Many websites find value in restricting some of their content to members of the website. When visitors navigate to a restricted page the content is not loaded and the visitor is prompted to sign into the website or register. Visitors create a profile with a user name and password, which is normally linked to an email address to allow visitors to recover lost passwords if needed. The visitor can then sign in and view the content. Page articles are one example of content you may want to restrict to members only. Other examples are downloadable files such as songs and videos.
Monetising Members Only Content
To gain membership, visitors are often required to pay in a one-off online transaction or a regular subscription. This is a way for website owners to monetise their content and is well suited to online magazines. For the most part, content creators can monetise their creations like this, or resort to web advertising. Another reason to restrict content is to ensure members meet some criteria. For example, you may want to restrict content to employees of a specific company. Restricting content can also be a ‘soft’ measure to prevent people plagiarising your work.
Some businesses like to provide the option of more than one type of membership, usually broken into tiers. For example, visitors may have a choice of a bronze, silver or gold membership with each subsequent tier providing additional benefits to the member.
Another popular variation on the member restricted content model is to drip feed content on a regular schedule. This is a good model for businesses running online courses and selling course work material.
Implementing Website Members Only Areas
WordPress comes with a comprehensive membership and role system, so restricting content to certain members is very achievable on this platform. WordPress also comes with a simple way to password protect content out of the box,. Visitors must enter the protect password before the content in loaded. Strictly speaking, this is not a membership but it can work for the same purpose in a pinch.
For paid memberships, we usually use WooCommerce to allow visitors to make the online transaction along with the Memberships extension. If you want members to pay a regular fee for membership, we usually implement this functionality with the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension.
There are plenty of other WordPress membership plugins though. Some examples include:
Chris Lema has some further reading about website membership areas.