How to Create a Website with Membership and User Login

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Membership sites are very popular these days because they let you build your own community. Instead of relying on social media for your audience, you can create your own group of members on your own platform (and maybe even charge for membership, if you want to make some money).

Best of all, creating a membership site isn’t that difficult…as long as you have the right tools. In fact, you can set everything up with zero technical knowledge required.

In this post, we’re going to tell you what those tools are. Then, we’ll show you step-by-step how to create a website with membership and user login.

Let’s dig in!

What You Need to Create a Website With Membership and User Login

Before we get to the tutorial, let’s talk about the tools that you need to create a user-friendly site with membership and login functionality.

First, you’ll need WordPress for the base of your site. If you’re not familiar with it, WordPress is the most popular way to make a website by far – it powers over 42.5% of all the websites on the Internet.

But while WordPress does include support for user registration in the core software, it’s pretty limited and not very user-friendly – so you’ll want to extend it with one or more plugins.

Add Membership Functionality With Paid Member Subscriptions

To expand your site’s membership functionality, you can use the Paid Member Subscriptions plugin.

Paid Member Subscriptions is a full WordPress membership solution. It helps you:

  • Create unlimited membership levels.
  • Offer custom registration and login forms for your members to use.
  • Restrict content on your site based on your membership levels.
  • Charge one-time or recurring payments for membership (you can also offer free membership levels).
  • Manage all of your members from your WordPress dashboard.

Basically, Paid Member Subscriptions is all you need to create a website with membership and user login on WordPress.

Extend Registration and User Profiles With Profile Builder

If you want even more control over registration/login behavior and user profile management, you can also pair Paid Member Subscriptions with the Profile Builder plugin.

Profile Builder is a full solution for WordPress registration and user profiles. At a basic level, Profile Builder lets you create and customize three key forms:

  • Registration – you can create a custom registration form that you display anywhere on your site. You’ll also be able to control the fields that appear on the form, including collecting custom information from new registrants.
  • Login – you can create your own user login form that replaces the default WordPress login system.
  • Edit Profile – once users register, you can let them edit some or all of their profile details from the frontend of your site.

It also just generally gives you more control over registration and login behavior, such as setting up automatic after login/registration redirects or requiring manual admin approval for some types of users.

How to Create a Website with Membership and User Login

Now, let’s get into the step-by-step guide of how to create a website with membership and user login.

For this tutorial, the only thing that we’ll assume is that you’ve already set up your basic WordPress site. Once you have a working WordPress site, we’ll show you everything you need to do to set up the membership and user login functionality.

For the core functionality, you only need the Paid Member Subscriptions plugin. However, we’ll also show you how to extend your registration and edit profile features using Profile Builder if desired.

To begin, make sure to install and activate the Paid Member Subscriptions plugin. You can use the free version at WordPress.org for a lot of what we cover, but we’ll also note some areas where you might want the paid version.

Paid Member Subscriptions Pro

The best plugin to create a website with membership and user login.

Get the plugin

Or download FREE version

1. Follow the Paid Member Subscriptions Setup Wizard

As soon as you activate the Paid Member Subscriptions plugin, it should automatically launch its setup wizard to help you configure some important basics.

If not, you can manually launch the setup wizard by going to the Paid Member Subscriptions area in your WordPress dashboard and clicking the Open Setup Wizard button.

In the first step of the setup wizard, click the button to have the plugin create key membership pages for you, such as registration, login, and account management. Then, you can also configure some basic login/registration behavior:

Paid Member Subscriptions setup wizard

On the next step, you can configure the payment methods that you want to accept if you plan to charge some/all of your members for access to your site (more on this next). If you’re not sure about this, you can always set this up later, so don’t stress too much:

Payment methods

And that’s it for the wizard!

2. Set Up Your Membership Levels (Subscription Plans)

Next, you’ll want to create your membership levels, which the plugin calls “Subscription Plans”. You’ll use membership levels to control how much access different types of members have to your site.

For example, some members might get access to all your content, while other members might only get limited access.

