S2Member Review – Free vs. Pro
Anyone who has investigated or compared WordPress membership website plug-ins is familiar with S2Member. The basic framework is free although there is also a Pro version for either $89 or $189 depending upon how many websites it will be used on. There is also an option to extend the one year of free support with the option to renew 12 months of support for either $19 or $29. It is important to note that the Unlimited site license is necessary for websites utilizing a WordPress multi-site network.
This includes child blogs and sub sites within the network. Additionally, the Unlimited license is not a developer license. The developers will need their clients to purchase their own single site or Unlimited site license.
Key Feature Differences between the Free and Pro Version
S2Member is an extremely feature-rich WordPress membership website plug-in. The free version is the fundamental framework the Pro version is built on which means it is updated just as often as the Pro version is. At the same time, there are certain limitations with the free version which is why many people choose to upgrade.
A key difference between the free and Pro version is third-party integration. While the free version support standard PayPal buttons, the Pro version is required for PayPal Pro integration, Stripe integration, Authorize.net integration, and ClickBank button integration.
Another key feature not available with the free version is the ability to utilize content dripping short codes. Content dripping short codes is the method used by S2Member to utilize the popular drip-feeding content strategy. In fact, a majority of short codes S2Member is known for are not available with the free version. For example, pro form short codes, customizable pro-form templates, and short code extras are only available with the Pro version.
There are also several key convenience features not available with the free version of S2Member. For example, one step registration/checkout is only available with the premium version. Additionally, the number of membership levels is limited to four with the free version whereas the paid version offers unlimited membership levels. Another popular convenience feature is remote operations API access and the ability to create coupon codes/gift codes. Both of these are only available with the Pro version of S2Member
S2Member is Phasing Out Some Integration Capabilities
In an interesting move, S2Member has decided to phase out support for some popular third party integrations. Two of the most notable third-party solutions being phased out are AliPay and ccBill. While they officially stopped advertising and featuring integration with these third-party solutions several years ago, they are now beginning to limit or eliminate assistance with existing integration for these services. While S2Member is not stripping out the integration completely, yet, future versions will be released without this integration natively supported.
The Future of S2Member
There is no arguing this premium WordPress membership site plug-in has a bright future. At the same time, the decision to phase out native integration and support for certain third-party solutions, particularly payment processors, can make it difficult for some people to determine whether or not this is the best long-term solution for their needs.