Building an Online Community with WordPress

Article Contents Show
Home » Building an Online Community with WordPress

It should be no surprise that WordPress is one of the most popular platforms for online communities.

With a built-in user system, simple publishing options and website design customiser, the core version of WordPress is a great starting point for a community. All you need to do is choose one of the many community WordPress plugins that are available to you.

In this article, I would like to show you the best WordPress community plugins available today. These can be used to create discussion forums, content websites, membership websites, online courses, private communities and more.


* Plugins are not ranked in any particular order :)

Discussion Forums

Even after all these years, it still impresses me that WordPress can used to power a fully functional discussion forum, but is it the right software for this task?

It depends on the project.

If you are looking to run a large discussion forum, a dedicated solution such as xenForo, vBulletin, phpBB or Invision, makes much more sense. These applications were designed to run discussion forums from the ground up and are better equipped to manage and scale large communities.

WordPress is, however, the smarter choice in many situations.

For example, it works well for small support forums and question and answer rooms, particularly if your main website was created using WordPress.

bbPress – FREE

bbPress has been around nearly as long as WordPress itself, with development starting in 2004 by WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg. The simplicity of bbPress makes it a good choice for a support forum or a small community that compliments your main website.

The core plugin lacks important forum functionality found in other solutions. Thankfully, plugin extensions are availble that allow you to add additional features. For example, GD bbPress Attachments allows users to upload images, bbp style pack lets you easily style your forums and bbPress Notify helps you control who receives notifications. 

There’s also a large number of integration plugins available which allow you to integrate bbPress with popular WordPress themes and plugins.

wpForo – FREE

wpForo is a modern WordPress forum solution that offers multiple layouts, a mobile-friendly design, advanced member profiles and a user rating system.

There’s a number of great moderation tools to help you moderate your forum and you can easily change styles too.

wpForo is free to use, however 10 premium plugin extensions are available that let you add functionality for advertisements, polls, custom fields and more. They retail from between $11 and $35 each.

wpForo Forums
wpForo is an advanced solution that is free to download.

Asgaros Forum – FREE

Asgaros Forum is a versatile free forum WordPress plugin that features a customisable responsive design, a members list page, profile pages, statistics, polls and widgets.

There are moderator tools for approving, banning and reporting members and posts. A like system is built-in too and there is an integrated advertising system and many free addons that increase functionality.

Asgaros Forum
Asgaros Forum is 100% free to use and has many great features.

WP Discussion Board – FREE / $49+

WP Discussion Board is a WordPress forum plugin that features many anti-spam tools. It can be integrated into an existing WordPress website using shortcodes.

The free version of is quite limiting, restricting you to only one board and removing essential features such as user profiles. Due to this, I believe most people should upgrade to WP Discussion Board Pro instead so that you can add as many rooms as you wish. It retails at $49 per for a single website license and $89 pery ear for an unlimited website license.

The full version allows you to approve registrations and adds forum permissions, child forums, subscriptions, media uploads, user profiles, top posters and more.

WP Discussion Board
If you like the free version of WP Discussion Board, you should consider upgrading to the full version to unlock all features.

Simple:Press – FREE / $99+

Simple:Press is a feature-rich forum solution that offers unlimited forums, forum groups, an advanced user system, rankings, moderation tools and anti-spam options.

The plugin is 100% free to use, however you can extend Simple:Press significantly by purchasing one of the Simple:Press bundle plans. Retailing from $99 per year for a single website license, the bundle plans give you access to over 70 premium add ons and access to premium themes.

Add ons help you add many new features and functionality. This includes advertising, analytics, announcements, questions and answers, featured topics and integration with popular WordPress plugins.

Simple:Press is used to power large discussion forums such as Tripawds.

ForumWP – $99+

Created by the same people behind Ultimate Member, ForumWP is a premium forum WordPress plugin that has a clean lightweight mobile-friendly design. It allows you to style each forum room individually and gives every user an informatitive profile page.

Three basic modules are available which add subscriptions, bookmarking and a like system. Their plus modules add post moderation, private replies, a voting system and an option to mark a topic as solved.

Given the price of other WordPress forum solutions, ForumWP is a hard sell. It retails at $99 per year for a single license and this particular plan does not even include plus modules. You need to upgrade to their three website $149 per year license in order to get the full version.

ForumWP has a nice clean design, but there are cheaper forum alternatives on the market.

Website Toolbox – £420+

Website Toolbox is a hosted forum solution that is targeted to WordPress, Drupal and Joomla users. Rather than integrate with your WordPress website via a plugin, Website Toolbox hosts your forum in the cloud and syncs logins between your forum and your main WordPress website.

