When you have a WordPress website, it’s tempting to add lots of plugins and make the website all-singing and all-dancing. Adding every plugin you can so that your website does everything that you possibly need.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to overload your website and create a poor experience for your visitors. Find out why you shouldn’t have a membership plugin as part of your core website.
So why you shouldn’t have a membership plugin as part of your core website?
- Your main WordPress website has different technical needs to the membership area
- It’s easy to cause problems for both parts of the website when you have both together
- There are other advantages to keeping them separate as you scale.
The Obvious Advantage of WordPress (and its curse)
With WordPress, one of its many attractions is the ability to extend your website into something very powerful simply by adding plugins. WordPress as a platform was originally designed for blogging and nothing else.
Now it can be so much more, adding e-commerce capabilities (e.g. with WooCommerce) and membership capability (e.g. Memberium, MemberPress and more). However, as a WordPress specialist, something I encounter extremely often is where someone has overloaded a website with simply too many plugins.
A WordPress website will run well when it has approximately 20 WordPress plugins or less.
Any more than that, it’ll struggle. I’ve often seen WordPress websites with 40, 60, even 100 plugins. And the prospective client is wondering why the website is so slow!
So why split your core website and membership site?
In a nutshell, the main (marketing) part of your website and the membership part of your website have a big difference in needs. That means if you have both together, then neither part of your website can be optimised very easily.
a) What the main (marketing) part of your website needs
- Assuming that you use your core website for marketing to generate leads or for making sales, your website needs to be as fast as possible. Ideally loading within 2 to 3 seconds or less.
- Images and video need to load very quickly
- Web forms need to process quickly (to give your prospect confidence that it worked)
- Your content is going to be the same for all visitors
- A faster website = more leads.
Fundamentally, the same content is being shared with many people at once. And speed is critical.
b) What the membership part of your website needs
- Each page within your membership area is likely to be different for each person using the system
- If you have training content, each person needs to see their own progress (not someone else’s)
- If you have different membership levels, then each person needs access to different content
- If you’re using gamification to ensure your users devour your content, then they’ll have different status levels of awards they’ve won
- If you have payment details within the system, obviously you don’t want those shared with anyone they don’t belong to.
- If you’re tracking progress or asking for information from your members, you want to keep that information separate from other members
- To a degree, any website slowness will be tolerated by visitors if the experience is very positive.
Fundamentally, each person has their own unique content. Experience is critical.
Why caching is a problem
When you optimise a website for speed, it means the same content is shown to all website visitors. For a membership website, each member needs to see something different. You can’t set caching to its highest level as that means members will see other people’s content.
This is why separating the 2 parts of the website makes perfect sense. You can completely optimise the core website for speed, and really crank up settings that makes it as fast as possible.
On the membership website, you can be more selective, with a lower cache setting that doesn’t compromise the privacy of each member’s content.
How to organise the two websites
This is actually very simple. Have your main (marketing) website on www.yourwebsite.com and then set up members.yourwebsite.com on a subdomain. Your web developer or web agency can help you with this.
They’d be 2 separate websites from a WordPress perspective. You could even have WordPress for your main website, and a different platform for your membership area. Or vice versa!
By separating the two elements of your website into 2 websites, you’re going to simplify each website considerably. This is going to reduce the probability of plugins conflicting with each other.
As you scale and evolve, you’ll be able to upgrade each website independently of each other, which is going to save you significant headaches in the future.
I’ve encountered both of these issues in about 70% of WordPress websites that have built-in membership platforms. Both are common problems.
In a nutshell, separating your main marketing website from your membership platform will make life easier for you and your business, as each part of the website has different needs. If you’re looking to add a membership platform to the mix in your business, I would definitely recommend you create it separately from your core website.
Most web developers will have the skill to help you set them up even though they are independent websites.