Let's be honest—there are straightforward membership sites and complex ones. Straightforward membership sites don't have to be simple. I'm not saying that.
Straightforward vs. Complex Membership Sites
What I am saying is that if your focus is the following, I'd call that a straightforward membership site:
- Charge someone to join the membership site
- Put them into a membership role
- Allow them to view protected content others don't get to see
- Even drip that content to them over time
- Renew their membership every certain number of days
This is straightforward. It's a little like saying you want to drive a car that has wheels, doors and windows, and can get you to places up to 400 miles away. Many cars will get you where you need to go, because that request is well understood and, again, straightforward.
In those cases, my recommendation (more often than not) is MemberPress.
I'm pretty certain about my recommendation because last year I reviewed 30 membership plugins.
But what happens when you want something else?
- What happens when you also want your members to be able to make donations?
- What happens when you also want your members to get a discount (for being a member) on other products?
- What happens when you also want your members to be the only ones that can reserve a resource?
- What happens when you also want your members to get credit in your store, every month?
- What happens when you also want your members to register for an event? That only they can see.
This is what I call a complex membership site.
Complex membership sites using WordPress
See, we often don't think about things in this way all because of one word, “just.” That word transports us from the realm of complexity back into the space of tranquil simplicity.
I just need one other thing… But it's that extra thing that makes things more complex than straightforward. And in that case, in case you didn't know, I also have a consistent recommendation.
In my review of 30 membership plugins, one other plugin beyond MemberPress scored so well.
Partially because it handles the complexities better than any other solutions.
And that is WooCommerce
Now, to be clear, it's not just WooCommerce. That's the underlying platform for the membership site. It's WooCommerce plus WooCommerce Subscriptions plus WooCommerce Memberships plus any of the other extensions you need.
They have extensions for bookings, events, donations, coupons, and more and when you mix them up, you end up with something more than simple.
You end up with complex membership sites using WooCommerce and WordPress.