The service integrates many useful features such as social media support, styling tools and monetisation options. From a performance point of view, there is a good argument for hosting forums separately from WordPress, however the ridiculous pricing scheme of Website Toolbox makes it difficult to recommend to most website owners.

If paid annually, the cost is £420 per year for 10,000 monthly views, £1,020 per year for 100,000 monthly views and a whopping £3,000 per year for 500,000 monthly views. These prices increase if you pay monthly.

Website Toolbox
Website Toolbox is ridiculously expensive and the entry level £420 per year entry-level plan does not even unlock all features.

Sabai Discuss – $24

Sabai Discuss is a simple discussion WordPress plugin that is suitable for support rooms and question and answer rooms.

It features a visual form editor and allows you to mark questions as featured. Questions and answers can also be marked as spam and users can upload images to help explain the problems they’re facing.

Sabai Discuss sells for $24 on CodeCanyon.

Sabai Discuss
Sabai Discuss can be used to create simple support forums.

Forym – $22

Formerly known as WP Pro Forum system, Forym is a simple WordPress discussion forum plugin that can be used for small support rooms and question and answers areas.

It features a drag and drop file uploader, a light and dark theme, profanity filter and support for @mentions. Interestingly, Forym can take over your WordPress comments.

Forym is available from CodeCanyon for a one-off fee of $22.

Forym is a simple forum solution.

DW Question & Answer Pro – $39

DW Question & Answer Pro is a beautiful question and answer forum WordPress plugin that is a perfect fit for support forums. It integrates perfectly with WordPress and lets you administrate everything from the frontend of your website.

Answers can be selected as the best and questions can be marked as private. Other cool features include voting, instant search, file management, advanced permissions, spam control, social media sharing and templates for email notifications and forum designs.

DW Question & Answer Pro retails at a one-off fee of $39 from CodeCanyon.

A free version of the plugin does exist, but at the time of writing it has not been updated for over a year so it is difficult to recommend. Thankfully, the premium version continues to be updated regularly.

DW Question & Answer Pro
DW Question & Answer Pro boasts a ton of great administration features and looks great too.

QaForum – $29

QaForum is a user-friendly WordPress forum plugin that was designed for support forums and question and answer areas. It has built-in search functionality that allows users to filter content by categories and keywords.

Questions can be marked as the accepted answer and all answers can be voted up or down. Behind the scenes, there are many settings to help you define who can access the forum and what they can and cannot do.

The plugin is available for a one-off fee of $29 from CodeCanyon.


WP Answers – $34

Another option for creating a question and answer forum is the WordPress plugin WP Answers. It comes packaged with its own WordPress theme to help you build a community, but this is optional as WP Answers will work with any WordPress website.

It features social media logins, advanced moderation and spam protection options and support for importing questions and answers from StackOverflow. Users can upvote and downvote answers and you can charge users a member fee via PayPal. You can also reward users to encourage participation.

WP Answers retails at a one-off fee of $34.

WP Answers
WP Answers

Enhanced Comments

The comment area is an important part of many successful blogs and a great tool when creating a community around good content.

WordPress natively allows readers to publish comments, but the core functionality is quite basic. There is no support for social media and no way for commenters to subscribe to comment updates.

Thankfully, a number of comment WordPress plugins are available that allow you to enhance the comment area significantly. This will help you encourage readers to comment regularly.

Thrive Comments – $39+

One of the leading products of Thrive Themes, Thrive Comments is a fantastic WordPress plugin that will transform WordPress’ native comment system and greatly increase the engagement in your comment area.

It features social media logins and allows commenters to share individual comments. A number of tools are also available to help increase participation. This includes user badges, an integrated comment voting system, featured comments and an option to subscribe to a poster’s comments. Blog posts with a large volume of comments can be divided into multiple pages too.

The plugin helps make your comment area look beautiful and lazy-loading helps everything load quickly. The backend also features an advanced moderation system, detailed comment reports, auto-link keyword functionality, comment filtering and more.

Thrive Comments retails at $39 for a one website license, $47 for a five website license and $97 for a 15 website license. All plans offer the same features and come with one year of support and updates and a 30 day money back guarantee.

Thrive Comments
Thrive Comments is undoubtedly one of the best comment solutions available to WordPress users.

GraphComment – FREE / $7+ Per Month

GraphComment is a versatile WordPress comment plugin that syncs your website comments to webservers across France. All comments are continually synced to your WordPress website, but by hosting the comments on an external server, you can greatly reduce the size of your WordPress database.

It offers social media logins, a unique voting system that is built upon the reputation of users, badges and awards, text formatting, comment widgets and light and dark themes. Several comment widgets are provided together with analytics and a host of moderation tools to help you maintain your community.

