15 August 2022

Subsites and Microsites – How and When to Use Them

You’re probably already familiar with today’s keywords; subsites and microsites; and have often wondered whether your membership organisation’s web presence will benefit from a microsite or two. 

Here’s your answer: Yes it will! 

Sometimes your organisation’s campaign needs more than just a blurb on your website. Senior can help you set that promotion apart by building a separate website dedicated JUST to your event to feature and promote it. 

This post will be shedding more light on the pros and cons of subsites and microsites for membership organisations, types, when to use them and why. 

What is a Subsite? 

A subsite is a website that is subordinate to another website and is hosted in its entirety under that site's domain name. It can be a single page or a collection of web pages within a larger site that have been given a common style and a shared navigation mechanism.  

Your membership organisation’s subsite will help its members feel welcome in the part of your site that is important to them. Subsites generally provide an improved user experience as large sites often contain heterogeneous information that cannot all be squeezed into a single standard structure. 

Examples of a subsite could be: a website of a department within an organisation, website of a research group within a department, an intranet site, etc. 

When Should You Use Subsites? 

You should consider using subsites when: 

  1. The site has a different function from the main site. For example, your membership renewal and communities and forums pages should have their own subsites each, as their information will never be relevant to each other. 
  1. The site has information which is not needed elsewhere. 
  1. The site has a different target audience from the main site. 

Generally, subsites should be used when there is division of information.  


  • Subsites are a way of handling the complexity of large websites with thousands or even hundreds of thousands of pages.   
  • Customised subsites will help target your audiences better. 
  • It helps to minimise search results. 
  • Increases brand visibility. 
  • It makes it easy for members to find what they’re looking for. 


  • There’s the risk of unintentional sharing of confidential information, as subsites by default inherit permissions (which can be easily messed up) from the parent site. 
  • You can only create subsites based on classic templates. 
  • When you have subsites, you are inevitably diluting the power of your main membership website. 
  • Often subsites will click through to a main site and members can get lost. 


These are small websites dedicated to a product or service that allow you to include more information. They are sites associated with an organisation but on separate domains and have their own unique addresses and links, custom navigation, design and content, and usually act as subdivisions of a larger website. 

A microsite can be a unique domain (e.g., a sub-domain (e.g. or a directory of an existing site (e.g. 

Typically, a microsite will feature in-depth content about a specific product, service, idea, event, or thing. Microsites are tiny websites that will usually only serve one purpose. They are of 2 categories: 

  1. Campaign-based microsites – Which are independent sites created for the sole purpose of anchoring and/or supporting a branded campaign. Once you launch, populate with content (be it visual, video, written, etc.), and amplify them using whatever strategy your organisation sees fit, they are then left alone. 
  1. Microsites that post regular, on-going content - These sites act like media sites, in that they publish original content on a regular schedule and will keep running until someone pulls the plug. 

Why Use Microsites 

  • With microsites, your membership organisation can focus solely on what members want, sidestepping what might be legal or business necessities. 
  • Microsites also give organisations a way to direct specific members to specific sites built for their needs. 
  • Microsites are designed to attract and appeal to members who want specific things. This means a narrowed focus and significantly simplified user flow of microsites.  
  • As the site owner, they provide you with complete control over design. This means the visual appearance, language, content, etc, can be designed specifically to your target audience and potential members, giving them more confidence in registering. 
  • It gives the members a more focused experience without the distractions that integrating with the main membership site will bring.  
  • You can house all your event's information in one place (rather than it being buried on your organisation's website) 
  • With microsites, you can target members looking for the products and services you’re offering in a specific geography. 
  • They are cleaner to manage internally. A single department can run each website, or the organisation can associate the site with a specific project. 

When Do You Need a Microsite? 

Realistically, you do not need a microsite; after all there are situations where it could undermine your SEO efforts. Using microsites is a good idea when you want to: 

  • Give your members an interactive experience 
  • Target specific market e.g. by geography 
  • Provide details about a specific organisation initiative 
  • Promote/launch a new focus or service line 
  • Promote an event (like a members-only event) 
  • Generate targeted leads 
  • Provide more information  
  • Appeal to a specific subset of your audience (for instance Charities only, or Associations of Doctors and Nurses) 
  • Showcase an aspect of your brand that isn’t a core focus or that needs further development. 

Benefits of Microsites 

Here are a few benefits of microsites: 

  • Easily managed: As microsites are usually created for targeted campaigns, smaller teams are assigned to manage them. 
  • SEO for niche keywords: They can help your membership organisation attain better search engine rankings for particular keywords using focused content. 
  • Lead generation: They can be used to generate high-intent leads for businesses including membership organisations, charities and other associations with membership sites, etc.  
  • Focused content: Microsites’ options for focusing attention make them especially useful for time-sensitive content such as: campaigns, promotions, events, etc. 
  • Measuring success: Microsites allow you to collect valuable analytical data. You can easily track your site’s click-through, conversion and bounce rates. 
  • Increased supporter engagement: Because you can host unique content that strays from your normal brand on your microsite, there’s a huge opportunity to increase member engagement. Elements like interactive slides, videos, or even a fun quiz can engage your members in a fun and interesting way, while still introducing them to your brand. 
  • Increased brand visibility: They create more opportunities for people to find and engage you. 
  • Microsites can help visitors focus on your marketing campaigns. 

Drawbacks of Microsites 

  • They can distract your members and visitors from interacting with content hosted on your main website. 
  • Your team will need to develop a new marketing strategy that is unique to the product, service, event, or campaign you’re offering. 
  • Microsites require significant time commitment – content needs to be updated regularly for the duration of its marketing campaign. 
  • There is a tendency to leave users confused. Not all your members will be able to adapt to different user interfaces, leaving for a poor user experience. 
  •  Microsites are costly to maintain. 

Subsites and microsites can be fantastic tools for membership organisations as long as they are right for the job; they are an easy way to provide a great experience to a specific user group, or to launch a new brand or campaign. It all comes down to knowing when and how to use them. If that is something you need help with, get in touch with Senior today. 

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