Membership OR Pro-Sites or Membership AND Pro-Sites

I am trying to figure out what I need to offer different multiples of blog sites at different levels ~ for example, "Starter" 1, "Standard" 5, "Pro" 10 etc. And how to take advantage of one plugin's way of doing membership management, and ditch the other ~ sign up, levels, features, etc.

Any help would be much appreciated.

To be able to offer a different number of blogs at each level it seems to me I need a combination of both Membership Pro AND Pro-SItes to do this, but I would love to hear from someone with the experience to know better.

So much of what these plugins do seems to overlap and some of their screens are so. well, ugly {sorry} ~ no provision having been made to easily reconfigure them ~ I am back into code diving again.

Why, for instance is the Pro-Sites Pricing Table shown in the reverse order? And why do I need three buttons of different sizes there to show that the Free level is free, free for 3 months and free for a year? In fact, why is there no easy way to re-configure/style this page entirely?

It really would be nice if you could select one plugin and the other gets out of the way and makes room for the other to control access to registration, payment gateways, level selection etc. For example, the way Genesis recognises the presence of WP SEO by shutting down its own SEO configuration in favour of Joost's.

At the moment, although the typically WPMUDEV flowery advertising blurb says they work together or complement each other, or whatever, I'm really am struggling to see how exactly.

Terence.

  • aristath

    Hello there Terence,
    Could you please explain your business model a bit? We can't offer any advise on what it would be best to use if we don't first understand what it is that you want to do!

    As for the Pro-Sites checkout table, this is being re-worked and a new version will be available (sorry, no ETA). In the meantime, there is a plugin that you can use to alter that, and you can get it here if you want: http://webfx.cz/store/products/pro-sites-custom-checkout/

    As for the "typically WPMUDEV flowery advertising", where exactly did you find that these plugins are combined?

    Cheers,
    Ari.

  • Ollie

    @Terence

    Over the past few weeks I started playing with these 2 combinations and coming across confusions... After testing a fair bit I came up with the easiest way to connect Membership & Pro Sites.

    Create a free membership infinite subscription that allows unlimited blog creation rights (this is so that when they signup a blog is created for them). Then use Pro Sites to handle your payments and pro sites subscriptions.

    Finally enable pay to blog so that it forces members to use pro sites (even if you do have a free site options)

    The pricing module becomes slightly different because its per site basis, but from there if you are working with multiple sites then you enable the bulk upgrades module, This is where you can group bulk upgrades to sites with discounts etc.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers
    Billy

  • Terence

    Hello Ari,

    I've searched the site and not found the original page I saw talking about integration or "working together", but found several threads from many months ago stating that these 2 plugins were going to be better integrated, but I can't find anything since.

    Did this happen?

    What I'm trying to do is find a way to sell and control access to creating a website then provide upgrade possibilities. So on my multisite network on the main site I assumed in the WPMUDEV schema, I have to use Membership Pro to control access to private forums and Pro-Sites to provide upgrade possibilities.

    That's where it all starts to get messy.

    All members will sign up to a free membership with a single blog. Signing up to additional levels will then give the option to upgrade their membership to a paid level that will include additional Pro Site blogs and access to more premium themes, plugins and, of course, premium support.

    So - should I charge users using Membership Pro who then could activate Pro Sites for their account? Or, do I charge using Pro Sites? Or should I use neither and use my Gravity Forms Registration and Payment plugins?

    The business model is "Premium WordPress Hosting Provider" for a niche market.

    Managed WordPress hosting meaning different things to different providers, but it definitely means they handle the server administration and optimize it for WordPress. To me it means that, plus only hosting WordPress sites and doing it well in a specific niche.

    Other features that I will include:

    * Customer support from WordPress specialists, typically ticket-based with optional phone support

    * WordPress core and plugin updates done for you

    * High-security server settings, including firewalls, load balancers and certain PHP extensions turned off

    * Security-related items like no SFTP or FTP access, malware detection, updating or removing known vulnerabilities

    * Staging server for each WordPress install, a copy of your Production server to be used for testing

    * A black-list of plugins that are disallowed, due to redundant features or security concerns

    * A white-list of plugins the I like, generally don't cause problems and I support first-hand

    * Backups, daily host backup and individual site snapshots stored off-site

    * High-performance server settings and CDN using NGINX and PHP optimizations

    * WordPress-friendly shortcuts in the hosting admin panels, like one-click install for additional sites, one-click backup/restore, and quick access to customer support

    * Excellent eco-friendly hardware and infrastructure hosted by an OpenStack public cloud platform provider

    * Advanced CDN speed, security and functionality will only be included on upper-level plans

    * Minimal downtime, usually with a SLA (service-level agreement, i.e. money-back guarantee) for all levels

    * Your site never gets taken down, and I don't charge you more if you go over your bandwidth or page view limits ~ because there are none.

    * Generous 30 day trial period and 30 day money-back guarantee time period on all levels

    Hope that gives you the information you need.

    I am not sure about the suggested plugin as the website doesn't give me any confidence it will actually improve things and I really need to get to the bottom of this issue with WPMUDEV since this is really the value of my membership we're discussing here.