Their $7 per month starter plan lets you pin the best discussions, use keyword alerts and customise branding and emails. It also has a live discussion mode. High-traffic websites may want to consider the $74 per month pro plan as it increases the number of data loads from 1.5 million to 5 million.

If you would like to host your comments externally, GraphComment is a great option.

wpDiscuz – FREE

wpDiscuz is a fast AJAX-powered comment solution that enhances the core WordPress comment system. It features social media logins, live notifications, comment ratings, nested comments, comment highlighting, custom fields and subscription via email.

Lazy loading and avatar caching are available to help optimise the performance of your comment area. There’s a wealth of moderation, security and anti-spam tools, as well.

18 plugin extensions are available for wpDiscuz that add functionality such as advertising integration, user mentions and media uploading. These retail between $9 and $25 each, however a bundle is available that lets you purchase all extensions for $99.

wpDiscuz is one of the best free WordPress comment plugins on the market.

Jetpack Comments – FREE

If you are looking for a simpler comment solution, you may want to consider Jetpack Comments. It replaces the default WordPress form with a comment form that has social media logins for, Facebook, Twitter and Google.

This Jetpack module also ties in with the Jetpack Subscriptions module to allow readers to subscribe to new comments and posts via email.

Jetpack Comments
Jetpack Comments helps bring the simple comment form into the 21st century.

Disqus – FREE /$9 Per Month

Disqus is a hosted comment service that syncs comments back to your WordPress database. At one point, Disqus was one of the most popular comment solutions for WordPress, however it has fell out of favour a little over the last few years and at the time of writing, the Discus WordPress Plugin has not been updated for two years.

Despite this, Disqus is still a service I can recommend. It looks great, supports many social media services for logins and supports real-time comments. There’s some great moderation tools available in Disqus including pre-moderating comments, banned lists and trusted lists, shadow banning and more.

Disqus is free to use as it is supported by advertisements. For $9 per month, you can remove advertising, although you are restricted to three websites and 50,000 views. The $89 per month pro plan increases these limits to 20 websites and 150,000 views and adds advanced analytics, star ratings and custom reactions.

Disqus is still a good fit for many websites.

Subscribe To Comments Reloaded – FREE

If you like the native WordPress comment system, you may want to use Subscribe To Comments Reloaded. The plugin adds a versatile comment subscription service to your website that allows readers to subscribe to comment updates via email.

Commenters can subscribe and unsubscribe from updates via email and through a dedicated subscriptions page which I believe most commenters will prefer over Jetpack. All emails are customisable through the plugin too.

In comparison to other comment solutions I have referenced, Subscribe To Comments Reloaded is a simple solution that only adds one feature to your website, yet it remains one of my favourite WordPress comment plugins as it keeps commenters coming back to your website.

Subscribe To Comments Reloaded
Subscribe To Comments Reloaded encourages commenters to return to the discussion regularly.

Community & User Profiles

Community WordPress plugins can be used to transform your website into a large community with unique user profiles, groups, notifications, private messaging and more.

Solutions such as BuddyPress can be used to create a community for friends, your local club or for your business.

On a smaller scale, you will also find a host of user profile and registration WordPress plugins. These plugins will drastically improve the website experience for users.

WordPress Multisite – FREE

Originally a separate project called WordPress MU, multisite is now a part of the core version of WordPress. It allows you to create a network of WordPress websites (similar to with the same core WordPress installation files being shared across all network websites.

To enble multisite functionality, all you have to do is add a small line of code before the end of your wp-config.php file. You can then start adding network websites using sub-domains or sub-directories.

/* Multisite */
define( 'WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE', true );

If you are looking to create a large community with many websites, you may want to consider using WordPress multisite, though my recommendation is to test this functionality in your test area first to learn what it can and cannot do.

Setting up WordPress multisite is beyond the scope of this article, but be aware that some WordPress hosting companies are not prepared for hosting a full network so always be sure to speak with your host to see what they offer.

One company that does have great experience in this area is WPMUDev. They have years of experience with WordPress multisite and sell many multisite WordPress plugins to help you maintain your network.

BuddyPress – FREE

With development starting in 2008, BuddyPress is one of the longest running WordPress projects online. The plugin lets you add many useful community features to your website such as custom profiles, groups, friend connections, activity streams and private messaging.

A popular companion for BuddyPress is the forum WordPress plugin bbPress (which should be no surprise given that they’re both developed by Automattic), though BuddyPress is well supported throughout the WordPress community. As such, you will find many great BuddyPress WordPress themes and plugins to help you build your community.

