Planning Your s2Member Configuration
Table of Contents
This article covers planning your s2Member configuration. s2Member is a complex, highly-configurable WordPress plugin and it is imperative that you have a plan in place before you begin working with s2Member. You can use s2Member to implement countless varieties of membership sites, but you have to know what you want to do so you can choose the right s2Member settings and shortcodes to fulfill your vision.
This article is part of the s2Member User's Guide, a series of articles that cover the fundamentals of using s2Member.
Have a Plan
If you are planning to install s2Member then you probably have content on your website that you only want Members to see. A key part of your plan for setting up s2Member is to know what content you want to protect and who you want to have access to this content. This guide can’t help you there except to tell you to have a plan: don’t try to make it up as you go along.
Before you can envision how your new membership site will work, you need to understand how s2Member directs Visitors when they come to your site. When a Visitor comes to your site and does not log in, they can only see the parts of your site that you have not restricted in any way with s2Member. With the default settings they will not even see restricted content in your menus or in archive, search, or RSS feeds.
So if you want Visitors to see any part of your restricted content, you’ll have to plan for that. You’ll also have to plan how people will learn about your restricted content: will you have a landing page or will you clear the settings that hide restricted content from menus and feeds? Or both?
The basic flow in s2Member is simple: if a Visitor or Member attempts to access content that is restricted above their Membership Level, they are redirected to your Membership Options Page. The Membership Options Page will normally contain links to pages where you have set up payment Buttons or Pro-Forms for your membership plan or plans. The next section describes how user registration flows in s2Member.
How User Registration Flows in s2Member
s2Member (Free Version) / PayPal Button
Website Visitors will go to your Membership Options Page (which you will need to configure on the s2Member General Options panel). (See: WordPress Dashboard → s2Member® → General Options → Membership Options Page). On your Membership Options Page (which you create in WordPress Dashboard → Pages → Add Page), you'll insert the PayPal Subscription Buttons that you generate using the PayPal Buttons panel. (See: WordPress Dashboard → s2Member® → PayPal Buttons).
A website visitor will click on a PayPal Subscription Button on your Membership Options Page. They will be transferred over to PayPal to agree to your Membership terms and pricing. You can customize the Checkout Page Style, Pricing, Payment Periods, and more; when you generate your PayPal Buttons using the PayPal Buttons panel. (See: WordPress Dashboard → s2Member® → PayPal Buttons).
Once your new Member has completed the subscription payment process at PayPal, they'll be returned to your site. s2Member will activate their account instantly, and they can then register: creating a Username and entering other profile details. (Note: they'll be allowed to register, even if you've set Anyone Can Register to Off in your WordPress General Settings. s2Member identifies the Member as having paid for membership access through PayPal).
s2Member will also send the Member an email at their PayPal email address with instructions on how to register their Username, just in case they missed the instructions after checkout. This occurs behind-the-scenes, where PayPal and s2Member communicate with each other through the PayPal IPN service.
Once a Member has completed checkout, registered, and created a Password, they will be able to log in. The first Page they will see after logging in will be your Login Welcome Page (which you will need to configure on the s2Member General Options panel). (See: WordPress Dashboard → s2Member® → General Options → Login Welcome Page). Your Login Welcome Page can contain whatever you like. You'll need to design this Page in WordPress Dashboard → Pages → Add Page.
s2Member (Pro) / Pro-Forms
The free version of s2Member supports PayPal Website Payments Standard using PayPal Buttons. This payment gateway is enabled in both s2Member and s2Member Pro.
s2Member Pro supports several additional payment gateways. These gateways are:
- Stripe + Bitcoin (w/Pro-Forms) - Supports Buy Now & Recurring Subscriptions
- Authorize.net (w/Pro-Forms) - Supports Buy Now & Recurring Subscriptions
- ClickBank (w/Buttons) - Supports Buy Now & Recurring Subscriptions
- PayPal Website Payments Pro (w/Pro-Forms) - Supports Buy Now & Recurring Subscriptions
To enable any (or all) of these payment gateways, please see WordPress Dashboard → s2Member® → Other Payment Gateways.
Note: For the remainder of this tutorial, we will assume you are using PayPal Website Payments Pro with Pro-Forms..
Registration Process Using PayPal Pro-Forms
Website Visitors will go to your Membership Options Page (which you will need to configure on the s2Member General Options panel). (See: WordPress Dashboard → s2Member® → General Options → Membership Options Page). On your Membership Options Page (which you create in WordPress Dashboard → Pages → Add Page), you'll insert links to Pages containing the PayPal Pro Forms that you generate using the PayPal Pro-Forms panel. (See: WordPress Dashboard → s2Member® → PayPal Pro-Forms). Each Page can contain only one Pro-Form, but you can wrap within a single Pro-Form. (See: How do I display multiple checkout options? in the s2Member Knowledge Base.)
Your Visitor will click on a link to a membership offering on your Membership Options Page. The Page this URL links to should contain a PayPal (or other payment gateway) Pro-Form.
The User will complete the profile information on the Pro-Form. This must include the following:
- First Name
- Last Name
- Email Address
- Username (lower case alphanumeric only)
- Billing Method
Additional fields you can use:
- Password and Password Confirm
- Custom Registration Fields
They will then choose a payment method and complete the required payment information. If they select PayPal as their Billing Method, they will be taken to PayPal to complete the payment. If they use a credit card, the transaction will take place completely on your website.
Login Welcome Page
The Login Welcome Page (or LWP) is a WordPress Page you create just as you would create any other Page in WordPress. The LWP is a Page, not a Post. It is the first Page Members will see after logging into your site.
You should create at least an empty LWP before you start configuring anything else in s2Member. We recommend you call it My Login Welcome Page, but you can call it Fred if you want -- just remember what you titled it.
After you've created this LWP, you configure it on this panel: WordPress Dashboard → s2Member® → General Options → Login Welcome Page. Configuring the LWP and the rest of your General Options will be covered in detail in a later KBA in this series.
Once you have all of your s2Member → General Options configured, and once you have a basic understanding of how I works, go back and customize the title and content for the LWP. You'll want to be creative with your Login Welcome Page. However, you should configure your WordPress Dashboard → s2Member → General Options first, and test things out. That way you'll understand why the LWP is important and how it works.
For more details, see this s2Member KB article, Customizing Your Login Welcome Page.
Membership Options Page
The Membership Options Page (or MOP) is a WordPress Page you create just as you would create any other Page in WordPress. The MOP is a Page, not a Post.
Your Membership Options Page should detail all of the features that come with Membership to your site, and provide a Payment Button (or Pro-Form; if you're running s2Member Pro) for each Level of access you plan to offer. The MOP is the Page that visitors will see should they attempt to access an area of your site restricted above their current level of access. The redirection is handled seamlessly by s2Member.
You should create at least an empty MOP before you start configuring anything else in s2Member other than your basic Login Welcome Page. We recommend you call it My Membership Options Page, but you can call it Barney if you want -- just remember what you titled it.
After you've created your MOP, you configure it on this panel: WordPress Dashboard → s2Member® → General Options → Membership Options Page.
Tip: If you allow Open Registration (i.e., Free Subscribers), you might want to place a link on your Membership Options Page that points directly to your Free Registration Form, instead of routing a Visitor through your Payment Gateway first. It's a matter of preference, though.
Always Public: This Page must be public at all times. Access cannot be restricted to the Membership Options Page. Note: for technical reasons, your Membership Options Page cannot be set to your Front Page (i.e., your Home Page); or your Posts Page (i.e., your main Blog Page). Please create a separate (dedicated) Page in WordPress, and then designate it as your Membership Options Page.