Membership websites are an effective way to provide premium content to paid users while still providing value to newcomers. They’re also popular for running meetup groups, social networking sites, private coaching groups, educational platforms, and marketplace pages.
Regardless of your site’s content, hosting a membership website on WordPress is not difficult, and it’s affordable if you get the right membership plugin. Here are some of the best membership plugins to consider this year.
The top-selling WordPress membership plugin on Code Canyon is UserPro. Created by Deluxe Themes, a Code Canyon “Elite Author,” this plugin has more than 18k sales, and its 1.6k reviews give it a 4.5-star rating.
UserPro offers an array of useful and convenient features:
- Seamless integration with Paypal, WooCommerce, BuddyPress, SVG Avatars, and MyCred
- Email marketing integration with Campaign Monitor, MailChimp, AWeber, feedblitz, and Mailster
- Allows for custom fields on forms
- User account verification
- Profile layouts are aesthetically pleasing
- Options for assigning badges and achievements to users
- Searchable member list
- Custom content restrictions
- Functions as a social network; displays a timeline of posts similar to Facebook
- Supports multi-language translation
- Add-ons are available to add more functionality, such as a payment gateway, private messaging, media galleries, and live chat
This plugin is perfect for any kind of membership website, especially if you’re an entrepreneur who sells monthly digital content like webinars, recorded coaching sessions, and marketing courses.
Test drive the UserPro demo on Code Canyon and experience it for yourself.
#2 Ultimate Membership Pro
Ultimate Membership Pro is Code Canyon’s second-best-selling membership plugin for WordPress, with nearly 14k sold and 468 reviews for an overall 4.5-star rating.
Like UserPro, Ultimate Membership Pro is GDPR-compliant, but this plugin supplies 35 add-ons in the purchase price. It’s perfect for coaches, affiliates, and e-commerce sites that offer members-only deals.
Key features include:
- Paid memberships with multiple payment levels; also allows free memberships
- Content restriction for pages, categories, sections, images, and even navigation menus
- Allows unlimited members and subscriptions
- Multiple payment options include PayPal, Stripe, 2CheckOut, BrainTree, Authorize.Net, and Payza
- Accepts offline payments through bank transfer
- Users can log in through popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter
- Restricts certain menu items to specific user groups
- Offers discounts for paid memberships
- Free trial for new users; you set the trial period
- Verified accounts through email confirmation
- Custom fields for forms
- Integrates with 9 email marketing platforms
The features don’t end there. Head over to Code Canyon, check out the additional features and get access to the Membership Pro live demo.
#3 Private Content
As another GDPR-compliant membership plugin, Private Content protects specified content by member group, including pages, menus, categories, widgets, and comments. There’s even a lockdown mode that hides your entire website with one click.
This membership plugin boasts a few unique features. For example, it tracks what logged-in users do so you can use that information for targeted marketing campaigns.
It also provides users with a truly private sector of the site where they can post personal content that nobody else can see. This might come in handy for membership-based learning platforms where students need to take notes.
With Private Content, if you want to allow users to pay for subscriptions, you’ll need the Premium Plan add-on, which entails a monthly fee. However, the fee may be recovered when you generate enough paid memberships.
As with other plugins, the developer of Private Content offers add-ons. Other plugins will offer add-ons to enhance standard user features, but certain Private Content add-ons are more technical in nature.
For example, the Secure Links add-on generates a compact, anonymous, secure link for shared files. The original link will never be visible to anyone, so only users in the designated category will have access.
Another example is the User Data add-on, which equips you to create unlimited fields to record as much information from your members as you want. This add-on is great for collecting information you can use to segment participants for more targeted email marketing.
Private Content also possesses an extensively documented API with dozens of actions and filters for customization.
Private Content features:
- Multi-language support on the front end and back end
- Front-end elements are already translated into 23 languages
- Automatic plugin updates
- Great support; tickets are generally answered in less than 12 hours, 7 days a week
- New features are added continually
- Frequent updates quickly address bugs
- Unlimited user levels
- Google Analytics integration
- Direct WordPress users bulk import
- Content restriction systems based on user categories or custom definitions through the API
- 1-click website lockdown
- User self-deletion box
To learn more and launch the Private Content demo, check out Private Content on Code Canyon.
#4 WP Ultimo
WP Ultimo is a basic membership plugin that has standard features such as unlimited plans and add-ons to expand functionality. It stands apart from other membership plugins by offering some user-centric features:
- Create trial memberships and coupons easily
- Refund payments with one click
- Users can select a template on signup or you can assign a template to each user group
WP Ultimo does have limitations, however. For instance, payment gateways are limited to Stripe and PayPal, though the developers have announced plans to add more gateways in the future.
Although it’s basic, this is perfect when you desire simplicity above all. Meetup groups, for example, don’t need the complexities in other plugins.
Additional plugins to test drive
Other WordPress membership plugins you might find useful are MemberPress, LearnDash, Restrict Content Pro, and S2Member. WPBeginner compares these plugins to break down the pros and cons, usability, and cost.
These plugins entail more limitations than the ones above, but are still worth looking into. You might not need a wide array of features if your requirements are fairly simple.
Your membership site doesn’t have to be expensive
You don’t have to pay tens of thousands of dollars to build a custom membership site from scratch. WordPress furnishes a strong foundation for developers to create plugins that do the job.
While you’re figuring out which plugin will power your membership site, don’t forget to test each demo thoroughly from the front and back end. Request an admin demo if one isn’t offered.
If you can’t test the back end, but you’re excited about the plugin, make the purchase only if you can stand to lose the cash. Most membership plugins cost between $20 and $40, so if you buy the wrong one, you’ll recover.
Remember to choose your membership plugin based on what you need, not how much it costs. Don’t assume a higher price means you’ll get more features.
Make a list of the features you absolutely need, and others you’re willing to compromise on. Ideally, you should only have to build your membership site once, so make sure you’ve got the best plugin for your objectives before the launch.