Things change rapidly in the WordPress world. The content in this post is more than a year old and may no longer represent best practices.
Sallie Goetsch kicked off the July 2018 East Bay WordPress Meetup with a review of the possible meanings of the word “membership” when it comes to WordPress plugins. Make sure you also look at the presentations by Diana Thompson, Bob Spies, and Sonja London.
- When we use the word “membership,” with reference to a website, what do we really mean?
- Most “membership” plugins actually offer content restriction: people are members of the website and those members get access to read, listen, or view. Newspaper website paywalls are an example of this kind of membership.
- If you’re building a website for members of an organization that exists outside of your website–like a meetup or a professional association–you might need a different type of plugin, or an add-on for a typical “membership” plugin. A common need organizations of this type have is for member directories.
- If you want your members to be able to interact with each other, you need what I think of as a community plugin, something that allows you to create your own personal social network.
- Sometimes you want all of those things together. In that case, don’t expect the site to be simple to set up.
- There is no “best” membership plugin for all uses cases. The best plugin for you depends on how you’re defining “membership.”
Content Restriction Plugins
Note that there are many more content-restriction plugins than this, as well as some third-party services. These are some of the most popular plus those discussed by other presenters at the July 2018 meetup.
Member Directory Plugins
- AMR Users (members must be WP users)
- Participants Database (members do not need to be WP users)
- Ultimate Member (free version; tutorial by Chris Lema)
- Connections (members do not need to be WP users)
Connections is a bit bloated for a simple member directory. Participants Database also lets people sign up as volunteers, at which point they are added to the list.
Community & Social Network Plugins
- BuddyPress (not for the faint of heart)
- bbPress (when you just need forums)
- PeepSo (freemium and slicker than BuddyPress)
- Users Ultra (free or pro)
- Ultimate Member (with paid add-ons)
Largest Feature Set/Most Add-ons/Most Extensible
- Paid Memberships Pro
- Restrict Content Pro