Without doubt, BuddyPress is one of the best ways to transform your WordPress website into a fully functioning community.

Which Community
BuddyPress is used to power the community area of the popular website Which.

Youzer – $49

Youzer is a BuddyPress WordPress plugin that adds hundreds of options to your community. It adds colour schemes, support for advertising on profiles, new membership fields, custom widgets and more.

The plugin also enhances your website security using Captcha fields, password resets and limited login attempts.

It’s available from CodeCanyon for $49.

Youzer BuddyPress Plugin
BuddyPress users will appreciate what Youzer adds to their community.

BuddyBoss – $228

It’s hard to categorise BuddyBoss as it can do so many things. It can be used to power an online community, sell courses online or create a WordPress membership website. As its name suggests, BuddyBoss was based upon BuddyPress, which means that many BuddyPress plugins work with BuddyBoss.

There are a lot of great community features in BuddyBoss that you will not find elsewhere. It offers member profiles, social groups, forums, Zoom integration, private and group messaging, albums, custom brand emails, private communities, events, jobs and more.

It boasts the ability to sell courses and memberships, but also supports integration with popular membership websites, e-learning applications such as LearnDash and the WordPress gaming application GamiPress.

BuddyBoss retails at $228 for a one website license, $288 for a five website license and $328 for a ten website license. All plans come with one year of support and updates and a 14 day money back guarantee.

BuddyBoss has hundreds of useful community features and settings.

Ultimate Member – FREE / $249+

Ultimate Member is a user-profile WordPress plugin that has a drag and drop page builder for creating stylish front-end registration forms and login forms. Custom form fields are available and you can use conditional logic to change what fields are displayed in different situations.

The free version of Ultimate Member also has many features to help you create a membership website. This includes custom user roles, member directories and content restriction.

23 premium extensions are available which expand functionality siginificantly. These include social media logins, private messaging, user reviews, groups and more. Most extensions cost around $50 for a single website license, however you can gain access to all plugin extensions for $249 per year.

Ultimate Member
Ultimate Member can be used to add beautiful user profiles and add membership functionality to your website.

WP Symposium Pro – FREE / $79.99

WP Symposium Pro is a community and social media WordPress plugin that offers user profiles, discussion forums, social media integration, groups, galleries and more.

The core version of the plugin features profiles, activities, forums and alerts. To unlock all social networking features, you need to purchase the social network plugin extension.

WP Symposium Pro
The core version of WP Symposium Pro is quite basic.

Ultra Community – FREE

Ultra Community is a community WordPress plugin that adds front-end logins and registrations, user profiles, custom user roles, groups and directories of members and groups.

11 plugin extensions are available at $14.99 each for a single website license (Curiously, no bundle deal is available). Extensions include user notifications, user post submissions, social media sharing and bbPress integration.

Ultra Community
Ultra Community helps you create your own community website.

ProfileGrid – FREE / $79+

ProfileGrid is a flexible community WordPress plugin that lets you create customisable user profiles for WordPress, WooCommerce and bbPress.

The plugin does much more than add user profiles though. You can activate private messaging, groups, user blogs, friends system and registration forms through RegistrationMagic. Content restriction is available too, which allows you to create a membership website. Seven free plugin extensions help you integrate ProfileGrid with other WordPress plugins, customise user display names and display custom profile URL slugs.

The premium version of ProfileGrid gives you access to 22 premium plugin extensions. These allow you to take payments through your website and adds social media logins, an advanced group manager, additional integration support and more.

ProfileGrid Pro retails at $79 for a one website license with one year of support and updates or $139 for an unlimited website license with lifetime support and updates.

ProfileGrid can do more than just create user profiles.

RegistrationMagic – FREE / $89+

Developed by the same people behind ProfileGrid, RegistrationMagic is a registration WordPress plugin that lets you create professional registration forms and contact forms using a form builder.

For each form, you can specify fields, design settings, reCAPTCHA anti-spam details, automatic email responses and integrations with third-party WordPress plugins and services. Your forms can then be inserted into your website using shortcodes, widgets and more. What’s really interesting is all the additional features that are available, such as attachments, custom user roles, bulk emailing and detailed analytics.

The premium version of RegistrationMagic gives you access to 52 plugin extensions. It retails at $89 for a one website license with one year of support and updates and $189 for an unlimited website license with lifetime support and updates.

These plugin extensions add hundreds of new options such as HTML code embeds, PDF submissions, conditional fields and IP banning.

RegistrationMagic is one of the most feature-rich form solutions available for WordPress.

User Registration – FREE / $69+

User Registration is a user-friendly drag and drop registration WordPress plugin that helps you create advanced registration forms. It supports many additional fields such as country, telephone number and password.

