How I created a free-access WordPress Membership Site in under 1 hour with Digital Access Pass

by Paul on August 12, 2011

The Developer Channel has since changed to individual accounts, but this is still relevant if you want a single-sign-in membership area

I wrote on my personal blog some time ago about membership sites using WordPress and how I’d created one for my e-book using Digital Access Pass.

Since I’d purchased the developer license of the Digital Access Pass membership software I can add it to as many websites as I wish.  Bargain!

Membership site details and requirements

The membership site in question was this very site: Host Like Toast

Here were the requirements:

  • Content had to be protected from mass downloading – I wanted to provide free access, but controlled
  • I didn’t want users to have an account necessarily on the system – rather a single “access key” for all members

How to do it?  With Digital Access Pass (DAP), creating a membership site that meets almost any requirements you have is easy.

I decided to create a single user account with access to the developer channel downloads and use this as the basis for all public member access.

The following 7 steps are the basic steps I under-took to have a fully functioning free-access membership

Step 1: create the product within Digital Access Pass

First I created a new product with zero price and called it “Host Like Toast Developer Channel”.

Easy. This takes 30 seconds using Digital Access Pass.

Step 2: add a user

In DAP you can manually add a user to a product quickly with just an email address. DAP will create the user and send an email with a password.

I then went into the profile and created a much longer password since those created with DAP are quite short.

Step 3: customize the login form

The image below is a typical form I use on one of my Digital Access Pass membership sites:

Digital Access Pass Login Form (image)As you can see, it has a requirement to fill in the email, password and optionally ‘remember me’. I also don’t want “forget password” link to be run so I simply copied this custom form:

  1. Removed the email field and made it hidden so the user never needs to enter it. It now resembles the following:
    <input type="hidden" name="email" size="8" maxlength="60" value="the-Email-Address-For-The-User-Created-In-Step2" />
  2. Changed ‘Password’ text to: ‘Developer Channel Access Key’
  3. Removed the “remember me” checkbox and made the value hidden (I probably could have removed it altogether, but just in case the login function needed it there I left it)
  4. Removed the “Forgot Password” link altogether

Now it looks like this:

Developer Channel Login Form (image)

So in actual fact it’s exactly the same form, but with some fields hidden and entry boxes removed.

Step 4: Create a Login Page

Again, Digital Access Pass makes this very simple. You create a new WordPress Page, add the special code to display login form, and that’s that.

The Developer Channel login page may be found here:

The contents of this page is as follows:
Enter the login details you were provided for the developer channel below: %LOGIN_FORM%
Don't have an access key? Get it free.

Step 5: Create a dynamic Developer Channel Download Page

If you look at the Developer Channel page, you’ll see a page listing all available downloads.

Through the use of DAP shortcodes for WordPress I can carefully control the content that appears on this page, depending on whether or not you’re logged in.

By using the DAP shortcodes I basically do the following:

  1. If the user is logged in already, display the Download buttons linking directly to the download (as you would expect)
  2. If the user is not logged in, display the download button that links to the Sign-up page.

DAP shortcodes were introduced in version 4.0 and in my opinion are brilliant because you can seamlessly tweak the content of a page so that logged-in users do not get content that is irrelevant.

How often have you browsed a site that asks you to sign-up here and there, login, and other sorts of prompts that are irrelevant if you’re already a member? It happens all the time!

With DAP you simply wrap-up the non-member content in short-codes so that when the user is logged in, they never see the login & sign-up forms and anything else that is irrelevant to a logged-in user.

Check out the two images below. It is the same page, but one with a user that is logged in, the other isn’t.

(ever so simple, but neat)

Developer Channel - Not Logged-In

Developer Channel - Not Logged-In

Developer Channel - Logged-In

Developer Channel - Logged-In

While you can’t see this with the images, the links to the Downloads are different also as mentioned earlier.

Step 6: Interlinking and Flow

There’s nothing worse than logging into a website and being presented with a page that is completely irrelevant.

With Digital Access Pass you can specify the URL of the login page, and the post-login page (globally or at the product level). This means that whenever you login to the developer channel on this site, you get automatically redirected to the developer channel download page.

No messing about.

It’s a tiny setting, but one that makes the user experience that bit smoother.

Step 7: Integration with Mailchimp

In order to allow the developer to access the download area, I send out the access key on the confirmation email from the Mailchimp sign-up.

In this way, only people who want the downloads get access, and I thereby initiate and maintain a connection with a valid audience allowing me to send notices of relevant updates to them.

I can also simply change the password at any time in the future if I feel the downloads section is being abused and reissue it to the list.

Custom Login Form for Digital Access Pass download

I have added my custom login form for this site as a free download. Again, you’ll have to sign-up to the Developer Channel to download it.

It is of course absolutely free. Use the form below.

Use the form below to join our Developer Channel

Do you need an automated CPanel web hosting backup script? There is that and more in the Developer Channel

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Horace December 13, 2011 at 7:20 am

Wonderful Writeup


Paul December 13, 2011 at 8:27 am

Glad to hear you liked it Horace!


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