Every so often we try out new WordPress plugins to enhance our clients blogs and websites, and we want to share what we have found, the good, the bad, and the ugly!
We recently had a client, the Women Business Owners of Denton County, that was in need of a members’ registration ability and members’ only area, an in-depth events calendar and management system, along with your day-to-day content and membership abilities. We started doing some research about some of the WordPress plugins that are available to help us to complete these goals, and this is what we found.
The membership function of the site is one of the most important to the client, we needed to make it easy for the register user, as well as easy for the administrator. We did a lot of research and found these two plugins that we tried and we wat to let you know how it went.
WishList Member Plugin
The WishList Member Membership Plugin is a popular plugin that allows for WordPress to be turned into a full functioning membership site. WishList will allow users to register to become a member of your site, with an unlimited amount of membership types, guests, members, special-members, and you can set a specific price for each member type, and even choose the length of memberships. You will be able to set a price for posts if you want to allow for paid content viewing. This popular membership plugin includes:
- Membership Website with unlimited membership levels
- Shopping cart integration (including PayPal)
- Control of Private and Public Content
- Partial Content Display
We downloaded a trial and installed this plugin to test it out. First, we found that the plugin is a paid plugin, which is not too surprising as to all of the abilities it includes, and we felt it was a very good price. However, we found that it did not have all of the functions we were looking for. It did not allow for front-end logging in and profile editing, and it had recently added the ability to have customer registration fields, but those fields were not editable when the user logged back in to edit their profile. Since one of our client’s main goals were to allow users to register as a member and then be displayed on a member directory when membership was confirmed, these two functions were much needed. We also needed specific registration fields that included listing their own website, their business details, and a few extra goodies that the organization offers for members.
Due to these specifics, we did not continue using WishList for this client, but we have installed it for our own purposes and love all of the functions it does have to offer. It was easy to install, easy to set up, and works just how it is advertised with no hidden surprises. Their customer support was quick, friendly, and very helpful whenever we had a question, and the plugin functions exactly as promised. The builders of the plugin continue to update, improve and add new features and and abilities, so now that it has been a few months, who knows, they may have answered all of our prayers! A plus to this plugin is that they have MANY extensions that are available from their very own membership site (paid membership), which will help to continue to improve the already great plugin. They also have a great area to show off the sites that successfully use their plugin, which is a great place for inspiration and ideas for your own website. So, in the end, if you are in need of a great working membership plugin, and don’t mind to either include another plugin to allow for front-end login or specific profile questions, then this is the plugin for you!
When we found that the the first plugin we looked at did not complete all of our goals, we went searching for more possibilities. We found the MagicMembers Membership Plugin, which specifically announced the feature to have front-end login in, custom registration fields, and all of the features that would generally come with a membership plugin, such as unlimited membership types, payment modules, etc. We were very excited about this, as it answered the needs we were searching for. We purchased the plugin (oddly the same exact price of the other membership plugin we found, I guess they got together and decided to stay even?), installed it, and started getting to work on setting it and customizing it for our needs.
We ran into a few hiccups. The site states how it is intuitive, but we kept having to search for what we were looking for. It wasn’t until after watching their tutorial videos and submitting some support questions were we able to get it set up how we needed. Once we got into testing phase, we had to submit many support tickets and started to feel like the plugin’s troubleshooting department. Overall, we felt that the plugin was not complete yet. Over the next few upgrades to the plugin, our issues were getting resolved, and the plugin builders continue to solve issues and update with new features and abilities.
Now that the setup is complete, we got the answers to our problems answered by support, the plugin is working exactly how we needed, and we are very happy with the results. I still am not able to give the plugin itself a great rating, as we did run into many issues when setting up the plugin, but we are glad that everything ended up working out the way we needed it, and the website now offers all the features we were needing for our client. If the plugin builders offered better instructional information for the installation and setup and were more specific about how exactly to use and set up each feature, I might be able to give this plugin a better review in the future.
Event Manager Plugins
For this client, we needed to be able to display events, list and calendar views, allow guests and members to register and pay for the events, and allow members to submit information to display their own event. These are the plugins we narrowed our search down to, and this is what we found.
Events Manager Plugin (Pro)
One of the most used events manager plugins is called Events Manager, and they even have a pro version that offers even more features for a price. We chose this plugin because of its ability to allow people to register for events and pay for them, as well as stay on our site until going to the payment portal of our choosing (PayPal). Management and everything would be handled on the website end, rather than using a third-party. We loved the plugin, had a very easy time installing and setting it up, and have had great ease in managing events and registrants since. We did have some questions when setting it up, but since we purchased the pro version, we had unlimited support, which answered all of our questions. There are a few tricky parts of the plugin, but once we reviewed the tutorials, and documents available on the website, we were good to go. There are a lot of customization options available with this plugin, as long as you are not scared to get your hands into some coding!
However, this plugin did not play very nicely at all times with our membership plugin, so we have to be careful in the future when we want to update either plugin, to make sure one will not cancel out the other. We do have requests in for the plugin builder to add new features, and we are happy to know that those features are on the docket list. This plugin gets a great rating from us.
This plugin/feature, Eventbrite, was another option we provided to our client. It is more of a third-party events manager, since most of the management and reservations are on the third-party’s website. There are two parts to this option: the Eventbrite website which handles the events and the WordPress plugin. The plugin part allows the ability to create events on the back-end of your WordPress site or plug events created from eventbrite.com into the website. The events manager does take a small percentage from each ticket sold through their program, which is the reason why we ultimately strayed away from this option. Our client wanted to spend the time and money upfront on a plugin that would keep users and administrators on the main website. Eventbrite offers great event management, has excellent features, and even allows your registrants to share their registration with Facebook and Twitter, which is a great way to have your event be shared with friends!
After all was said and done, the client and users were (and are!) happy and thrilled to have these features available to their members. WordPress has so many plugins that can be used to enhance your website or blog, and if you ever have any doubts about what plugin to use, check out our blog post about Choosing the Best WordPress Plugin! If you would like us to help you choose a plugin, or help you customize one, please contact us for a quote.