A total of 20 premium plugin extensions are available in the full version of User Registration. The entry level $69 per year personal plan includes eight extensions. These include advanced fields, PDF submissions, social media connections and WooCommerce and MailChimp integration.

The $149 plus plan increases your license from one website to five and the $299 professional license allows unlimited website support and updates. Both of these plans include 12 additional plugin extensions for unlocking conditional logic, multi-step forms, a style customiser, payment processing and more.

All premium plans come with a 14 day money back guarantee.

User Registration
User Registration is one of the best WordPress registration plugins on the market.

UserPro – $39

UserPro is a vertsaile WordPress plugin that offers beautiful user profiles, a detailed member directory, social media integration, content restriction and customisable login forms and registration forms. The plugin also has support for popular email marketing services and integrates well with BuddyPress, WooCommerce, WPML and other WordPress plugins.

Whilst it is primarily marketed as a community plugin, UserPro can be used to create membership websites. All you have to do is restrict content to specific user groups and charge them using PayPal or using WooCommerce’s payment system.

UserPro is available for a one-off fee of $39 from CodeCanyon.

UserPro has many great community and membership features.

PeepSo – FREE / $129+

PeepSo is a community WordPress plugin that can be used to create a social network on your website that looks similar to Facebook or LinkedIn.

In the free version of the plugin, your community can be built up using shortcodes. There are shortcodes to help you publish user profiles, members, user activity, registration forms and more. If you upgrade to the full version of Peepso, you gain access to their responsive Gecko WordPress theme.

The basic bundle for PeepSo Pro costs $129 for a one website license and comes with one year of updates and two weeks of support. In addition to the Gecko theme, it comes with plugin extensions to add photos, chat, friends and groups. The starter bundle costs $249 for a one website license and comes with a total of 11 plugin extensions and one year of updates and support. The additional plugins add functionality for videos, polls, user limits and more.

The most expensive option is the ultimate bundle. Retailing at $349 for a one website license, it features a total of 20 plugin extensions. This package allows you to integrate Peepso with many third-party services and WordPress plugins.

Peepso is a great option if you are creating a social network, but it is expensive.

ProfilePress – FREE / $69+

As its name suggests, ProfilePress is a WordPress plugin that helps you control user profiles in the front end and backend of your website. It lets you redirect users from the default WordPress login page and registration page to a custom page instead. Users can also be redirected to other pages after logging in and lopgging out.

The full version of ProfilePress adds support for multi-step forms, AJAX forms, social media logins, anti-spam features and pre-made themes for profile pages, login pages and registration forms.

A personal license retails at $69 and comes with one year of support and updates. The $99 business license increases support and updates to three websites and adds support for MailChimp, Campaign Monitor and Polylang. An unlimited website license is available at $199 per year or a one-off fee of $599.

ProfilePress gives you control over user profile pages, login page and registration page.

WP User Frontend – FREE / $49+

The developers of WP User Frontend call it the “Ultimate Frontend Solution to WordPress”. It boasts a drag and drop form builder which can be used to create forms for a variety of purposes such as guest post submissions, WooCommerce orders and member subscriptions.

A registration form can be added using a shortcode, however if you upgrade to WP User Frontend Pro with the $49 per year personal license, you can create profiles and registration forms using a form builder. Upgrading also adds advanced fields, content restriction, social media logins, recurring payments, condition logic and more.

The $89 per year professional license increases usage to five websites and adds support for Stripe payments, email templates, a user directory, user analytics, BuddyPress integration and support for email marketing services.

At the top end is the $159 per year business license. This plan increases support and updates to 15 websites and adds private messaging, reports, support for Paid Memberships Pro, support for Zapier and more.

WP User Frontend
The cost of WP User Frontend depends on what features you need.

Profile Builder – FREE / $69

Profile Builder is a useful WordPress plugin that allows you to create advanced profile pages, login forms and registration forms. You can also restrict content based upon a user’s login status or user role. The plugin gives you great control over your users. For example, you can specify the minimum length of passwords and which user group they are assigned to upon registration.

Over a dozen free plugin extensions are available for Profile Builder. There are plugins for adding custom login page templates, phone number validation, custom CSS and more.

Profile Builder Pro retails at $69 for a single license and comes with ten plugin extensions. New features include social media logins, custom profile menus and support for WooCommerce and popular email marketing services. The $149 unlimited website license adds integration support for BuddyPress and adds features such as front-end users, multiple registration forms and custom redirects.

Both plans come with one year of support and updates.

Profile Builder
Profile Builder can be used to enhance forms and profile pages.

