Choose Wisely: A Look At Different Types Of Membership Plugins

Creating a membership website is easier than ever, Learn how to use & choose best membership WordPress plugins, different types, & usage tips

By Claudio Pires
Updated on July 8, 2023
Choose Wisely: A Look At Different Types Of Membership Plugins

Creating a membership website is easier than ever. Popular platforms such as WordPress have spawned a large marketplace of upgrades and enhancements to choose from, including many membership plugins. Learn how to use and choose the best membership WordPress plugin, different types, and usage tips.

Searching the WordPress plugin repository with the term “membership” yields more than 39 pages of results. So while it is easy to create a membership website by installing a WordPress membership plugin, choosing which membership plugins to use can be challenging.

A Look At Different Types Of Membership Plugin

Step One: Pick a website platform and membership plugins

Firstly, if you’re not sure that WordPress is the best platform for your membership website, consider that WordPress powers 60% of websites that use content management systems. As free, open-source software, WordPress is the most popular platform for developers to create plugins.

That means if you want to add website functionality beyond your membership management software, you are likely to find a WordPress plugin to achieve that goal.

Squarespace and Weebly are other popular platforms that are not as robust as WordPress but do have plugins available to add on membership software.

For example, if you have an existing website in Squarespace, it is worth exploring what Squarespace membership plugins are available. It’s nice when you only have to learn how to use one new thing, such as membership software, versus learning that as well as how to perform edits or build in a new platform.

Helpful tips with membership plugins:

  • There are instances where a membership plugin will have more robust features in one platform versus another. So as you are narrowing your choices it is worth inquiring about any limitations across platforms.
  • In the case of some membership software providers, you may have to build a portion of your website in that platform to access all features. Unfortunately, that locks you into ongoing payments for both services and will force you to rebuild your website from scratch if you want to use a different platform for your website or membership software later.

Step Two: Identify the type of membership plugin you need

Secondly, membership software falls into two categories — systems for membership organizations and systems for creators of content or subscription products. Many plugins will have features that overlap both models but will be stronger in one area. You should be able to tell which category a plugin falls within by reviewing its feature list.

  • Membership organizations: Trade associations, clubs, chambers of commerce, not-for-profits, societies, and professional groups often look for features like membership directories, event registration and invoicing. Some of the subtypes of this category include:
    • Membership management software
    • Membership CRM
    • Member directory software
    • Club software
    • Golf club management software
    • Yacht club management software
    • Chamber of commerce software
    • Association management software
    • Church management software
    • Donor management systems
    • Constituent engagement software
    • Event listings platforms
    • Co-working management platforms
  • Content generators:  Subject matter experts, coaches, bloggers and those with educational or course content want to sell and restrict access to valuable content. Content generators will often want features such as selling digital downloads, offering drip content, and delivering courses online. Subtypes of this category include:
    • Learning management systems
    • Coaching software
    • Content subscription software
    • Community membership software
    • Digital download systems

Step 3: Narrow the field of membership plugin choices

Research is time-consuming, but it’s the best way to prevent mistakes. If you are part of an existing membership organization, document your current membership processes using different types of membership WordPress plugins to choose.

Regardless of your status as an existing membership organization or a new venture, you should sign up for demos, read feature lists and talk to various membership management software providers. Use Google sheets to document your findings so you can share the information you are gathering with colleagues. In your spreadsheet, create the following columns:

  • Must-have features (each feature should have its own column),
  • Integrations,
  • Nice-to-have features,
  • Process requirements (Example: new members are not charged until their trial period ends),
  • Software cost and setup fees,
  • Cost per admin seat (if applicable),
  • Support options (and cost), and
  • Review stars/rating information using different types of membership plugins.

Best Membership WordPress Plugins List

  1. MemberPress
  2. Paid Memberships Pro
  3. Restrict Content Pro
  4. WooCommerce Memberships
  5. MemberMouse
  6. S2Member
  7. LearnDash
  8. Ultimate Membership Pro
  9. WP-Members
  10. aMember Pro
  11. ARMember
  12. Magic Members
  13. Membership by Supsystic
  14. Memberful WP
  15. WP Membership
  16. Simple Membership
  17. Members
  18. ProfileGrid
  19. UserPro
  20. Private Content.

Conclusion of Membership Plugins

Finally, use the rows to list the plugins you’re considering; take notes in each column as you do research. Note the responsiveness of the providers you are considering. If their sales team is good, hopefully, their customer service team will match that level of responsiveness.

In conclusion, you can find other tips here to learn how to pick the best plugins for your membership website. I hope this guide helps you to learn how to use & choose the best membership WordPress plugins, different types, & usage tips.

Amy Hufford works at MembershipWorks as a Technologist. She has consulted in the nonprofit and membership technology space for 20+ years. This journey has led her to gain experience with more than 10 membership software platforms, including custom code solutions.

Claudio Pires

Claudio Pires is the co-founder of Visualmodo, a renowned company in web development and design. With over 15 years of experience, Claudio has honed his skills in content creation, web development support, and senior web designer. A trilingual expert fluent in English, Portuguese, and Spanish, he brings a global perspective to his work. Beyond his professional endeavors, Claudio is an active YouTuber, sharing his insights and expertise with a broader audience. Based in Brazil, Claudio continues to push the boundaries of web design and digital content, making him a pivotal figure in the industry.