    Terence.

  • Terence

    @Billzy

    OMG. And here's me thinking I can simplify the whole process... 8^)

    It will be interesting to see where this finally ends. I added Gravity Forms Registration to the mix and now you have thrown in two more plugins when I was hoping to use one less.

    To have to add the Membership Pro plugin to Pro-Sites, just to add assigning different numbers of blogs to each level, seems nuts to me. That should be a function inside Pro-Sites. And I can see one problem straight away ~ I want to offer free blogs.

    So thanks for letting me know how you've done it. I'll take a look at doing it that way but I have to ask the rhetorical question ~ are we both trying to find a workaround for something quite simple and which ought to be in Membership Pro or Pro-Sites already, but EduBlogs doesn't want the hassle of reverse engineering it into their network, so we don't get the logical integration in ours?

    Terence.

  • Terence

    @aristath ~ I just found this quote by Kimberly ~ "Currently Membership an Pro Sites do not integrate. They can be used side by side but do not blend their settings and usage. This is in the works though, but it means this question doesn't have an answer as there is no reason to do so." ~ at Membership and pro sites

    And later on she stated "You CAN use Membership and ProSites together, meaning they will function side by side. They will not integrate. The integration is on the drawing board and will be implemented, but I do not have a date on that. I don't believe it will take years as it's a very popular demand."

    And that was over a year ago. Plus there are many more references to this supposed coming together of these two plugins.

    Terence.

  • Terence

    @aristath

    Ari, I am having difficulty getting my head around the fact that Pro-Sites operates at on a per-site basis, so the upgrade would only occur on the one site it's the user is logged into. The way that it works, on a per-site basis, is not very helpful since I don't want the site upgraded, I want the user to be able to create more sites ~ quite different from per-user plugins like Membership Pro.

    Not quite sure how to get round this.

    Terence.

  • aristath

    ok. I admit it took me some time to read, digest and comprehend all of the above posts.
    Using Pro-Sites + Membership the exact business model that you have in mind will not be feasible. So here's an alternative for you to consider:

    • Users can register for free and can create as many free sites as they like.
    • Free sites have ads and limited abilities.
    • If users want to take full advantage of your services on one of their sites, they can upgrade it using Pro-Sites.

    This way, it's like having a hosting that has a limited free hosting plan for free, and then provides hosting on a per-site basis. So a site is actually a service, making your business more SAAS-like instead of subscription-based.

    How does that sound?

    Cheers,
    Ari.

  • aristath

    Why not? What are the limiting factors?

    The main issue is that we have 2 completely separate plugins, each with its own payment implementation and no way to link them.
    So If I got your business model right, what you want is a way to get paid in the Membership plugin, and as soon as you do, have Pro-Sites automatically apply a pro-level to that user's sites.
    That's why I believe that it 's going to be next to impossible without some custom coding to get that to work.
    Sure it CAN be done... but not out of the box without you having to build a plugin that will behave like a glue between the other 2 plugins.

    Cheers,
    Ari.

  • Terence

    Yes, I agree, I am pretty sure thats the kind of direction I am going to have to go.

    But I don't see it as combining the plugins, I see it more as letting them own do their own thing and just provide a sign-up/upgrade interface to their back-ends.

    For my business model to work as described, client and user-level set-up has to be user-centric, and Pro-Sites can't do that because it isn't. But I also need multiple levels of site control too.

    So I think I am going to need them both and just keep the user away from all three multi-sites, Pro-Sites and Membership interfaces, by creating a fourth ~ Gravity Forms ~ alternative, that manages the sales and upgrade interface for all three functions.

    And if I build it as 'in-between-ware' I can let WPMUDEV and Rocketgenius can do all the heavy lifting of keeping up with the way WP develops.

    Simple really... 8^)

  • Danny

    @Terence, man do I feel your pain. I am trying to do essentially the same thing as you are as far as memberships, access levels, control, etc. The main reason that I joined WPMU was to have one source of fully tested, fully functional integrated components with all the needed functionality so that I didn't have to keep looking for plugins that do some particular thing and may or may not work with other plugins.

    To me the requirements for membership and pro sites seem simple. Membership works fine for a 'member' site of the network, restricting access to content on that site based on a membership level, for that site. The problem here is that there is a 'primary' site, the network host site, if you will, that is treated the same as any other member site as far as the membership plugin goes. But the primary site is unique in that users become members of the network through the primary site. And network membership and theme/plugin access is controlled by pro sites. And as you know those two plugins don’t talk to each other. When someone joins the ‘primary’ site and thus the network then they should be a pro site as well as a member of the primary site, by default. Those shouldn’t be separate things.

    What is needed, in my opinion, is a network membership plugin that works only for the primary site and incorporates pro site and membership features and signup is by USER and a member site membership plugin that works only for a member site on the network of which one user may have many.

    Anyway, none of this rant helps you, but does help me relieve the aggravation at how these two plugins function. I have yet to find the best solution that is simple and usable. The one mentioned above seems doable but I want people to sign up just once if that is their choice and not have to sign up for a free site and then upgrade.