Final User – $39

Retailing at a one-off fee of $39, Final User is a front-end profile WordPress plugin that gives users a detailed front-end dashboard. Profiles can include photos, videos, associated blog posts, WooCommerce customer information, BuddyPress activity and more.

Final User can also be used to create a membership website. You can offer free accounts or charge users a one time payment or recurring payment. You can even offer free and paid trials.

Final User
Final User pulls information from many different places and displays them in the user’s dashboard.


Once you have used a membership WordPress plugin, you understand just how powerful the WordPress platform is.

You can use membership plugins to create large communities, restrict content to specific user groups, sell online courses and even sell individual articles.

Many of the community and user-profile WordPress plugins that I referenced above support content restriction and let you sell memberships too. Generally speaking, however, dedicated membership WordPress plugins give you more control over users, more ways to restrict content and better support for marketing services and payment processors.

WP-Members – FREE / $125

WP-Members is a membership WordPress plugin that lets you restrict blog posts, pages and custom post types. It has shortcodes for custom login forms, registration pages, profile pages and content restriction. Two free plugin extensions are also available which allow you to prevent spam registrations and send test emails.

The WP Members Pro Bundle retails at $125 and comes with one year of support and updates. It adds advanced options, download protection, membership invite codes, security features, a text string editor, user list, user tracking and integration support for PayPal, MailChimp and SalesForce.

All of these pro features are available as individual plugin extensions, but with many of them costing $47 each, it makes more sense to purchase the bundle.

WP Members
The free version of WP Members is a simple member solution, but the pro version improves things significantly.

Members – FREE

Members is the free version of MemberPress, although it is better to consider them seperate products as they are so different. The plugin offers an advanced user role editor that lets you modify existing user roles and create new ones.

Using Members, you can grant access or deny access to dozens of website permissions. This includes accessible pages, posts, pages, media, plugins and more.

In the add-ons section, you can activate additional features such as WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads integration support, however Members does not allow you to charge for memberships directly.

You could, however, use Members to create a free membership website and use another plugin to accept payments.

Members is a useful free membership WordPress plugin, but you are limited with what you can do with it.

MemberPress – $149

The full version of MemberPress is significantly more advanced that its free equivalent. It gives you complete control over what users can do and exactly what content they can access on your website. To keep members subscribed, content can also be drip fed to them.

A host of options are available to help you create and manage membership websites and courses. Memberships can then be marketed using dynamic pricing pages and coupons and there is support for multiple payment systems too.

A basic one website license for MemberPress retails at $149 per year and supports PayPal and Stripe for payments. The $249 per year plus plan increases usage to two websites and adds support for payments and selling corporate accounts. Zapier integration is supported in this plan too, which opens up many integration possiblities with other tools and services.

The $349 per year pro plan increases usage to five websites and includes their Affiliate Royale add-on. Affiliate Royale adds an affiliate program to your membership website to help you increase sales. Support for the podcasting WordPress plugin Blubrry PowerPress is also included under this plan.

MemberPress has everything you need to create a profitable membership website.

Ultimate Membership Pro – $39

Ultimate Membership Pro is the most popular membership WordPress plugin available on CodeCanyon. It’s an advanced solution that lets you build a subscription-based membership website using beautiful profile pages, membership subscriptions and login pages.

It features content restriction, user redirection, a member directory, recurring payments, coupons, social media logins, membership trials, content dripping, custom fields and conditional logic. There is also support for Zapier, major email marketing services and several popular Payment processors.

Ultimate Membership Pro is available from CodeCanyon for a one-off fee of $39.

Ultimate Membership Pro
Ultimate Membership Pro offers fantastic value

PrivateContent – $25+

PrivateContent is a popular membership WordPress plugin that sells for $25 on CodeCanyon. You can use the plugin to restrict pages, menus, categories, widgets and other content on your website. It comes with a skin builder and three preset skins, but it also integrates beautifully with popular drag and drop page builders such as Elementor. PrivateContent tracks users to show you what members are doing when they are logged in and there is support for Google Analytics too.

The core version lacks important features, however these features can be unlocked through plugin extensions. The files manager plugin lets you restrict files based upon user levels and the user data plugin helps you add additional form fields and validate data.

The mail actions adds email verification, MailChimp integration and user notifications, but the most significant upgrade comes from the premium plans plugin extension. You need this to offer trials, discount codes, member subscriptions and renewals.

The most value comes from buying the PrivateContent WordPress Bundle Pack. It retails at $69 and comes with the core plugin and all plugin extensions.