With Paid Member Subscriptions, you can create both free and paid membership levels. A common approach is to have a limited free tier and then one or more paid tiers. For the paid tiers, you can charge people one-time fees or recurring payments.

Create a Membership Level

To create your first membership level, head to Paid Member Subscriptions → Subscription Plans → Add New.

First, you can give it a name. This is the name that will appear when people choose the plan. If you’re not sure what to name it, you can check out our guide to naming your membership levels.

Set Up Pricing and Access

Below that, you can enter the duration and price of the plan.

With the free version of Paid Member Subscriptions, you can offer free membership plans or charge a one-time price. Just set the price equal to zero if you want to make the subscription plan free:

Membership levels

With Paid Member Subscriptions Pro, you can also charge automatic recurring subscriptions, along with things like free trials or one-time sign-up fees.

When you’re finished, click Save Subscription to save your plan.

Set Up More Plans If Needed

Now, you can set up more membership plans if needed.

If your plans aren’t connected to one another, you can just go to Subscription Plans → Add New again to create a new plan.

However, you might also have a tiered set of plans where the plans are arranged hierarchically and members can upgrade to a higher-tier plan or downgrade to a lower-tier plan.

In this case, you’ll want to add your plans as upgrades or downgrades.

For example, let’s say you want to create an upgrade to the plan that you just created. Head to the Subscription Plans area and hover over the existing plan. Then, click the Add Upgrade option:

Add upgrade

Then, you’ll get the same screen where you can configure the name, pricing, access duration, etc.

When you go back to the Subscription Plans area, you can see the hierarchy of your plans and rearrange them using the arrows if needed:

Different membership levels

3. Customize Your Key Pages (Registration, Account, Etc.)

During the setup wizard, Paid Member Subscriptions automatically created four key pages for your membership site. Those pages are:

  1. Account
  2. Login
  3. Password Reset
  4. Register

These pages are ready to go right away. However, you might want to add some of your own unique content to them to personalize them for your site. For example, you might want to add some text to the registration page.

To make these edits, go to the Pages area in your WordPress dashboard and edit one of the pages. You can add as much content as you want – just don’t remove the shortcode that’s there.

For example, on the registration page, the registration form will appear wherever the [pms-register] shortcode is located.

Registration page

Later on, we’ll show you how you can use the Profile Builder plugin to get even more control over your registration page.

4. Restrict Members-Only Content

At this point, you’ve created your membership levels and you’ve made it so that people can sign up for free or paid plans via your registration page.

For the final touch, you need to restrict the content that you want to only be available for members.

There are two ways to restrict content – piece by piece or with bulk restriction. Let’s go through both…

How to Restrict Individual Pieces of Content

To restrict a single piece of content, open the editor for that content. Then, scroll down to the new Content Restriction box.

Here, you can restrict the content for all logged-in users (regardless of subscription plan) or for specific subscription plans:

Restrict content

How to Bulk Restrict Content

With Paid Member Subscriptions Pro, you also have the option to bulk restrict content. For example, you can restrict all of the posts in a certain category or of a certain post type.

To get started, make sure to purchase at least the Hobbyist license and then install the Global Content Restriction add-on.

Then, you can bulk restrict content by going to Paid Member Subscriptions → Subscription Plans and editing the plan that you want to bulk restrict content for.

You’ll get a new Global Content Restriction box where you can set up rules. For example, if you bulk restrict the “Gold Members Content” category, then you can automatically restrict access to all the posts within this category:

Bulk restrict content

How to Drip Content Over Time

Instead of making all the content available to members right away, a lot of membership communities like to “drip” content over time. For example, you might give members access to one new piece of content every week during their membership. This encourages them to stick around and keep subscribing.

With the Paid Member Subscriptions Pro, you can add support for content dripping via the Content Dripping add-on.

With the add-on active, you can go to Paid Member Subscriptions → Content Drip Sets to set up content dripping sequences for different subscription plans:

Content dripping

5. Explore Other Paid Member Subscriptions Settings

At this point in our tutorial on how to create a website with membership and user login, you’re pretty much done. That is, your membership community is fully working.

