Having a membership area on a website might not just be a good idea, but a necessity.
If you decide to add one on your website, you’ll want to carefully consider your requirements as not all membership plugins are the same.
Choosing the right plugin requires research on the various features offered and the implementation approach used by the respective developers.
Below is our list of the top 5 WordPress Membership Plugins along with a short review of their key features.
WordPress Membership Plugins
If you have no coding experience at all, then it can be costly to add an important feature to your website. But when it’s about adding membership area to your website, then your coding experience is totally irrelevant if you choose to use Wishlist.
If anyone judges your programming skill by the quality of your members area, the with its step-by-step installation process, video tutorials, great online documentation and customer support, Wishlist will make you look as a master of programming.
This plugin is not free, but one must admit that it is moderately priced in comparison to similar plugins. With the plugin you’ll also get 1 year of free unlimited support and updates.
Its best features are:
- Membership Levels – you can offer unlimited number of membership plans
- Subscription Length Control – you can manually or automatically expire memberships, after period of time that YOU choose
- Payment Gateways – ClickBank, PayPal, 1ShoppingCart, Cydec and Infusionsoft
- Total Content Protection – You’re in total control. Members can access only contents you assign to members group. You may restrict or allow posts, pages, categories or comments. Everything’s up to you.
- Secure RSS Feeds – members can view their members area materials by RSS reader of their choice
- Partial Content Display – Use snippets to tease non-members
- Custom Error Pages – custom design error page for content to which member has no permission to view
- Login Redirection – different redirection page for members login, for different members experience
With a Multi-Site licence you’ll also get two custom membership themes, “The Top 5 Membership Models” Audio, “Plugins that Rock” Webinar and over 300 Membership Icons.
S2 Member is another great memberships plugin that is free to use, and available on the WordPress plugins repository.
Note that there also is a premium version of it, that of course, has more features than the free one. No matter which version you choose, don’t forget to register to s2Member website, since it has great forum where you can find solution to your toughest problems.
One of the main characteristics of this plugin is that it’s super-easy to use, but when it comes to WordPress, this is not a big news. In general, you would most benefit out of its following features:
- Membership Levels – s2Member allows you to offer different membership levels. The free version supports only four membership levels, but the premium version allows unlimited number of membership levels
- Login Widget – The premium version offers specially designed Login Widget
- Payment Gateways – PayPal, Authorize.net, Google Checkout, Clickbank and an ability to use Coupon Codes
- Autoresponders – Mailchimp and Aweber
- Restricted Content Access – choose which content will be available to certain member levels
- Shortcodes – the simplicity of use of s2Member is brought to an even easier level by simple shortcode placement
- Social Networking – both free and premium version of s2Member are compatible with BuddyPress
- Developer Friendly – s2Member architecture is highly optimized and its source code is available for modification
When you give your trust to a largest premium plugin and theme community on the web, then it’s probably in a good hands. WPMU DEV is such place, and its membership plugin is certainly not lacking high quality.
As expected, WPMU Membership plugin is extremely user-friendly and well-documented, and will help you to build your members area and start charging for your content in under an hour after you install it.
There is a free, lite version of WPMU Membership. It is fully functional, but it will offer you only two membership levels, and a basic set of rules which are enough to get you started. But the paid version will offer:
- Flexible membership options – create unlimited number of membership levels
- Subscription Length Control – easily set up the length on membership periods
- Custom Payment Gateways – Authorize.NET, 2Checkout, PayPal Express are at your disposal, but if you need, you can add your own
- Dran-and-drop – easily customize your membership website to fit your ideas
- Shortcode Access Control – WPMU Membership allows you to control access to content using shortcodes
- Social Networking – suppoert for BuddyPress means that you can create your own paid social network
- Clef Wave – cutting edge login. No usernames and passwords. Allow your members to login via their smartphones
With the paid version, besides the continuous updates, you’ll get the options for Memberships by Invitation Only, Auto Renewal Warning, Coupon Generator, Short Code Content Protection and much more.
Paid Memberships Pro
If you’re out for a great, but free, memberships plugin, than Paid Memberships Pro is a great choice for you.
You can download it for free, right from the WordPress plugins repository. It’s not that just the plugin is free , but its documentation and source code are also free to download.
So, if you’re a developer, then you can fully customize it to fit your needs, but for 97$ you’ll get access to it’s valuable support and members forum. Its great advantage is that it works with every WordPress theme, and it’s constantly updated with add-ons and sister plugins.
Its key features are:
- Membership Levels – offer different membership plans, hierarchical (gold, silver, bronze) or topic-oriented model
- Flexible Pricing and Trials – unique pricing information for each membership level (recurring billing cycle, free or reduced-price trial period and so on…)
- Payment Gateways – Stripe, Authorize.net with ARB, Braintree Payments, PayPal’s Website Payments Pro and PayPal Express.
- Content Access by Level – Easily lock down your content and control access for each membership level
- Search Engine Optimized – Allows search engine bot to crawl and index your lock content
- Customize Advertising – Block ads with a built-in PHP function in order to hide it or customize it to site members
- Member Reports – Access detailed reports about members visits, views, logins and volume of sales and revenue.
Digital Access Pass
Digital Access Pass is a premium WordPress plugin, and, as its developers want to introduce it, is plug-n-play easy and robust out of the box.
Not that it’s just super easy to use it, but it has fantastic technical support which is a guarantee that you’ll never be alone in solving eventual problems with your website’s members area. Digital Access Pass has a vast variety of features, but one that catch the eye the most are:
- Unlimited Membership Levels – it’s up to you to decide about the types and number of membership levels to offer
- Teaser Content (“Sneak Peek”) – show just a preview of the content, and make the members love it even more
- Sequential Content Delivery – People at Digital Access Pass are the one that actually invented “Content Dripping”. Feed your members with your websites content little-by-little over time
- Amazon SES Integration – This feature sets you free of email services like Aweber and GetResponse
- On-Site Credit Card Processing – fast and easy payments with Stripe, Authorize.net and Paypal Website Payments Pro
- Dime Sales – automatically change the product’s price by number of sales or after certain period of time
- Secure RSS Feeds – members only “Feed Key” protected RSS feed
- Instant Affiliates – make your members affiliates by assigning them unique affiliate link
- Shortcodes – you can easily protect part of your posts or pages by simply adding a shortcode.
This was our list of top 5 WordPress membership plugin. As we said at the beginnin, it’s not an easy task to find the best plugin that meets your needs. But I hope that I have put you in the right direction.
If you’re using one of these plugins, or another, please share the pros / cons based on your experience.