WPMU DEV Membership — Review of WordPress Plugin

WPMU DEV Membership review

Overall rating: ★★★½☆

Version: 2.1

Reviewed by

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.

Installation & Admin UI

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.

Documentation & Support

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.

Member Management

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.

Payment Processing Features

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.

Flow of Registration Steps

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

Content Protection Features

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.

Protecting Files

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.

Extensibility & API

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.

Email Communication with Subscribers

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.

Affiliate Management Capabilities

Membership works with WPMU DEV Affiliates, which you can download at no additional cost if you’re a WPMU DEV subscriber.

Who is Using It

Here’s one very professional looking website that’s using Membership: StayPress. For other examples, check out Affiliate Made and Medicos 24.

Money Matters

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.

21 comments. You can post one, too!

  1. Thanks for this post – I think I will save my money and get what I want coded or pay an existing developer for any tweaks I need.

  2. Dev4

    I joined early 2013. Have found their support weak in spots, but better than anything I have experienced on line short of paying $ per hour for direct one on one support.

    I have multiple installs, of multisite and a few singles that use their plug ins and not much else. I have been very happy with the results.

    Just sayin…. and no, I do not work for them or know anyone who does… and I am not an affiliate either.

  3. Thanks for all who took time to comment. It looks you saved tons of time and headache. I’ve never seen such a unanimous vote of no-confidence.

  4. brodster

    Stay away from Wpmu.org All their plugins are form wordpress.org and are modified then sold at a price. Most of the plugins are buggy and hard to work with and do not work the way you want them. if you submit a bug report they ignore it, but act like they are trying.

  5. Very bad experience with this company.
    All plugins I tried using were not compatible with my WordPress installation. The only one that worked was the Ultimate Facebook. But suddenly after 3 weeks using it, it just stopped working.

    I will never again pay them, it was just a waste, a drain to my wallet paying a year for accessing all this plugins.
    Beware.

  6. Mike S

    DON´T BUY THIS MEMBERSHIP.
    It’s a total waste of money.
    They say they are wordpress experts, but can’t even fix small problems .
    You don´t get any support, all you get is bla bla bla.
    All they want is your money and keep you on their paid support as long as possible.
    So stay away from WPMUdev

  7. sonny

    yah they really suck.
    1. Most plugin is not plug and play as they mention.
    2. Almost all (sorry i just 5 theme and 13 plugin), none of it work without bug,
    3. Customer service ? is there any customer service after payment make ?

    regret and glad i just go for one month

  8. H2F

    There is a massive sale of WPMUDev Premium membership for just $79 (usually $420) at Appsumo ( http://www.appsumo.com/?r=HvDFe )

  9. Surajit Sen Sharma

    Right now, I mean as of “now” December 17, 2011, I am a paid member of WPMUDev, and paid their USD 79 One month try out package.
    I am glad I did not go for the whole annual deal, and stung with my loss.

    They are good marketers, however I have found free scripts available at WordPress.org to be mostly better than theirs.

    If you are talking of good paid scripts with support, those at tips and tricks hq, work well without hassle and good support, though they are limited in number and deal only with shopping cart, affiliation, and membership, but their integration is good and no hassle.

    I have also found a few good scripts here and there where isolated developers charge, but also provide support like the newsletter plugin at tribulant.

    Somehow I can’t shake of the feeling that most of WPMUDev’s plugins are somehow copied or tweaked from those of other original developers. It’s just a feeling.

    When I comment on their “members only forums” on the problems with any of their plugins, usually there are no answers, or diplomatic answers.

    Right now I am going into an elaborate process of uninstalling all their plugins from my systems and creating functionality with small plugins from isolated but dedicated developers: Membership, affiliation, and shopping from tips and tricks HQ, newsletter from tribulant, some great shortcode scripts from codecanyon, and many scripts that are entirely free but superb, like the W3TC plugin, and DB-Manager plugin.

    The sale format at the premium WP-Plugins marketplace is also awful because you can’t just pay and be done, but now with most plugins there is a monthly or annual payment after what you have paid upfront.

  10. Mike

    Is this plugin only for multi site installations? What if I just have a single regular wordpress site, will it still work?

  11. I tried WPMU DEV a while back and was very disappointed with the level of polish and documentation provided. The feel is like an open source site but they charge quite a bit for the access. There’s a massive sale on today so you can get an annual subscription for $146 which is regularly over $400. I decided against trying it again because I’m actually willing to pay more for products that work better and fully documented versus the hobby style of the WPMU DEV stuff.

  12. These plugins are updated constantly and any collection of them (without someone with a subscription to maintain it) is pretty much useless after a month or two. If anyone is interested, though, I found a website that has access to a live subscription and seems to update its offerings frequently.
    http://store.solitude-guild.net/. Sure, there is a charge for access, but it’s better than a $419-a-year membership from WPMU DEV. ;)

  13. For the record, I just updated the review.

  14. I just bought the membership about a week ago. And I am not gonna lie, I am not super experienced in WordPress, but I am not a rookie, either (http://www.kangarew.com, http://www.boisebasketball.com).

    But my last week has been a week of complete frustration and headache. I have yet to have any plugin or theme work on the first time. No joke. Something wrong happens, so then I gotta hit up the forum and wait a day (sometimes more) for a response. I thought these were like the premium of premium of plugins and themes, but I think they are all in beta and still buggy.

    Complete waste of money? No. More of the time factor. I don’t feel effective working with them. Highly disappointed. No clear instructions.

  15. WPMUdev complaint

    Customer service at WPMUdev sucks, I mean it’s really bad. They answer easy questions right away with their ridiculous point system, like what is 1+ 1? But don’t think of asking them if their plugins can integrate with each other. They’ll leave you hanging on. Their software has bugs. They are grossly understaffed or smoking pot at work. Sign up if you are bored and want to beta test development stuff for shits and giggles, but you are better off with the loads of free plugins on WordPress.

    If you are curious about their Membership plugin, Google some of their forum posts, there are people who are trying to get that almost workable but actually crap to work one year later and no luck, no support.

    MK… you could try http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/members/. It’s free and offers role editing, more than Membership plugin. The developer answers questions faster too.

    Any ideas for free ecommerce integration?

    • Thanks for your feedback. I know about Members by Justin Tadlock, but I don’t know why it keeps getting mentioned on these pages. That plugin cannot automatically process payments and change a user’s role or capabilities upon payment. To me, it’s a roles and capabilities editing plugin.

      If you want a real free membership plugin, checkout s2Member. It works great. You could also try Paid Memberships Pro. It’s free, but I haven’t tried it, yet.

  16. my Ass

    Don’t even think about WPMUDEV, it just create u more headache …

    • M.K.

      Care to elaborate? Did you join WPMU DEV’s premium program and download the membership plugin? Have you tried version 2.0 of the script? It was released just today, in fact. Do you recommend any other membership plugin?

    • Tony

      I agree. I thought if I paid for the plugin then I would get some kind of user guide. That is why I purchased the membership. Any way long story short the plugin has zero documentation and I was fortunately able to modify what needed to be done as an experienced designer however one fix leads to more fixes until finally I felt like I wasted my money and a lot of time and ultimately look like an idiot with my client. Thanks for nothing. This plugin is extremely buggy and you will find in the forums and support that the redirect if not logged in sends to 404 no matter what so you have to create a new 404. Very bad for search engine rank… Don’t waste your time or money.

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