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5 Ultimate WordPress Plugins to Create Membership Sites and Engaging Online Courses

WordPress membership plugin

Do you know the demand for interactive online learning experiences and exclusive member communities is higher than ever? Where during the horrific outbreak of COVID-19, the whole world was experiencing the worst kind of recession, and thousands of million-dollar businesses were falling apart; there, during the same period, the business of eLearning academies and online courses boomed at least 5 times when almost everyone was bounded and stuck at home and had literally nothing productive to do.

Online learning is the fastest-growing market in the education industry – it has grown 900% since its creation in 2000 Devlinpeck.com

As businesses, educators, and content creators strive to connect with their audience meaningfully, the need for robust WordPress plugins that cater to membership sites and online courses has never been more critical.

Stats conducted by devlinpeck.com suggest that the number of online learning users is expected to increase to 57 million by 2027. If these stats are believed to be accurate, having a steadfast membership and course plugin in place is more than essential to thrive with your eLearning business.

5 Best WordPress Membership Plugins to Build Thriving Online Courses

The detailed review below will discuss these plugins’ strengths, weaknesses, features, and benefits to help you find the perfect match. By the end, we are sure you will have a clear idea to choose the right plugins for your membership sites.

Note: All the features and pricing plans mentioned in this post are valid as of the time of writing this post.

Best WordPress Membership and Course Plugin, LearnDash

LearnDash is a powerful WordPress plugin that transforms online education. Its intuitive drag-and-drop course builder allows easy creation of interactive courses, quizzes, and assignments. Advanced features like drip-feed content, certificates, and gamification elements boost engagement.

Its detailed analytics and scalable solutions cater to individual instructors and large institutions alike, empowering educators to create dynamic learning experiences that inspire and educate learners globally.

Highlighted Features & Benefits

Drag-and-Drop InterfaceProvides an easy-to-use drag-and-drop builder, allowing users to effortlessly manage their course pages, add new lessons, quizzes, topics, and sections with simple, mouse-driven actions.
Advanced Quiz BuilderOffers an advanced quiz builder that utilizes a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface, enabling the creation, editing, movement, and deletion of questions within quizzes.
Video ProgressionIncludes a unique video progression feature to mitigate cheating, ensuring that students engage with course videos as intended and complete their learning experience authentically.
Monetization OptionsOffers various monetization options, including subscriptions, single purchases, memberships, and pay-per-view for online courses, along with seamless integration of payment gateways such as PayPal, Stripe, and 2Checkout.
Reusability of LessonsAllows the reusability of lessons in other courses, enabling course creators to leverage existing content across multiple courses efficiently.

Pros

✅ The plugin provides robust quiz features, including question banks, timers, and various question types, enhancing learners’ interactivity and assessment options.
✅ Allows you to schedule content release over time, keeping students engaged and motivated throughout the course duration.
✅ It offers certificate and badge creation tools to reward students upon course completion, boosting motivation and recognition.
✅ Seamlessly integrates with various plugins and services, allowing for customizations and expansions to meet specific needs.

Cons

❌ The pricing plans can be on the higher end compared to other WordPress plugins, which might deter users on a tight budget.
❌ Managing student profiles or group enrollments may be more complex compared to simpler membership plugins focused solely on user management.

Pricing: LearnDash’s course creation and membership plugin starts at $199/yr for a single site.

Verdict: LearnDash offers comprehensive course creation tools for those willing to invest time and money in a feature-rich platform. However, users seeking simplicity and lower costs may prefer alternatives with a gentler learning curve and more straightforward pricing.

02. MemberPress – Monetize & Supercharge Your WordPress Membership Websites Effortlessly

Best WordPress Membership and Course Plugin, MemberPress

MemberPress is a powerful WordPress plugin designed to revolutionize membership websites. It offers effortless creation and management of digital products and subscriptions, featuring robust content restriction, drip scheduling, and versatile payment integrations.

With customizable membership plans, exclusive content offerings, and detailed analytics, it empowers site owners to build thriving online communities and optimize revenue streams. Whether you’re monetizing your expertise or building a loyal subscriber base, it provides the essential tools to unlock your website’s full potential.

Highlighted Features & Benefits

Control Access to ContentAllows fine-grained control over access to the website, individual content, files, posts, and pages, as well as the ability to release access to content over a predefined period through dripping.
Multiple Membership Products or LevelsSupports the creation of multiple membership levels or products, allowing for the offering of free and premium plans to cater to diverse user requirements.
Support and EducationProvides great support, comprehensive documentation, and educational resources, including video courses for getting started with MemberPress and WordPress 101.
Built-in Course BuilderIncludes a built-in course builder for creating and selling online courses directly on WordPress.
Next-Level Marketing ToolsIntegrates seamlessly with top email and automated marketing services, empowering users with advanced marketing capabilities to grow their membership sites.