However, you might want to explore Paid Member Subscription’s settings to see if there are any smaller options that you want to tweak for your site.

You can access these settings by going to Paid Member Subscriptions → Settings. You’ll get five different tabs:

  • General – a range of general settings for login behavior, core pages, account sharing, and more.
  • Payments – configure everything to do with payments on your site.
  • Content Restriction – configure content restriction behavior, including the default message that displays when a visitor doesn’t have access to content.
  • E-Mails – configure the emails that your site sends to users.
  • Misc – some miscellaneous settings for things like GDPR compliance and anti-spam protection.

PMS settings area

You can also browse all of the available add-ons by going to Paid Member Subscriptions → Add-ons.

How to Extend Registration and Profile Functionality (Optional)

This section is totally optional. But if you want more control over your membership site’s registration and user profile features, you can pair Paid Member Subscriptions with the Profile Builder plugin.

Like Paid Member Subscriptions, Profile Builder comes in both a free version and a paid version:

  • The free version is fine if you just need the default WordPress user profile fields – e.g. name, email, biography, etc.
  • The Pro version lets you add your own custom fields. You’ll want this if you’d like to collect custom information from people when they register for your member site.

We’ll use the paid version for this example so that we can show the custom fields, but the basic interface will be the same for the free version.

Profile Builder Pro

Create beautiful front-end registration and profile forms with custom fields. Setup member directories, custom redirects, cutomize user emails & more using the all in one user management plugin.

Get the plugin

Or download FREE version

Customize Your Registration Form

To begin, make sure to install and activate the plugin. Then, go to Profile Builder → Form Fields to control the fields on your registration form. In this interface, you can…

  • Use the drop-down at the top to add new form fields.
  • Drag and drop form fields to change their order by clicking on the number in the left-most column.
  • Edit the details for any form field by clicking the Edit button.
  • Delete any of the default form fields if needed.

Customize registration fields

Feel free to customize the registration form as much as needed. If you have the Pro version, you can also add unlimited custom fields to collect as much information as needed from your members.

In addition to basic profile fields like email and password, the only field that you must add is the Subscription Plans field. This field lets you connect your registration form to the subscription plans that you created with Paid Member Subscriptions.

When you customize the field, you’ll be able to choose which plans new users can opt for:

Subscription plan field

If needed, you can also create multiple unique registration forms, each linked to a different subscription level. For example, you could create one registration form for free members and another for paying members (to do this, make sure to activate the premium Multiple Registration Forms add-on by going to Profile Builder → Add-Ons).

Display Your Registration Form

When you’re finished customizing the fields on your registration form, you can display it using the shortcode.

In most situations, you’ll want to replace the registration shortcode from Paid Member Subscriptions with the new shortcode from Profile Builder:

[wppb-register]

Create a Custom Edit Profile Form

In addition to customizing your site’s registration form, Profile Builder can also help you customize the edit profile form that appears in the member’s account area from Paid Member Subscriptions.

For your edit profile form, you can either give members access to the exact same fields from the registration form or you can create a custom set of fields with the premium Multiple Edit Profile Forms add-on.

Once you’ve created your custom edit profile form, go to Paid Member Subscriptions → Settings and find the Edit Profile Form drop-down in the General settings tab.

Change the drop-down to Default Profile Builder (or the name of your custom edit profile form if you created one):

Choose edit profile form

Create Your Membership Website Today

With the right tools, it doesn’t have to be difficult to create a website with membership and user login.

Paid Member Subscriptions gives you all the features you need to turn WordPress into a membership site. Then, if you want even more control over your registration and user login behavior, you can pair Paid Member Subscriptions with the Profile Builder plugin.

To get started with your site, you can try the free version of Paid Member Subscriptions at WordPress.org. Once you discover how easy it is to create a website with membership and user login, you can upgrade to Paid Member Subscriptions Pro to access great new features like automatic recurring payments, content dripping, and lots more:

Paid Member Subscriptions Pro

The best plugin to create a website with membership and user login.

Get the plugin

Or download FREE version

Do you still have any questions about how to create a website with membership and user login? Let us know in the comments and we’ll try to help!

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