Are you looking for a way to restrict content on WordPress? There are many scenarios where you might need to do this. For example, perhaps you have set up a site for your upcoming wedding and only want guests to access it, or you need to give different levels of access to those more closely involved with the big day. Or maybe you run a website where you need a “Members Only” section, such as a club website.
Either way, you could use a fully-featured membership plugin, but you may end up with lots of features you will never use, slowing your site down. So instead, you might be better off looking for something super-simple and more lightweight like the ones we are going to suggest in this article. They will give you the functionality you need without having loads of code-laden features to hinder your site’s speed.
6 Best Plugins to Restrict Content on WordPress in 2021
We’ve got six WordPress plugins to restrict content to logged-in users for you. These all have free versions that offer enough functionality to suit most situations, but they also have premium options to expand functionality further if necessary. In addition, all have been tested to WordPress 5.7.2 and updated within the last two months (as of early June 2021). Therefore, you are unlikely to encounter any compatibility issues with your site.
So, let’s get started.
Profile Builder is a WordPress user profile plugin that is very simple to set up and use. Along with restricting content based on user role or logged-in status, this plugin also allows you to restrict access to individual posts, pages, or custom post types. It is even possible to limit access to the entire website if required.
Other great features offered by the free version of this plugin include:
- Ability to display either a restriction message or define a redirect page URL whenever an unauthorized user attempts to view the content
- Create detailed frontend profiles
- Manage user roles and capabilities using the built-in role editor – easily add, edit, remove, or clone.
- Basic user fields can be customized, or custom user fields added to the frontend forms by users with administrator rights using shortcodes
- Display frontend user registration, login, user profile, and password recovery forms via shortcodes
- reCAPTCHA support for WordPress default and Profile Builder forms
- Automatic email confirmation on registration
- Users can be allowed to log in using an email address, username or both
- Redirect users following registration, login, or after editing their profile, e.g., to a confirmation page
- Twelve free add-ons for adding other functions such as a customization toolbox, custom login templates, password-less login, restrict access to WooCommerce products and bbPress forums, and more.
Premium “Hobbyist” and “Pro” versions are also available, costing $69 and $149, respectively. These annual subscriptions offer many additional features, including:
- Use on unlimited sites (Pro only)
- Shortcodes for login, registration, and edit profile
- Manage default user fields
- Configurable minimum password length and strength
- Administrator approval and email confirmation
- Unlimited additional user fields, including conditional logic
- User avatars
- Extended reCAPTCHA support
- Import and export user data
- Additional add-ons including Social Connect, WooCommerce sync., MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, and many more
- Pro also adds seven advanced user modules, such as frontend user listing, add users on a map, multiple registrations, edit profile forms, etc.
- One year of support and updates
This versatile plugin has over 60,000 active downloads in operation, and users have given it a very respectable 4.7/5.0 stars.
Paid Member Subscriptions
From the same developer as Profile Builder, Paid Member Subscriptions allows you to create a membership site that can restrict content to paid members only. Content can be limited either based on a purchased or assigned subscription access plan or, alternatively, based on logged-in status.
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The free version comes bundled with some great features, including:
- Restrict posts and pages, custom post types, individual WooCommerce products or the entire shop page, bbPress forums, and topics
- Restrict certain content using shortcodes
- Option to display a message, redirect to a different page, or show a unique template when unauthorized users attempt to access the restricted content
- Integrates with Elementor page builder
- Accept membership payment via PayPal, including payment management
- Hierarchical subscriptions, e.g., free, gold, silver
- Member upgrade options
- Member management including add, remove or edit subscription details
- Customizable member emails and messages
- Ability to offer free trial periods or require a setup fee
- Export member data, including payment history, with support for MailChimp, Quickbooks, Microsoft Excel, etc.
- WooCommerce integration – create a member-only store, restrict product viewing and purchasing, member discounts
- GDPR compliant
- Autologin capable
- reCAPTCHA support
As with Profile Builder, Premium “Hobbyist” and “Pro” versions of the plugin are also available for $69 and $149 per year, respectively. Depending on which you purchase, the following features may be available:
- Use on unlimited sites (Pro only)
- Unlimited PayPal standard and free subscriptions
- Account, member, subscription, and payment management
- Easy login
- Email Templates
- Add-ons for extra functionality. These include global content restriction, discount codes, email reminders, etc.
- One year of support and updates
So if you are looking to create a paid membership type site but want to do it easily, Paid Member Subscriptions might be the plugin for you. Even the free version offers some very impressive features that would be a great starting point.
More than 10,000 active downloads are in operation, and the average user rating of 4.7/5.0 stars means it should be a very safe bet.
Ultimate Member is the most popular plugin in this list by far, boasting over 200,000 active downloads and a good 4.4/5.0 average user rating. It allows you easily add sign-up and membership functionality to your site and restrict content accordingly.
The features list of this free plugin are impressive:
- Front-end user profiles, registration, and login
- Custom form fields with conditional logic
- Drag and drop form builder
- User account page
- Custom user roles
- Member directories
- User emails
- Content restriction
- Conditional navigation menus
- Show author posts and comments on user profiles
- Developer friendly
- Free extensions for added integrations and functionality, such as JobsBoardWP, ForumWP, reCAPTCHA, online users, and terms and conditions
Many premium extensions are also available, adding cool functions such as user locations, WooCommerce integration, profile completeness, social activity, MailChimp, friends, etc. The good thing about plugin extensions is you can add only the functions you need without bloating your site with code from ones you don’t. On the downside, the extensions don’t come cheap, costing around $30-$50 each per year for a single site. However, an extension pass is available, which is more cost-effective because it gives access to all extensions for $249 per year.