    I really like idea of WPMU Dev, hopefully they will continue to improve the product!

  • Terence

    @Danny ~

    Pain? You betcha! I could see it all slipping away. I even told WPMUDEV, if I didn't get the answers I needed, that was it, I'm offsky! I'd wasted two weeks of my life, forty nine bucks, and more than a few gray cells. And absolutely nothing was working the way I wanted.

    Then it struck me. I had been looking at this all the wrong way. I wanted these plugins to work the way I wanted them to, and all of a sudden I realized ~ they are not going to do that, and WPMUDEV is never going to change them.

    With 300+ plugins they have more than their work cut out just managing the compatibility problems and keeping them current. They are always going to be investing their resources where THEY see their greatest opportunity or return, and that's not necessarily where we do.

    I don't know why these two plugins are the way they are. Probably because they were created by two different developers, at different times for two different clients, with two totally different business models. But now, of course, WPMUDEV is kinda stuck too, with their own user-base paying THEIR mortgages, shopping bills and school fees; THEY can't change them radically either.

    If they don't fit, the standard answer from them has to be ~ "hack it, or go get yourself a code diver". Nothing else for it. Edu-Blogs ain't gonna be doing it our way.

    Then I thought, what's my plan-B?

    They are what they are, these three entities ~ PS, PM and WPMU. The question now is, what is this fourth entity going to look and feel like? The one we need that doesn't try to tie the other three together, but uses what each provides, hides what it doesn't need, or looks tacky, and allows each to do what they are best at.

    Then one little ray of sunshine I realized ~ as long as there are Users for PS and PM, WPMUDEV will keep them current with WPMU, 'cos that's what their customer base needs them to do.

    So that's how the idea of this piece of middleware came about.

    I have already had three or four people ask me to keep them updated on how it develops, which is heartening, since I know its going to cost a pretty penny, even though its still an idea, and won't even be codified until early next week.

    I don't think its too far out, or unkind, to imagine that they probably want to get-in early, so THEY can tell me THEIR ideas on the way I ought to build MY plugin to suit THEIR business models. But you know what? That's the really neat thing about this project ~ and the thing that interests me most ~ I wonder if I can do that?

    Well, however it ends up, this will be an interesting ride, and I am certainly going to give it my best shot.

    Terence.

    P.S. I have been in software development of one kind or another since 1984 and was even Marketing Director of a middleware software developer in Paris at one time. Should be a walk in the park... and if you believe that, I have some real-estate you might be interested in. 8^)

  • Danny

    Hey Terence, Keep me posted. I too am interested. I agree with you all the way. I just haven't figured out my approach yet. I have been in software development since 1980 as a developer, PM, IT exec, yada, yada, yada. Looks like I will have to jump into the LAMP stack for a solution, although I really don't want to do that. Certainly can't pay for someone to do it at this point.

    I will be interested to learn about what you come up with. It is always pretty difficult to take someone else's software and fit it into your requirements. Opposite way of doing things. So I am going to layout how I want my site to work and then figure out the solution.

    Cheers!

  • Ollie

    are we both trying to find a workaround for something quite simple and which ought to be in Membership Pro or Pro-Sites already, but EduBlogs doesn't want the hassle of reverse engineering it into their network, so we don't get the logical integration in ours?

    Yes it should be integrated aready but its not and it makes it a real pain in the ass for everyone else because we would have to spend either more time or money to build custom fixes if you want it to work exactly the way you want.

    From what I've ready the developers have said it cant be integrated easily because pro sites is on a site basis where as membership is on a user basis.

    But yer use the Bulk Upgrades module in Pro Sites network admin, it may help for what you are trying to do... You could also do multiple membership subscriptions to handle the amount of blogs each person can register.

  • aristath

    Hello there @Tim,

    I'm afraid that no, there is no way to do this out of the box.
    You will have to custom-code this yourself and possibly simply change the Pro-Sites level on the database for that site depending on the user's membership level.

    If you are not comfortable with PHP you can hire a developer to do that for you by posting a new job in our Jobs Board on https://premium.wpmudev.org/wordpress-development/

    Cheers,
    Ari.

  • mangoman

    It's been awhile, yet there hasn't been a "final" answer on this proposal.

    Here is my goal: I'm also trying to find an automated, front-end user-registration for a "initial signup fee plus monthly recurring fee" solution - which is what *I think* the Membership plugin (for the initial fee plus recurring monthly fee) *plus* Pro Sites plugin (for the blog creation) can accomplish. This is what the original poster Terrence aimed to do...but did he? And, how?

    I'd love a developer to explain if this is possible using these plugins, and how to configure them.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

  • Jack Kitterhing

    Hi there @mangoman,

    Hope you're well today and thanks for your question.

    I can confirm this isn't currently possible using these plugins, you can use either pro sites or membership, but Pro sites conflicts with Membership.

    We are looking into various possibility for Membership 4.0, which is a major rewrite we're currently doing.

    Though currently you'd need to use Pro sites or Membership.

    Thanks!

    Kind Regards
    Jack.

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