Reviewed by M. K. Safi
WPMU DEV Membership is a powerful membership solution with a complex range of content protection options. It puts special emphasis on BuddyPress and Multisite protection. It integrates with WordPress exceptionally well and it utilizes WordPress API appropriately.
This plugin is best suited for advanced users, since it doesn’t include a lot of documentation.
There is a free version of the plugin, which has some restrictions, but it can be useful as a test drive. The full version can be downloaded for as little as $39.
Read the full review below to find out if this indeed is the right plugin for your requirements.
Membership is properly packaged in a zip folder that plays well with WordPress built-in plugin uploader. So, you can just install it from there. It’s simply a matter of uploading and activating—no license key or other steps required.
Once activated, you’ll see Membership’s menu at the very top of WordPress admin sidebar, even on top of the dashboard home button. It’s an interesting placement. I guess its purpose is to emphasize that the plugin transforms the entire nature of your WordPress site.
Membership’s UI is very similar to WordPress native UI, so you’ll feel right at home when you’re using it.
The documentation of Membership consists of only one page. This page gives you an overview of the plugin and its various features. It goes into details on some aspects of operation, but it is far from being a comprehensive user manual. There are many features that aren’t covered.
While there is a free version of Membership, technical support is only provided to WPMU DEV paying subscribers through the forums. Parts of the support forums are publicly viewable, so you can visit them and check out the quality level of support yourself.
Membership relies fully on WordPress built-in users table to manage the site members. Membership levels are not associated with the native WordPress roles and capabilities. However, each membership level can be linked to a role. You can create unlimited number of membership levels.
Unfortunately, Membership cannot produce and utilize custom registration fields.
Membership supports Authorize.Net, PayPal Express, and 2Checkout.
Membership’s payment gateways don’t support advanced features such as upsells and coupon codes. However, with PayPal Express, the plugin supports automatic cancellations and refunds, so that when a user cancels their subscription on your site, their recurring payment on PayPal is also cancelled.
Membership supports the following registration scenarios (each ‘→’ represents a redirect):
- Register → Login & access free content → Pay
- Register → Pay → Login
- Pay on PayPal first → Register → Login
- Pay and register account on one page on your site → Login
Membership can protect categories, individual posts and pages, and specific URLs—all using native WordPress API.
Gradual Content Delivery
Drip feeding content with Membership, although possible, is a very tedious process. You can view this tutorial to see how it’s done. I would not recommend using Membership if sequentially delivered content is going to be a big part of your membership site.
Membership provides basic file protection as illustrated in the user manual. However, it is not as strong as the protection other membership plugins provide. And Membership doesn’t provide any means of protecting streamed videos.
Teaser Content or Scripting Tags
Teaser content can be achieved in one of two ways in Membership. You can either tell the plugin to protect content after the <!–more–> tag or you could utilize protection shortcodes where you wrap protected content within pre-designated shortcodes.
Protecting Forums, BuddyPress & WordPress Multisite
Membership puts a lot of emphasis and excels in protecting BuddyPress and WordPress Multisite. If you need BuddyPress or Multisite compatibility, this is one of the few plugins that provide true integration.
It is also possible to use Membership to protect WordPress-based forums since the plugin integrates with WordPress built-in roles and capabilities.
Protecting Entire Site
By default, once activated, Membership protects all pages of your WordPress site. That is, until you configure specific free content and assign that content to, what Membership calls, the “Stranger” level. So, yes, Membership is capable of protecting an entire WordPress site, if that’s what you need.
Other Protection Features
Another interesting protection feature that Membership has is the ability to protect MarketPress pages. MarketPress is an ecommerce shopping cart plugin by WPMU DEV and Membership can help you create a membership site where only registered members can buy from your products.
Membership, however, doesn’t support secure RSS delivery or IP-based restriction to prevent password sharing.
Membership ships with a wide array of plugins, which are also made by WPMU DEV. One can look at the source code of these plugins to learn how to build on Membership. However, without proper documentation, which is the case here, this can be impractical.
Other than that, Membership makes available what they call “Pings”, which in their own words:
A very powerful way of communicating with other web services using Pings. Made especially for developers, these Pings let you send data to any URL using the POST or GET method.
Membership has a basic member communications feature. It allows you to create and schedule messages by a certain time before a subscription expires or after it expires. It also provides you with some merge tags that you can use in your scheduled messages.
Membership has no built-in integration with any autoresponder service.
Membership works with WPMU DEV Affiliates, which you can download at no additional cost if you’re a WPMU DEV subscriber.
Here’s one very professional looking website that’s using Membership: StayPress. For other examples, check out Affiliate Made and Medicos 24.
All of WPMU DEV’s products are GPL-licensed, which means they are open source and can be installed on as many sites as you wish.
To download this specific plugin, you can purchase it for $39 (includes 1-month upgrades and support), $79 (3 months upgrades and support) or $209 (1 year upgrades and support).
Alternatively, you can become a WPMU DEV subscriber to get access to WPMU DEV Membership and many other plugins and unlimited support. The prices for WPMU DEV subscriptions are here.
Keep in mind that there are no refunds with WPMU DEV.