At $69, the PrivateContent WordPress Bundle gives great value.

s2Member – FREE / $89+

s2Member is a flexible WordPress membership plugin that lets you restrict access to user roles, capabilities, posts, pages and other website content. It allows you to restrict access to parts of a page and can also be used to protect content on BuddyPress and bbPress pages. This allows you to protect important community areas such as support forums.

The plugin lets you store files locally or on third-party storage services such as Amazon S3. The free version of s2Member also lets you charge users using PayPal Payments Standard.

The full version of s2Member retails at $89 for a single website license and $189 for an unlimited website license. Both plans are charged as a one-off fee and come with lifetime updates and a 14 day money back guarantee.

s2Member Pro adds additional payment procession options for PayPal Pro, Stripe, and ClickBank. It also offers unlimited paid membership levels, form shortcodes, anti-spam functionality, login monitoring, coupons, a login widget, WordPress Multisite support, a members list page and support for integrating your own affiliate program.

The number of options available in s2Member is insane. There’s literally hundreds of customisation options and settings.

Magic Members – $97+

Magic Members is a feature-rich membership solution for WordPress that supports over a dozen payment processors. It integrates with Amazon S3 for file storage and works with all major email marketing services.

The plugin has everything you need to publish a membership website. There’s support for multiple access levels, coupons, login redirection and a versatile download manager. Content can be restricted to parts of a page or areas of your website. You can also charge members per article or per view and you can drip feed content to members over time.

Magic Members retails at $97 for a one domain installation, $197 for a three domain installation and $207 for unlimited domains (this domain registration policy appears to be against the WordPress GPL). All plans come with one year of support and updates.

I have tested Magic Members many times in the past and it’s a powerful solution, however for the purpose of this article, I wanted to test everything again. Unfortunately, no email was sent when I registered for their free trial, so I am unsure how frequently the plugin is updated. It would therefore be prudent to email the developers to speak with them before you purchase any license.

Magic Members Wordpress Membership Plugin
Magic Members supports many different payment processors.

Restrict Content Pro – $99+

Now part of the iThemes family, Restrict Content Pro is an easy to use WordPress plugin that lets you restrict access to content through multiple membership and subscription packages.

It features a discount code system, detailed reports and many different email templates for informing members. Payments can be accepted via Stripe, Braintree, 2Checkout, or PayPal Website Payments Pro. WooCommerce is supported too and members can upgrade and downgrade memberships with ease.

The cost of Restrict Content Pro depends on how many websites you need support for and whether you need their pro add-ons.

A one website personal license costs $99 per year, whilst a five website license costs $149 per year. 13 core addons are included in both of these plans. If you want to use Restrict Content Pro on an unlimited number of websites and gain access to 18 pro add-ons, you need to opt for either the professional or ultimate license. These retail at $249 year or a one-off fee of $499.

All plans come with a 30 day money back guarantee.

Restrict Content Pro
Restrict Content Pro is also included in the iThemes web designer’s toolkit.

ARMember – $49

ARMember is a powerful community, user profile and membership WordPress plugin that offers stylish registration and login forms through a form builder. It features social media logins and it has support for multiple payment processors. There’s also support for WooCommerce, BuddyPress, bbPress, MyCred and several email marketing services.

It allows you to set up multiple membership tiers and charge subscriptions through WooCommerce. Shortcodes can be used for restricting part of your content and you can drip feed content to members so they do not get access to all content at once.

Members have a lot of freedom too. They can test your membership using a free trial or paid trial and once they have signed up, they can upgrade and downgrade their membership.

ARMember is available from CodeCanyon for a one-off fee of $49.

ARMember has everything you need to build a membership website.

Paid Memberships Pro is a fantastic membership WordPress plugin that lets you restrict blog posts, pages, categories, blocks, bbPress discussions, BuddyPress pages and more. To help you create a membership website, the developers have created a free WordPress theme called MemberLite.

A total of 19 plugin add-ons are available for the free version of the plugin. These add-ons help you integrate six payment gateways and several third-party services. There’s also an add-on to add a member role manager and one to restrict access to one IP address.

The full version of Paid Memberships Pro unlocks 65 premium plugin add-ons. These add-ons add a ton of additional functionality including donations, discounts, downloads, member home pages, VAT support, affiliate integration, auto-renewals and more.

The Paid Memberships Pro plus plan costs $297 per year and supports one to five websites. You can gain unlimited support by moving up to the $597 unlimited plan.

Paid Memberships Pro
Paid Memberships Pro has many amazing features.

WP Membership – $35

WP Membership is a membership solution for WordPress that features pricing tables, a user role manager, detailed reports and MailChimp support.

Payments can be accepted through PayPal or Stripe and you can charge memberships on a one-off basis or on a recurring basis. Free and paid trials can be implemented too and members can upgrade, downgrade and cancel their membership at any time.

