Want to Build Your Membership Website with WordPress?
Here’s what you need to know

Membership websites are often seen as a golden ticket for business owners—consistent revenue, engaged community and a platform to showcase your expertise. But having the right foundations in place to ensure this success is essential.

WordPress is often the go-to for creating membership websites, often because you can add membership functionality to your existing business website. But what do you really need to consider to turn it into a success?

In this blog post, I’m going to delve into the basics you need to know about using WordPress to create a membership community on your website.

Decide on the Features and Functionality You Want in Your Membership Website

When you’re creating a WordPress membership site, there are some boxes you’ll definitely want to tick. For instance, content restriction is a must – you’ll want to limit access to your premium content to only those who’ve paid for the privilege.

Payment gateways are another must-have. Choose gateways that are secure and can process payments smoothly, offering options like one-time payments, subscriptions and even free trials. Stripe, PayPal and WorldPay are commonly used for this but you should consider how much they cost and the functionality they offer before making your decision.

Do you want different types of membership? Membership levels give you the chance to create a tiered system, which can add value and variety for your members. For example, you might have a free basic level for existing clients or those who have purchased a course from you, with premium paid levels for members looking for more 1-2-1 support, extra content, webinars, etc.

Lastly, managing these members shouldn’t be a headache. Find a system that helps you do this with minimum fuss, so you can focus on delivering great content.

Choosing the Right Membership Plugin for Your WordPress Website

Selecting the right plugin for your WordPress membership site is a pivotal decision that can significantly impact its functionality and user experience. Each plugin offers a set of features tailored to specific needs and understanding these can guide you to make an informed choice.

Wishlist Member is often the go-to for those who want stringent control over content access and versatile membership-level options. This plugin integrates well with WordPress, allowing you to restrict content access down to individual posts, pages, or categories.

Wishlist Member also offers multiple membership levels, each with its own set of permissions and benefits. So, if you’re looking to create a site that offers a range of membership options with different access levels, Wishlist Member is a strong contender.

LearnDash, on the other hand, is a plugin designed specifically for educational platforms. Its suite of features includes options for comprehensive course creation, quizzes and grading systems. A fun aspect of LearnDash is that it enables you to use gamification strategies, such as badges and certificates, to increase user engagement.How to use WordPress for your membership community website - picture of people around a table putting they hands together in the centre

LearnDash offers excellent analytics tools to track user progress and optimise your courses over time. So, if your membership site focuses on education or training, LearnDash would be an ideal choice.

MemberPress is a robust plugin designed for those who seek an all-in-one solution. It offers comprehensive membership management features that make it easier to handle subscriptions, renewals and cancellations.

MemberPress supports multiple payment gateways, giving you and your users flexibility in transaction methods. This can particularly be beneficial if your audience is international and you need to use different payment methods for different locations.

Its ease of setup and versatility make MemberPress a solid choice for those who want both efficient membership management and a variety of payment options.

Remember that the plugin you choose should align closely with the specific goals and functionalities you have in mind for your membership site. Whether it’s Wishlist Member for content restriction and membership levels, LearnDash for an educational focus, or MemberPress for all-encompassing membership management and payment flexibility, the right choice can greatly enhance the success of your membership website.

Designing Your Membership Website for a Stellar User Experience

User experience can be a deal-breaker. It doesn’t matter how many features you pack into your site if it’s a nightmare to navigate. Your design should be clean but not sterile, intuitive but not patronising. I know, it sounds confusing but if you remember to keep things simple and straightforward, with the aim of guiding the user without overwhelming them you can’t go too wrong.

One of the most important aspects to get right is a seamless sign-up process. Think of it as onboarding for a new job; you want to make sure the new recruits know exactly where they’re going and why. That way they’ll get stuck into what your membership has to offer straight away!

Securing Your Membership Website

Security isn’t glamorous but it is essential. You’re asking people to trust you with their data, not to mention their payment details.

Start with the basics—secure passwords and two-factor authentication. Regular security audits should be part of your routine. Remember that GDPR compliance and an SSL certificate aren’t just buzzwords; they’re non-negotiables for protecting user data and establishing trust in you and your website.

While we’re talking about trust and security, let’s get a bit techy for a minute or so.

Your site should load fast; no one has the patience for buffering these days. Look into caching solutions and image optimisation to keep your site snappy. Your hosting provider should be reliable, offer excellent uptime and be there for you when things go south because let’s face it, sometimes they do.

And make sure you’re keeping your website updated to ensure everything continues to work exactly as you intend, so you don’t wake up to an inbox full of emails from your members complaining they can’t access their membership because the site went down overnight!

Creating a successful WordPress membership site is an involved process but it’s also incredibly rewarding. By paying careful attention to features, user experience and all those nitty-gritty details, you set yourself up for a win.

There’s a whole world of guides and resources out there to help you get started. However, if navigating through all the options feels overwhelming, feel free to contact me. I can take on the responsibility of building your membership site, allowing you to enjoy the advantages without the associated stress.