What is a membership website and what makes it a subscription website archetype?
A Membership Website is an online destination—in and of itself. It may be structured as a “pure-play” site or as a “companion” website. Either way, members or subscribers register and pay to access information, organized library-style by topic of interest, or research information or find answers to a question.
The Minimum Information Unit is a person or member and all the information that member shares via their member profile, forum posts, file uploads, links and other data. The Ladders, Match.com and SSUG are benchmark sites for the Membership Website Archetype. All three require registration and payment for full access. One-day memberships generally have the highest fee, while annual memberships usually offer the lowest price and the most benefits.
A Membership Website is a subscription website archetype since it generates the majority of its revenues from user access fees. This website business model is similar to a print newsletter or magazine that accepts little or no advertising, relying primarily on user support. Membership websites often sell other branded information products that may include books, events and print periodicals at special member-only rates.
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While there may be hundreds of individual and hybrid subscription websites being used, Mequoda studies the following six subscription websites archetypes:
Subscription Website Archetype #1: Reference Website – TrueFire.com
Subscription Website Archetype #2: Membership Website – Match.com
Subscription Website Archetype #3: Periodical Website – DailyWord.com
Subscription Website Archetype #4: Newsletter Website – Fool.com
Subscription Website Archetype #5: Application Website – MorningStar.com
Subscription Website Archetype #6: Magazine Website – WineSpectator.com