While working on a project last night, I came to a stumbling block. After doing a bit of Google research and some trial and error, I decided to submit a support ticket. I also tweeted to some of the devs on the team for ideas. Of course, I heard back. Got some suggestions.
After doing a quick email search, I discovered that we’ve been using Paid Memberships Pro (PMPro) plugin for at least 7 years. The plugin is a free WordPress plugin that does a variety of things really well. Primarily, it can be used to create a members-based website, but it can also effectively protect content, give access based on different privileges, and a whole lot more.
We used S2Member for a few years and found it too limiting for our clients needs out of the box. The customizations took a lot of work and overall the pricing didn’t fit. We have also used WP Members for a very basic application. There are a bunch of options out there for Membership sites for WordPress, but we’ve found Paid Members Pro to be the best supported, the most reliable, and the most extensible.
These are pretty big claims. Let me explain a little about why we’ve made them.
We’ve been in the WordPress design and development world for at least 12 years. We have seen lots of players come and go. The guy who introduced me into that world was a military IT guy. He was very techy — and very patient. From the get go, I found the WordPress community supportive and friendly. But the question is how supportive? There were hacks we needed or more functionality from a plugin and Google research wasn’t that great at the time. We relied heavily on the plugin support and the WordPress community.
Enter PMPro. Our client had a magazine type website where they had different levels of content available. Some public, some subscription. After fumbling around with S2Member for a few years, I had come across Paid Memberships Pro. The reviews were good especially in terms of support. About 3 days into using the free plugin, we decided to take the plunge and purchase the paid subscription. We had very custom needs and too many questions about our custom configuration to go with the free version. Nowadays, almost everyone offers paid support. Let me tell you that paid support does not equal good support. PMPro support is top of the line. They would normally reply back in a few hours, always with code suggestions, alternative ideas, or would simply look inside our environment to help workout our challenge. Their ticket system is incredibly useful and they will often reply quickly on Twitter. Considering 100,000+ active installations and the complexity of their product, we’re blown away with the effectiveness and granular attention of their support.
There are hundreds of plugins that use or have used on our clients sites over the years. Most of them are good and largely reliable. Of course, you always find some that will break with an update. PMPro has gone through many version updates and we have never been disrupted by one.
The plugin works out of the box, is easy to setup with default and advanced settings. The plugin has been improved over time to include a variety of add-ons to make a membership site even more effective and customized. We have never had a case where the plugin didn’t work or stopped working.
PMPro also plays nice with other plugins. For developers, that’s a big deal. So far, we have not run into a situation where we’ve had to discontinue the use of another plugin or abandon PMPro because of an existing conflict.
This is a huge claim and I can’t support this with documentation. I wrote it because in our experience, it has proven to be the most extensible plugin we’ve ever used. PMPro uses their own customization plugin where a user can write specific code tweaks to achieve custom functions. All of this works flawlessly each time we’ve upgraded to a new version of the core plugin.
Out of the box, PMPro offers the basic tools to get started on a membership site. With some advanced settings and a merchant account, you can turn your site into an e-commerce site. Paid Memberships Pro offers more add-ons than I cared to count. Each one offers a specific aspect to the workings of the plugin. If they don’t answer our needs, the members forum on their website shows even more ways to customize the plugin.
If we were programmers, we could write our own code to do a lot of what PMPro does. But, we’re not. Most designers/developers choose a plugin for a program that has already been written, that they need for a purpose on their website. PMPro does a thousand things and does them well. It simply works.
In our 7 years of experience, we have always found a solution to meet a client’s need when it came to a membership customization. Whether it was a modified filter, hook, or CSS or a better alternative, PMPro was always there leading us.