Looking for WordPress Membership Systems

WordPress’ user and permission system is good, but if you want to allow people to register on your site to do something that’s not related to creating pages and blogging, it’s going to get a little weird.

Back at Ebullient, we did a prototype of a product, and in the rush, I extended the existing WordPress user registration system to allow registration from the front end. It took around a week, and I learned a lot more about that system than I wanted to know.

User registration systems are complex, though you’d never think they’d be. We’re so familar with them that we just overlook their moving parts. A typical user registration system has around fifteen screens or pages. It’s not just “login” and “welcome”. You have the password recovery, the registration form, the profile editing, and profile deletion.

WordPress comes with all that, so altering it to allow easier onboarding isn’t that hard, excepting the fact that the entire user experience is hard-coded into the application. Worse, if the system is updated, your changes are wiped out.

I should have looked at external solutions that would provide a login system that didn’t create users in the WordPress system.

There are a bunch of them.

WordPress membership Plugin comparison

Most seem to be of the “pay for content” model, or what I think of as the “pornsite” model where you give some away, on the site, and get monthly payment for the rest.

Others have content drips and mass marketing integrations. This is for the “make money fast with my $99 class” business model, where you are teaching people something, but withholding the valuable parts. You keep sending them email to get them to sign up.

Some seem to work with BuddyPress, so they can work more like a social network. That’s a different model where you’re charging money, basically, to keep the trolls away.

I’ll have to look into it and see if it matches what I need.

I’m replacing the old hacks to extend WP with a membership system. The business model is TBD, and this is more of a promotional product for listbuilding, so I’m actually inclined to write my own plugin with the following features:

  • Some kind of email module that pushes out a lot of reminders
  • Notification system layer, so users can choose mode of notification (email, mobile, ?)
  • Possibly laravel auth as the security system, so I don’t need to write it, and so we have an exit path.

I’ll need to set aside time to work on this.

WordPress Concepts and Parts for Beginners

(I’m helping a person on simbi.com learn about WordPress plugin development. Sometimes, an article will be produced to elaborate on a topic. This article explains WordPress concepts and components.)

WordPress isn’t just blogging or CMS software, it’s a framework for general website development. Like every framework, it comes with a huge library of objects that you’re supposed to use to create your applications. This article will describe many of these objects.
Continue reading WordPress Concepts and Parts for Beginners

Some Notes on Site Migration to WordPress

I have a tiny site, sign-in-sheet.com, that was an experiment to see if ads can pay; they can, but it’s a tiny site, with tiny revenues.

I ported it over to WordPress, and it took several hours. It took 9 and 1/3 hours, more or less.

The trade off is that it’s now easier to update.  I have a bunch of modified files that should be uploaded.

The site gets little traffic, but I basically spent less than a day making the initial site. It drives ad clicks, because you don’t have these dense, endless lists of options.  You search, land on a page, and see, along with the content, a big ad. Odds are, a vendor is remarketing something to you, so you are more likely to click.

Webmaster Tools Dinged Me

I found some unpublished printable forms, so added them to the site, growing the footprint. Since this site can now grow, with some effort, I decided to install the Yoast plugin to coach my writing.

Yoast produces an XML Sitemap, so I went over to Google Search Console, aka Webmaster Tools to see if the site was being indexed. As expected, it was out of date… but there were some improvements to the tools, one of them being some tools to analyze how the site will perform in a mobile phone.

There, I had some bad news. Google wants sites to be mobile-friendly. My theme was not.
At least not Google’s version. My CSS and HTML were responsive, and acceptable to my eyes… but Google couldn’t tell.

The lesson here is that you need to get into the search tools asap – meaning as you release the theme. It’ll add a few hours of work to the theme, though.