Protecting website content is always a smart idea from the security and the marketing point of view. All WordPress posts and pages can be viewed by everyone however, by default. To manage and protect your content and make it available for only selected people (read members) a membership plugin can be handy.
WordPress does have a simpler option of making posts private or public protected, to secure your content but this option is unfeasible in many ways.
Firstly, you would have to set different passwords for every post you create and maintain a database for the same and secondly, give your selected users all these passwords and expect them to keep them straight all the time! You can see the impracticality of this option if you have a large number of posts and subscribers.
Sidestepping this hassle is possible with the help of a membership plugin.
WP-Members is one of the oldest membership management plugins for WordPress and one of the most popular ones, as its 70,000+ downloads attest to.
WP-Members might seem spartan in the features it offers; but it fulfills beautifully, all the basic requirements of a membership plugin.
Let us discuss these features in greater detail.
WP-Members integrates completely with every possible theme without necessitating any changes in it. It can be scaled as required so that content can be displayed completely or partially. There are several stylesheets available that can be used to change the look and feel of the Registration forms for the given theme. Customs stylesheets can be added too.
The plugin lets you block and unblock several posts simultaneously. A clean user interface lets you find settings quickly and easily. Moreover, WP-Members generates automatic suggestions that let you know if your content is being exposed through any other channels.
Variable Registration Fields
WP-Members has inbuilt registration fields like name, e-mail, telephone number, etc. Additionally, it also allows for customization and integration of new fields into your registration form. The forms have a drag and drop interface and the field order can be changed easily.
This helps you make the site uniquely yours and prevents visitors from having to move from page to page for completing the registration process.
Selective Page Creation
The plugin does not inherently create Login, User Profile and Registration pages; instead it asks you if these are to be embedded within existing ones.
You can create a dedicated page for logging in of course, but adding these to your Blog page or Home Page provides a quicklink for converting readers to members. Several other shortcodes for creating different pages are also available.
WP-Members has over a 100 hooks and filters for adding every function you need. The core plugin is very light and works on add-ons and modules to leverage advanced functionalities. Some of the integrations available include:
- The MailChimp integration plugin for generating newsletters to be sent to your subscribers
- Invite Codes plugin for add a Invitation-Only criteria for exclusive content
- The PayPal Subscription add-on for integrating payment gateways with your site
- The Logged In Menus creation plugin for creating various, dynamic menus which are configured to display differently for members and visitors.
Besides these, WP-Members supports several other plugins and premium add-ons which can be downloaded from their support site. These let you add only the necessary functionalities instead of overburdening your site with advanced features that you might never even require.
Sidebar Login Widget
The sidebar login widget is a testament to how user-friendly WP-Members is. In addition to your separate, dedicated login page, the plugin allows you to add a sidebar login or registration widget to all your pages. It intuitively displays the login field inline with your content and is also localization ready.
To say the plugin is well-documented would be an understatement. WP-Members has extensive documentation for everything, from setting up and installation to using filters and hooks efficiently. This includes a Quick Start Guide, a Complete Users’ Guide and FAQ’s. Additionally, it also has help topics added in a sidebar on the WordPress interface so that documentation can be accessed from the site itself.
Everything said and done, WP-Members does what it does, perfectly.
However, it does have some shortcomings when compared to the features offered by newer plugins:
- WP-Members cannot be used to hide content absolutely. It always displays an excerpt from your post, to which complete access is granted after registration.
- It does not support multiple subscriptions, tiered membership plans or concurrent memberships.
- Content cannot be dripped out to users or displayed for trial periods.
- WP-Members has limited payment gateway integrations and ecommerce support.
WP-Members is an excellent option for premium content websites, clubs, newsletters and organizations with minimal requirements. It is an easy-to-install, lightweight plugin that has all the basic functionalities one could ask for in a membership plugin, plus a great support system.
If a standard, scalable, content protection plugin is what you are looking for, WP-Members is the right choice for you.
Comment to let us know your thoughts about WP-Members, or about any other membership plugins you would like to recommend!