-ins.
There is a free option and many good-looking themes you can use as a basis for your membership site.
The plug-ins are free to install and use, so you can set up a membership website with minimal investments and start monetizing on it immediately.
One excellent option for a membership site plug-in on WordPress.com is Members, offered by MemberPress. Once you install it, you can start managing the permissions and access of each of your members individually. But in order to install this plug-in, you will need to upgrade to a Business or an ecommerce plan.
Remember that, unlike the other WYSIWYG drag-and-drop editors, this one requires more experience and skills.
Also, if you want to have more functionality and grow your site, you will need to upgrade to a Premium plan which costs about $150 per year.
Good to Know:
Many people confuse WordPress.com with WordPress.org. The difference is that WordPress.org is an open-source content management system (CMS). In fact, it is the most popular one used for creating and running websites worldwide. It is free to use, but users are responsible for organizing the hosting and the domain name of their websites and also for making backups and performing updates.
WordPress.com, on the other hand, is mainly a blogging, website-building, and hosting platform. It is highly customizable and does not require all of the maintenance and responsibilities of WordPress.org.
Ease of Use
As mentioned above, WordPress.com doesn’t have such an easy-to-understand and use drag-and-drop website editor. So, overall it has a steeper learning curve than the others on this list.
Even though installing the membership plug-ins is pretty straightforward, this platform is not so suitable for newbies with no coding or website design skills.
It is the right choice for bloggers who want to set up a members-only page or zone. But there are better choices for creating membership ecommerce or small business sites.
Value for Money
One of the most significant advantages of using WordPress.com for setting up and running a membership site is its value for money.
There is a free plan which comes with 3GB storage, a preinstalled SSL certificate, and access to many templates.
The Personal plan costs only $4 per month, but you will need to pay for at least one year. This plan includes 6GB storage, a custom domain name, the removal of some branded ads, and access to themes.
The Premium plan is $8 per month, and again you will need to commit to at least 1 year. It allows for some monetization.
The Business plan is $25 per month and comes with unlimited storage, plug-in support, and built-in SEO tools.
The eCommerce plan will cost you $45 per month. But it is the plan which will allow you to add various payment options and processors and numerous other marketing and money-making plug-ins and tools.
Here are the main features which you will receive if you choose WordPress.com for creating and running a membership website:
- Easy social media integration – this feature will allow you to seamlessly spread the word about your membership site to all other channels, including your social media pages. This will increase your reach and attract more members willing to join.
- Built-in analytics – WordPress.com offers useful integrated website analytics to monitor the performance of your membership website. All you need to do is to click on the Stats button on the platform’s dashboard. This eliminates the need to search for, pay and install third-party analytic tools.
- Offer security to your members – all sites on WordPress.com have SSL certificate encryption. This will ensure that your data and your member’s data are protected at all times. Safety is a serious concern for many online users, so this feature will help build up your membership database.
Best Membership Website Builders: Final Thoughts
Hopefully, our review of the top picks for the best membership website builders has helped you find the most suitable one for your specific needs, budget, and skillset.
We chose the following website builders as the leading ones for building and running a membership site for the following reasons:
- Wix – the best overall choice because of its ease of use, hundreds of themes and apps, and excellent value for money
- Squarespace – the best choice for creating a beautiful, modern, and professional-looking membership website
- GoDaddy – the best option for setting up a membership site as quickly and as hassle-free as possible
- Weebly is the best one for designing and running a simple membership site
- WordPress.com – the top choice if you want access to a wide variety of membership plug-ins
Overall, each of these platforms and website builders can be used for creating and running a successful membership website.
Many of them have free trials and free plans, so you can test them first before deciding to commit.
So, good luck with your choice and with engaging and monetizing your loyal community via your membership website!