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6 Subscription based websites with seamless user journeys

Using the subscription business model can be terrifying! How do you know you’ll get enough customers? Will it last? Is it a flash in the pan?

This fear heightens if your business is going through change, especially if you're having a website redesigned. You don’t know whether your customers will like it or whether you’ll attract any new customers.

We’re going to take a look at various subscription website designs and alleviate that fear by telling you what we like about them so you can get some ideas.

It’ll get your creative juices flowing and highlight the importance of user experience and design when getting people to subscribe to your product or service.

1. Ipsy

Ipsy is a makeup provider that wants to make beauty accessible, rewarding and liberating by providing personalised makeup bags. In their words, they want everyone to ‘form their own definition of beauty’. It was founded by Michelle Phan, who was one of the first YouTube beauty vloggers to gain recognition.

ipsy homepage subscription

Why do we like it?

We like Ipsy because knows what it wants you to do. The minimalist menu header is aimed at two people, members and potential members.

The call-to-action in the middle is directive, states the clear benefits of subscribing, and stands out. There’s a short scroll on the page with various options in the footer, but it doesn’t distract from the primary goal of the website.

We’re also fans of the questionnaire, which requests that you create your profile at the end to get your recommended products. It sticks with the personal theme, asking for information like eye and hair colour to help assemble your makeup bag.


2. Current publishing

One of the more traditional subscription-based business models, magazines. Current Publishing is a magazine publishing company who operate in the niche of heritage.

They’ve managed to increase readership and publishing rates at a time when many publishing houses have struggled due to an increase in digital media.

Why do we like it?

The thing we like the most about Current Publishing is the fact they know their audience — or buyer personas as we call them.

If you know who your audience is, you’re more likely to be able to give them what they want. Subscription models need strong relationships; you have to give your audience a reason to keep buying your product. It isn’t a transaction.

One magazine is aimed at archaeology fans in the UK, the other is aimed at people interested in digs and discoveries from around the world, and the last mag is aimed at anyone interested in the military. They speak highly of their worldwide readership and are passionate about their subject.

As you can see from the video, we got to the checkout in 1:30 minutes, but you could do it quicker. Also, we have to remember that subscriptions aren’t this business’s only sales method, they’ll ship magazines out to retailers, and they’ll rely on advertisers as well.

3. Mindful monsters

Mindful Monsters is the brainchild of SCOPE, a disability charity who provide support to help disabled people and their families. The cards are a method for parents and children to connect while supporting a worthwhile cause at the same time.

mindful monsters

Why do we like it?

The main reason we like Mindful Monsters is because of the value-driven approach they take to persuading people to sign up for their subscription service.

As you enter the site, you are greeted by a video that shows parents and children playing with the cards while the parents talk about the benefits of them. Again, a great example of target audience knowledge, the company know it’ll be the parents who know more about mindfulness, and they’ll be making the purchase.

Whoever thought of this idea is a genius! It’s the epitome of content marketing, providing, valuable, useful information for free. Well, it’s not exactly free, but when you’re donating money to charity, it doesn’t feel like you’re losing anything.

The previous two websites show you don’t always have to go in for the direct-to-sale user journey, if you offer value and know your audience you’ll be able to succeed.


4. ArtTactic

ArtTactic is an Art Market analysis platform that provides bespoke, dynamic information on the changing art world. Many people may not think of art as a data-driven, analytical profession, but it is, and ArtTactic offers tremendous insight into this world.


Why do we like it?

One thing we love about the design is the placement of the Twitter logo. How often do you see businesses with 4-5 different social logos? Google Plus (who uses it anyway), Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn — why not focus on what you know you’re good at?

We checked their following on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram — with Twitter being the platform they had the most followers on.

While having a Twitter logo on your membership site isn’t necessarily going to win more business, customers often want to keep up with company news and social media is the best place to do it.

We also love the membership page, which gives the user clarity on what they get with each package, how much it costs, and how much they’ll save.

art tactic membership

We like the colour contrast between the three blocks as well. The black makes the product look sleek and professional, the whitespace creates breathing space, and the red creates urgency.

5. Agnitus

Agnitus is an educational platform designed to offer children various games that help them learn and have fun at the same time. The games are available on a variety of devices and allow the parent to view reports based on skills like drawing and reading.

Why do we like it?

We like the boldness of the Agnitus website; there are two clear call-to-actions on the homepage which both encourage the visitor to sign-up for the free trial.

The first is a pop-up which the user can navigate away from, and a banner at the fold which is designed to get the user’s attention as they scroll.

agnitus homepage

Having a pop-up on your homepage is a little risky, it can make visitors think of your site as spammy. However, if you can convert users with this pop-up, then it’s warranted.

If you click away from the pop-up, you’re still left with the option to sign-up for the email with the banner below.

Something else we noticed is that the website only contains one page. While we think this is great for simplifying the user journey, it doesn’t offer much in terms of depth.

6. Netflix

Netflix is a subscription-based media streaming service that is focused on film and TV series. The company were originally a multi-rental service similar to Blockbuster (who charged for late fees) that changed to a subscription model in 1997, which enabled customers to rent a certain amount of titles per month.


Why do we like it?

The Netflix user journey is a customer generation machine! Everything has been stripped back to promote one thing, take our free trial, then start paying for it if you like it.

The word free is mentioned eleven times, and the ‘WATCH FOR FREE’ CTA appears six times as well. Similar to Agnitus, Netflix wants to keep you on one page so they can prevent complex user journeys and get conversions.

Once you click on the CTA, you’ll be taken to another page where you create your account and start watching. You could be up and running in the space of a few minutes, and that’s attractive to people (especially if they don’t have to pay!).

Also, it’s clear Netflix have a clear understanding of their user and their user journey, as all relevant questions are answered such as:

  • How does a free trial work
  • What device can I watch on
  • Do I need the internet?
  • When do I have to start paying?

If you can answer all these queries on one page, why complicate your user journey any further?

further reading

Considering redesigning your subscription site? Visit this article

Take the user journey test on your website!

If you want to find out how effective the user journey of your website is, you should take the test yourself! See how long it takes for you to pick the product or membership and purchase it, and note down the obstacles you face along the way. You can ask someone else to do it as well, so your view isn’t biased.

If it takes too long, or there are too many obstacles that drive people away from your site, you should consider a subscription website design.


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