There are a ton of blog posts and tutorials about creating a membership site and choosing the right WordPress plugin. Chris Lema has covered this territory in depth, with a recent review of 30 different membership plugins. Marcus Couch is soon launching Membership Coach to advise WordPress users on generating revenue with membership sites.
I am going to boil down some basics questions to ask, and a flowchart review to walk through before creating a membership website. It’s better to ask these questions BEFORE you get started/choose a plugin so you know what to look for and what needs to be configured once you start development.
Ask yourself or your client the following questions to help determine what kind of membership this site will need:
General Membership Site Questions
- What information do you need to gather from people before/when they become members?
- Do you need to approve new members or can anyone join?
- How will your members join: Do you want/need to be able to add users on the backend and/or will your users sign up themselves on the front end of your site?
- What is the purpose of membership?
- Do you just need to protect some content and make it available to registered members only?
- Do members need to interact with each other?
- Do you need to “drip” content to members over time?
- What kind of content will members be using?
- Do you really need Membership or would a password protected page do the trick or do you have many pages and a lot of content to be protected?
- Do people have to pay to become a member?
- Are all members the same or are there different levels/types of memberships?
- Is the membership recurring or one time/is it a subscription?
- Does the membership expire?
- What kind of member dashboard/interface do your members need to access?
- What parts of your site do you want to keep from any members?
- How much control do you want/need to have over the messaging that is associated with the membership “system” on your site?
- What should the messaging be (examples)
- Join Now
- Thank you for joining. Here is a link to the content you can now access.
- Thank you for requesting membership. We will let you know via email when your membership has been approved.
- This content is for members only. Login or Join Now.
- Your membership has expired. Join again.
- Your membership has expired. Contact us.
- What payment portal will you be using?
- Do you have an SSL on your site already?
- Do you need to offer coupons/discounted membership?
Here is a flowchart that outlines the process a visitor could encounter/follow when they come to your website, depending on whether they are already a member or not.
In an upcoming post I will go over different plugin options and configuration using a popular membership plugin.