Pros

✅ The plugin provides powerful content restriction, allowing you flexible content protection (partial content protection, teasers) based on membership levels.
✅ Supports popular payment gateways like PayPal and Stripe, providing flexibility for accepting payments securely.
✅ You can create and customize multiple membership levels with unique pricing, renewal options, and access rules.
✅ Automates membership renewals and sends reminders to members before their subscriptions expire.

Cons

❌ Some users report longer response times from customer support when seeking assistance with technical issues or queries.
❌ The reporting capabilities of it are somewhat limited, making it challenging to gather detailed insights into member activities or site performance.

Pricing: Its basic plan, including unlimited courses and members for single-site use, starts at $179.50/yr

Verdict: MemberPress offers an intuitive, feature-rich solution for WordPress membership sites with robust content restriction and payment options. While it has some design limitations and additional costs for advanced features, it’s ideal for users prioritizing ease of use and powerful management tools over extensive customization.

03. SureMembers – Seamless Memberships, Simplified Experience for All

Best WordPress Membership and Course Plugin, SureMembers

SureMembers simplifies WordPress membership and course management, offering an intuitive platform for creating and managing memberships effortlessly. It features content protection, drip feed scheduling, and integrated payment gateways, allowing multiple membership levels for courses, downloads, or premium content to be easily set up.

The platform’s customizable plans, interactive features, and detailed analytics help manage membership sites effectively. This allows you to focus on delivering valuable content to your audience for a smooth user experience.

Highlighted Features & Benefits

Modular ApproachFocuses solely on content restriction, avoiding additional features found in all-in-one membership platforms. It integrates seamlessly with dedicated checkout platforms and automation tools, offering flexibility and customization.
Access Groups CustomizationEnables the creation of custom access groups for different membership levels, allowing site owners to segment their audience and offer personalized content or privileges based on membership tiers.
Block-Level Control in GutenbergAdds a “Restrict This Block” panel to control all blocks in Gutenberg meaning you can conditionally show/hide any element inside of Gutenberg based on Access Groups.
Flexible and CustomizableWith its customizable access groups, content protection options, and seamless integrations, it offers flexibility and customization to meet diverse content restriction requirements and user preferences.
Seamless Integration with Essential PluginsCompatibility with popular plugins like SureCart and Gutenberg facilitates a hassle-free process of creating a cohesive membership site while minimizing technical challenges.

Pros

✅ Offers a range of cost-effective pricing plans to cater to various budget levels, ensuring that users can choose a plan that suits their financials.
✅ The plugin is lightweight with minimal impact on site performance while creating and managing memberships and courses.
✅ The platform offers responsive customer service, ensuring that users receive timely assistance and solutions to any issues or queries they may encounter while using the platform.
✅ Users can easily create and manage memberships and courses on the platform, streamlining the process and making it easily accessible.

Cons

❌ Some available customization options for branding and design are restricted, potentially hindering users who aim to create a highly personalized & branded experience for their members and learners.
❌ The platform may face scalability challenges when handling a large volume of members or courses. 

Pricing: Its annual Pro plan costs $69 for a single-site use.

Recommended Reading: 5 Powerhouse WordPress Dynamic Content Plugins to Inject Dynamism into Your Website in 2024

Verdict: SureMembers offers a user-friendly, cost-effective solution for basic WordPress memberships and courses, with good support. However, it may not suit users needing advanced features, extensive customization, or high scalability for complex membership sites.

04. TutorLMS – Transforming Websites into Engaging eLearning Platforms

Tutor LMS Best WordPress Membership and Course Plugin

TutorLMS transforms websites into captivating eLearning platforms, empowering educators to create interactive courses. It offers tools for diverse learning styles, including video lessons, quizzes, and certificates.

Users can engage learners with personalized paths, drip content, and gamification. Its user-friendly interface and robust management tools suit solo instructors or institutions. It integrates seamlessly into an engaging online education hub with versatile membership options and secure payment gateways.

Highlighted Features & Benefits

Versatile Course CreationHas a user-friendly course creation process coupled with video integration that offers a versatile and engaging learning experience for students.
Support for Social LearningIntegration with BuddyPress and AutomatorWP supports social learning and automation, fostering a collaborative and interactive learning environment.
Mobile Learning SupportEnables learners to access courses from anywhere, anytime through mobile devices, ensuring a flexible and accessible learning experience.
Data-Driven InsightsDetailed reporting and analytics empower administrators to track course performance, sales, and student engagement, facilitating informed decision-making.
Seamless MigrationUsers can easily migrate from other LMS plugins to it without data loss, ensuring a smooth transition to a feature-rich and user-friendly LMS solution.