WP Membership is available for a one-off fee of $35 from CodeCanyon

WP Membership
WP Membership can be used to create a simple membership website.

Paid Member Subscriptions is a useful membership WordPress plugin that offers content restriction, PayPal payment support, email templates and free trials.

A single license for Paid Membership Subscriptions retails at $69 per year. In addition to its core features, it includes eight basic add-ons. These allow global content restriction, discount codes, fixed period memberships, bbPress support and more.

An unlimited website license retails at $149 per year and includes eight additional pro plugin add-ons. It adds support for tax, group memberships, recurring PayPay payments, PayPal Express, Stripe payments, invoicing, content dripping and multiple subscriptions per member.

Paid Member Subscriptions
Paid Member Subscriptions supports for multiple membership levels.

LearnDash – $159+

LearnDash is a premium WordPress LMS plugin that helps you create an advanced courses website. It lets you drip feed content to members and reward them with certificates and badges once they have completed particular parts of your course.

PayPal, Stripe and 2Checkout, are supported natively through LearnDash, however you can add more payment processors using WooCommerce. It supports one-time payments, subscriptions, bundle deals, discounts, renewals and more.

A basic license for LearnDash retails at $159 and offers unlimited courses and users for one website. For only $30 more, you can get the plus license. This grants usage on up to ten websites and includes their pro panel. The most expensive license option is the $329 pro plan, which allows usage on up to 25 websites.

All plans come with one year of support and updates and a 30 day money back guarantee.

LearnDash is one of the best course solutions available for WordPress.

MemberMouse – $398.04+

MemberMouse is an advanced membership solution for WordPress that supports free and paid memberships, recurring subscriptions, product upselling, free and paid trials, members only pricing, affiliate integration and payment plans.

The plugin gives you complete control over what members can access. You can protect every type of content on your website, drip feed content, create private membership areas and automatically lock shared accounts.

The MemberMouse builder plan retails at $398.04 per year, which is an effective rate of $33.17 per month. It supports up to 5,000 members and includes all core features.

The advanced plan costs $986.04 per year, which is an effective rate of $82.17 per month. It allows up to 50,000 members and includes priority support, an advanced reporting suite, social media integration and advanced subscription management. The premium plan costs $2,978.04 per year, which is an effective rate of $248.17 per month. It allows 100,000 subscribers and adds integration and telephone support.

MemberMouse is undoubtedly one of the best membership WordPress plugins on the market.

Wishlist Member – $147+

Another advanced WordPress membership solution to consider is Wishlist Member. It offers unlimited membership levels, content drip feeding, partial content restriction and support for free, trial and paid memberships.

Payments can be taken through PayPal, Stripe, InfusionSoft, ThriveCart or WooCommerce. The plugin also works in harmony with over 50 other products and services, including WordPress plugins such as LearnDash.

A single license for Wishlist Member costs $147 per year. Their three website and ten website license retail at $197 and $297 respectively, however customers are only charged $147 per year on subsequent years for all plans.

All plans come with a 30 day money back guarantee.

Wishlist Member
Wishlist Member is a powerful membership solution.

WooCommerce Memberships – $199

WooCommerce Memberships is an official WooCommerce plugin extension that lets you sell memberships and grant memberships as part of other purchases. It supports unlimited membership tiers and lets you specify exactly what members can and cannot access.

If installed with WooCommerce Subscriptions, you can offer memberships on a recurring basis, offer free trials and let members pause, upgrade, downgrade and cancel their membership.

WooCommerce Memberships retails at $199 per year and comes with a 30 day money back guarantee. WooCommerce Subscriptions costs $199 per year too, so be sure to factor this into your budget if you need subscription functionality.

WooCommerce Memberships
WooCommerce Memberships is a good choice for building a membership website.

Final Thoughts

I hope you have found this detailed list of community WordPress plugins useful.

The great thing about all of these WordPress plugins is that they can be used to compliment your existing WordPress website.

For example, online stores can add discussion forums for support and bloggers can create communities by offering enhanced user profiles and special permissions for commenters. Marketers can also take advantage of membership websites to sell courses.

As always, I strongly encourage you to do your own research by testing many free WordPress plugins and trying premium solutions by taking advantages of free trails and online demos.

When reviewing your options, be mindful of the fact that large forums and communities can affect the performance of your main WordPress website as everything is stored on one central database. With a discussion forum, for example, at a certain stage it may be better to host your community on a separate WordPress installation or use dedicated forum software instead.

Good luck.


Featured Image by Alexander Gounder from Pixabay

Share This