S2Member WordPress Membership Plugin Review
S2Member is considered to be one of the more comprehensive WordPress membership plugins designed specifically for the WordPress framework. In terms of website management it allows for nearly everything. One of thing to keep in mind is S2Member begins as a free plugin but there is a commercial Pro upgrade as well. For some people the free version will be enough but for serious membership sites the Pro upgrade is essential.
The Key Benefit of S2Member
If there is a single benefit that S2Member does better than nearly every other option it is the sheer number of features and setup options available. In terms of overall flexibility S2Member definitely ranks among the best. In terms of content presentation and protection S2Member has it all. This includes popular features like drip-feeding content, teaser content, upsells, short-code creation for any pricing structure and nearly every page is customizable (login/registration, email templates, member profile pages, and OTO pages).
The Key Drawback of S2Member
While all of these features are great it is also the cause of S2Member’s biggest drawback. It is definitely not the most user friendly for beginners and people who aren’t able to tweak some code as needed. There are a ton of setup options to go through so the initial setup phase for a membership site can be very time consuming the few times you use S2Member. This also makes it difficult to know exactly what options are necessary and which options are not. Many options in the setup process are worded for more technical users which can make things tricky for non-programmers as well. Fortunately the training documentation is fairly strong and comprehensive.
Free vs Pro Version of S2Member
While the free version offers a number of useful features for smaller membership sites there is a reason most S2Member fans end up purchasing the pro version. This is a quick look at key features which are only available with the Pro version.
• PayPal Pro Form Integration – including custom Thank-Page URLs
• Authorize.Net Pro Form Integration – including onsite credit card processing
• Google Wallet Integration
• ClickBank Integration
• Mass User/Member import/export capabilities
• Remote Operations API for PHP developers
• API functionality for dynamic Pro Login Widgets
• Compatibility with WordPress Multisite Blogs allowing Child Blogs
• BuddyPress support on Multisite Networks
As you can see there are some critical capabilities, especially when it comes to payment gateway integration, which only the Pro version can offer. Plus, once you spend all of the time it takes to get through the initial setup process most people will feel obligated to purchase the Pro version rather than explore other WordPress membership site plugin options.
Overall, S2Member is a strong option to consider – especially if you are comfortable tweaking code as-needed. In general the free version can’t stack up against other commercial WordPress membership plugin options; however the Pro version compares favorably to most of them.