S2 Member is a plugin offering you several ways to control access to your web content. For example, using shortcodes, you can restrict access to entire post types or taxonomies, individual pieces of content (such as a post), or just a portion of that content.
The free version of S2 Member gives you plenty of features to play with, including:
- PayPal standard button integration
- WordPress roles, capabilities, and CCAPS
- Manual account creation and open registration option
- Various content restriction options
- Security features such as protection against brute-force logins, unique IP and file download restrictions, protected media streams, and security encryption key
- Conditionals via shortcode
- Customization features including registration/profile fields, login/registration form, email templates, login welcome and membership options pages, etc.
- Member profile updates
- Integrations for mailing lists, affiliate programs, bbPress/BuddyPress, etc.
- Caching plugin compatible
- Developer options, such as WordPress hooks, filters, and accessible source code
Pro versions, which cost $89 per year for a single site or $189 for unlimited domains, enhance functionality with features such as:
- More payment gateway and customization options
- More shortcodes, including content dripping
- One-step registration and checkout
- Unlimited paid membership levels
- Anti-spam measures
- Simultaneous login monitoring
- Data import and export tools
- Configurable coupon and gift codes
- Public members list
- Remote operations API
S2 Member is currently active on over 20,000 sites globally, and it has an average user rating of 3.9/5.0. All negative reviews date back well over a year, and the favorable ones since then indicate that previous problems are now fixed.
Available as both free and Pro versions, Restrict Content is a popular plugin that allows you to restrict specific parts of your site via shortcode, or alternatively, access to entire posts or pages can be limited using a simple meta box.
Additional key features of the free version include:
- Control user access and protect sensitive content, including separate public and private content
- Collect email addresses
- Restrict access to entire pages or just specific sections
- Allow users to register themselves and log in from the frontend of your site
If you are just looking for a straightforward way of restricting content on your site, the free version may be all you need. However, if you need more, the Pro versions add things like:
- Users can manage their own accounts
- Unlimited membership levels
- Payment processing support for various payment gateways, including Stripe and PayPal
- Mailchimp, ConvertKit, AWeber, etc. email marketing integration
- AffiliateWP integration
- WooCommerce product access restriction
- Discount codes
- Complete member management, including email updates to members
- Export data to CSV
- Detailed reports
- Various add-ons
- Developer-friendly for building custom integrations, plus many official and third-party add-ons are available
- One year of support and updates
Annual Pro subscriptions cost between $91 and $245, and the additional features included vary depending on the subscription purchased. These subscription prices are introductory for the first year only, rising to between $129 and $349 from the second year onwards.
Restrict Content has over 10,000 active downloads and an average user rating of 3.6/5.0 stars. The majority of the negative feedback that has resulted in such a relatively low score dates back several years, and the developer has since addressed problems identified in those.
WP-Members is a plugin for WordPress to restrict page access to logged-in users. With it, you will be able to control access to your content, create custom registration fields, and do pretty much everything else you need to do to make member-only areas on your site.
Despite being free, the plugin puts plenty of powerful features at your fingertips:
- Ability to hide or restrict posts, pages, custom post types, and menu items to logged-in users
- Theme integrated user login, registration, and profiles
- Custom registration and profile fields
- Admin notification of new user registrations
- Option to hold new registrations pending admin approval
- Automatic post excerpt teaser to encourage people to subscribe
- Plenty of shortcodes
- WordPress action and filter hooks for customization, plus a library of API functions
- A large amount of documentation is freely available on the developer’s website
- Free extensions to stop spam registrations and to send test emails.
Many premium extensions are also available to enhance and tailor the functionality of this plugin to precisely suit your needs. These include:
- Advanced options
- Download protect
- Invite codes
- MailChimp integration
- WooCommerce memberships
- PayPal subscriptions
- Additional security features
- Text editor
- User list and tracking
- Word-based password generator
You can buy these premium extensions individually, with prices averaging around $30-$50. However, if you need more than one extension, the “Pro Bundle” could prove more cost-effective. For $125 per year, it includes all extensions, updates, and support for one year, plus access to more tutorials and a code snippet library for customizations.
WP-Members is hugely popular, with 80,000+ active downloads in operation and an excellent user rating of 4.7/5.0 stars. This plugin is definitely one you should check out if you need a great free option with plenty of functionality.
Some Final Thoughts
The wonderful thing about all of the plugins we have suggested is they are available for free. Best of all, despite being free, none skimp on features, and you will be able to add excellent content restriction functionality to your website quickly and easily. That is great news if you are working with a minimal budget.
We recommend that you try out the free versions of the plugins until you find the one that works best for you. Then, as your site scales, you can adapt your content restriction capabilities accordingly by adding the premium features.
Do you already have restricted content on your site, or do you run a membership program on it? If so, have you used any plugins to restrict content on WordPress? What’s your favorite? And if you are still looking into making some or all of your site accessible only to registered users, will you be trying any of the plugins we have suggested? As always, we’d love to have your feedback.