Pros

✅ Provides a range of comprehensive features, including quizzes, assignments, and grading tools, allowing instructors to create interactive assessments, track performance, and provide feedback.
✅ Seamlessly integrates with popular e-commerce plugins, enabling instructors to monetize their courses effectively.
✅ Offers an intuitive user interface that simplifies the process of creating and managing courses.
✅ Has extensive options for drip content and multimedia integration.

Cons

❌ Limited integration with third-party plugins somewhat prevents users from having a seamless experience.
❌ Some users have expressed concerns about the pricing plans offered, noting that they may be relatively higher than those of competing e-learning platforms.

Pricing: Its individual plan for a single site license starts at $199/yr

Verdict: TutorLMS offers a user-friendly interface with robust course-building tools, which is ideal for comprehensive e-learning needs. However, it may not suit users requiring extensive third-party integrations or seeking a more budget-friendly option.

05. BuddyBoss – Building Social Communities and Membership Sites with Ease

Best WordPress Membership and Course Plugin, BuddyBoss

BuddyBoss empowers WordPress users to create dynamic social communities and membership sites. It offers exclusive content, interactive features like forums and messaging, and customizable profiles.

With interesting gamification elements and seamless plugin integration, it enhances user engagement and monetization options. One can join forces with this popular custom social platform to build thriving online spaces for collaboration and connection.

Highlighted Features & Benefits

Social Networking and Community BuildingFacilitates creating a private or public social network with customizable features, including member profiles, social groups, activity feeds, and social search functionalities.
WooCommerce IntegrationThe platform seamlessly integrates with WooCommerce sites, allowing users to launch an online store, sell exclusive merchandise, and offer member-only content, thereby enhancing the revenue generation potential.
Gamification FeaturesIncludes gamification features such as achievements, badges, and points to encourage participation and reward active members, enhancing user experience and community dynamics.
Mobile App CreationIt provides the option to create a mobile app for the community and courses, offering flexibility and accessibility for members who prefer accessing content on-the-go.
Customization and Translation SupportOffers advanced customization options for member profiles, social groups, and activity feeds, as well as seamless integration with TranslatePress for multilingual support, ensuring a tailored user experience.

Pros

✅ Integrates with Learndash, enabling users to create and manage online courses making it an excellent choice for educational communities and membership sites centered around learning.
✅ Offers smooth integration with a myriad of third-party plugins & services including e-commerce (through WooCommerce), membership management (via MemberPress), and marketing tools.
✅ Provides students with interactive features like group discussions and messaging to enhance the online learning experience.
✅ Has extensive documentation, dedicated support, and regular updates, ensuring the platform remains secure and up-to-date with new features and improvements.

Cons

❌ Setting it up can be intricate and time-consuming, especially for beginners.
❌ Additional features and functionalities often require purchasing costly add-ons, which can increase the overall cost.

Pricing: BuddyBoss web’s single-site license for courses & communities starts at $299/year

Verdict: BuddyBoss is an excellent choice for those seeking an all-in-one solution for membership sites, online communities, and courses ideal for ambitious projects with social learning needs. While powerful, its complex setup and potential additional costs may challenge beginners or those seeking a simpler, more budget-friendly option.

Also Check Out The Ultimate Guide to Creating a WordPress Membership Site

Final Thoughts

As you can see, these five powerful plugins help build anyone thriving WordPress memberships & courses, offering a wealth of advantages to empower your digital and eLearning journey.

Let’s quickly recap the key highlights of the reviewed plugins

  • LearnDash stands out with its intuitive course creation tools and advanced quiz capabilities, enhancing the learning experience for students while simplifying content management for educators.
  • MemberPress shines in facilitating seamless membership management and robust content protection features, making monetization effortless and user access control a breeze.
  • SureMembers excels in offering a user-friendly interface and simplified membership experiences for all levels of users, ensuring smooth navigation and engagement across your community.
  • TutorLMS transforms websites into dynamic eLearning platforms with its comprehensive course builder and interactive elements, fostering engaging learning environments and driving knowledge retention.
  • BuddyBoss elevates community building and membership site creation with its social networking features, empowering users to connect, collaborate, and thrive within exclusive member communities.

No doubt, by leveraging these powerful plugins, you can supercharge your WordPress site with engaging courses, seamless memberships, interactive communities, and revenue-generating opportunities. Whether you’re an educator looking to inspire learners or a business aiming to foster customer loyalty through exclusive content – these plugins offer the tools you need to succeed in the competitive online landscape.

Browse more in: Essential WordPress Tools, Plugin Reviews, WordPress, WordPress Plugins
Tarun Sikder

Tarun Sikder

Tarun is not your ordinary wordsmith; he's a creative force weaving narratives in the digital realm. As a passionate copywriter, editor, and marketer, he thrives on transforming ideas into compelling stories. With a penchant for all things WordPress, Tarun is more than an enthusiast; he's a dedicated contributor to the global WordPress community.

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