A room without a view

Imagine your organization has a series of rooms that members have to pass through to become members.

You can design these rooms in any way you like, and you can have as many or as few as you like. Visitors could gather information, choose their options, and make payment all in one room. Or you could have them complete each step in a different room.

It seems natural that you’d use as few rooms as possible, right? It would be quicker, require less resources, and there would be fewer opportunities to lose prospective members along the way since every transition is also an opportunity to walk away and go back to eating cake and watching Netflix.

At the very least, you’d want to make sure that the information a prospective member needs is available in each room, right?

Head over to your membership sales page right now.

Try to put yourself in the shoes of someone who has never visited your site before. Pretend you don’t have all the benefits memorized.

Review and compare the different membership options.

Now, take the next step to become a member — you might have to click a button or start filling out a form. You’ll likely be asked to select which membership level you want to purchase.

On this screen, can you see the benefits for the membership option you chose?

It’s likely that you can’t, which means that the visitor has to carry those benefits in their head. They’ve been shuttled off to another room where they can’t refer back to the benefits.

It’s likely the visitor may doubt their initial choice at this moment. In part because they’re close to hitting the payment button, but also because the website is likely presenting the options in a new way. Maybe on the previous page options were laid out in columns, whereas on this new page there’s a dropdown menu listing all the options. This triggers a moment of hesitation for some visitors: “Am I making the right choice?”

Since the benefits aren’t displayed, they would have to go back to a previous screen to review the benefits again.

That’s not good.

Your website is offloading information onto the visitor. Rather than deliver the information when visitors need it, your site is turning the prospective member into a pack mule — saddling them with the task of carrying around complicated membership options in their heads.

You know how computers crash if they’ve got too many things going on at once? Well, people have limited mental capacity as well, and becoming a member of your organization isn’t the only thing on their mind when they’re at that checkout page.

His daughter is going to wake up from her nap at any moment, and he still needs to reply to an email from his boss, and his father-in-law is calling — what does he want? — and if he doesn’t book a hotel for Sam’s wedding soon they’re going to be staying at a Motel 6 and …

Which of these 12 membership options do I want again?

You might be thinking, “Come on, Kyle. If they’re that busy, they can just come back later.”

Do you really want your website to communicate to visitors that they should come back later when they’re less busy? If so, you could be in for a long wait.

To support visitors at this crucial moment in the process of joining your organization, display membership benefits on the checkout page.

Here are a few solutions:

  1. Keep the form on the same page as those where benefits are listed, or

  2. If checkout needs to happen on a separate page, make the website display the benefits of a particular option once they’ve chosen it, which is a kind of reassurance and allows them to check other options without leaving the page.

If you don’t offer one of those solutions, it’s likely you’re effectively asking visitors to decide which option they prefer twice. Asking a second time is a bit like saying, “Are you really sure you want to do that?” You’d never say that to someone if they were purchasing a membership in person, so why do it on your website?

Thanks for reading,


HumanizeKyle Bowen