WishList Member Review
A membership website is one of the ways to monetize your efforts. Managing members is not a simple job. There are lots of subtle variations and plenty of automation. In this scenario you have to compare various WordPress plugins along with their salient features and benefits. WishList Member is a paid membership plugin which has been reviewed here.
Ease of use
The first test of any software is usability. You can have a great piece of code and fantastic features, but if users are unable to use it, the effort becomes meaningless. WishList Member plugin for WordPress passes this test with flying colors. It is easy to install, setup and use. This factor is critical because WordPress users are not generally tech savvy. You have to setup many layers of access and this can prove to be quite a task. WishList Member can be understood if not mastered intuitively.
Maturity and stability
The first principle we must follow is not to use anything new even if it’s free, unless the software is tested and has proved itself on the field. This is an aspect which we usually ignore but has an important role to play. New entrants face teething problems and installing updates and patches can be problematic. WishList Member is a mature product and is quite stable. Top score for this plugin on this count.
Integration with other plugins
You must remember that no plugin can work in isolation. Many WordPress sites have over fifty plugins. This can create conflicts. There are two important integration points which must be considered. First is the integration with email management software. There is no point running a membership site which does not function along with an automated emailing plugin/software. WishList Member was tested with Aweber, popular emailing management software, and it ran smoothly without any hitch. The claim that it works well with other popular emailing software like MailChimp etc. was not tested.
The other integration point is the payment gateway. Membership sites live off member fees and this can only be enabled with a payment gateway. It responded nicely with Paypal which is probably the most popular payment gateway. WishList Member site claims that it also works well with other gateways. There is a word of caution here. This plugin offers two options. If you opt for simple integration, there is no way you can know whether a user has cancelled membership or has not paid for it other than checking manually. If you opt for full integration, membership is automatically cancelled in case of payment default and access to the members is blocked.
Subscription and membership levels
There are three subscription levels. You can have free, trial and paid or a combination of these. Website owners want to control access for members. Pay more and get more is the usual pitch. WishList Member plugin is designed for creating any number of access levels as desired. What’s more, you can name them as you want – like Gold, Silver, Platinum or some other rare earth metal. Or even try Pro, Pro++ and Ultimate Pro levels.
The latest version of WishList Member has the drip feature which is essential for professional membership sites. You just don’t want to dump content in one go and then twiddle your thumb. The content must be allowed to drip slowly so that interest is maintained. You can set membership status to be upgraded to allow access to more content. Members can decide whether to go in for an upgrade or remain satisfied with the available content. This feature has made this plugin more robust.
There are two pricing slabs. The single site or domain license is priced at $97 for a lifetime. If you go for the multisite license, you will have to pay $297. Multisite licensors also get four goodies (called Bonus here). Both the licenses entitle you to free upgrade and support for one whole year. WishList Member plugin also has another category of license called the commercial package.
Support is a factor which is critical and deserves number one status on this list. To begin with, you have a number of videos to watch while installing and running this plugin. The knowledgebase is extensive and you can probably get answers to most of your queries out here. Ticketing system seems to be good though it was not tested thoroughly. The faq section is however quite sketchy and could be improved.
Online marketing is a fickle world. There are zillions of reasons why you would like to jump gun and start using another membership site. Or maybe, you have bought WishList Member plugin to replace another one. In both the cases, you need to import and export members. Fortunately, you can do both with this plugin. Exporting member list is also important from the standpoint of encountering server crash and other eventualities.
Providing updates for only one year is a serious limitation with WishList Member plugin. When you are paying for a lifetime license, you are entitled for a lifetime upgrade. This seems like simple logic but WishList Member plugin doesn’t seem to think so. What happens if you upgrade to the latest WordPress and find that it’s incompatible with your plugin? It seems that you can pay $47 per year for updates after one year. Looks a bit unfair. It would have been ideal if the plugin owners allowed upgrade at nominal fee whenever required by users instead of paying each year.
Overall, WishList Member is a robust and feature rich plugin for WordPress. With multiple access levels and membership, you get a host of tools which you need to manage a membership site. Compared to other membership plugin, WishList Member has better user interface and is easier to manage. It also has an API for modifying portions of code.
The product is robust and therefore you are likely to apply fewer patches which is a relief. The pricing is a bit steep for single user version. Other grouse is the support which is limited to one year. Upgrades should ideally be available for a lifetime for a small fee.Full Product Details