This s2Member Review is actually about the two sides of the plugin: free and paid. Obviously, the free version of s2Member lacks functions that are available in the Pro version of the software. We’ll refer to these two as s2Member Framework and s2member Pro from now on if we need to cite differences between them, otherwise it’ll just be s2Member. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, s2Member is a WordPress plugin that allows you to effectively manage the membership of your site, protect content and downloadable files, integrate several payment systems as well as administer your affiliate programs and track affiliates.
Let’s Get to It: Membership
s2Member works well with WordPress Roles and Capabilities. First, you’ll need a Login Welcome Page, right? You can customise it any way you want with s2Member, so you can be original. The registration design is also up to you, as you can add custom fields to it. s2Member supports optional open registration too. You can have unlimited membership levels and you can customize each level to your liking by adding or removing capabilities. If people are paying for their membership on your site, then you’ll probably need s2Member Pro to take over the s2Member Framework, because the latter’s upper limit is only 4 paid membership levels. The same goes for the capabilities of membership levels: with s2Member Framework you can only give out paid custom capabilities, whereas the Pro version allows you to hand out free ones. You can also create accounts manually and set up one-time offers when members log in: this is only available in s2Member Pro.
Payment Methods and Systems
PayPal Standard Button
Both versions are integrated with the option of PayPal Standard button and come with the features that it allows for; however, s2Member Pro has the upper hand over s2Member Framework by supporting custom Thank You Pages which you can once again customize yourself.
PayPal Pro Form
Yeah, it’s no surprise that this function is present in s2Member Pro only. The PayPal Pro Form feature includes support for recurring and non-recurring subscriptions, grants you with the PayPal Pro lifetime access and gives you the ability to configure endless number of coupon codes as well as designate which coupon codes apply to specific PayPal Pro forms. One more fun aspect of this feature is that you can sell access to posts and pages to customers that have not registered. It could be a good way to sell digital products that can be delivered through WordPress posts or pages.
Authorize.Net, Google Checkout and ClickBank Support
Save for the ever-so-popular PayPal, the payment gateway service providers listed above are also compatible for use with s2Member Pro. The features in the abovementioned payment gateways are quite similar to those of PayPal, so I’m not going to talk about them any further; although I would note the fact that you can sell your ClickBank lifetime access with s2Member Pro.
Content Access Control
Both s2Member Framework and s2Member pro can restrict access to all of your WordPress pages, posts or categories, including content, as well as URLs and alternative views. You can set “Buy Now” access to specific posts and pages, as was mentioned earlier already. You also get your unique security encryption key that came with the installation.
File Download Protection
The two versions protect your downloadable files by setting restrictions such as by membership level and custom capability. S2Member is integrated with Amazon S3 and Amazon Cloudfront, the latter of which it automatically configures. You can protect your audio and video streaming and store protected files locally. JW Player and Flowplayer are supported for streaming.
Update and Import/Export Features
This is mostly all about s2Member Pro once again. You can mass promote, demote and delete members and users with the free version too, but functionalities like importing and exporting members and users via .CSV as well as importing updates to all or some members comes with the professional version.
Widgets and Plugins
In this case s2Member Framework competes with s2member Pro by being compatible with most WordPress themes and plugins, WP Super Cache, Quick Cache and W3 Total Cache, plus specific user login form widgets. But one thing the free version doesn’t have is the s2Member pro login widget.
Email List Management
s2member Framework and s2Member Pro come integrated with AWeber and MailChimp. Both versions also support the AWeber and MailChimp automatic unsubscribe function upon cancellation. If you are using MailChimp then you can automatically transition your email lists across all sorts of membership levels. That function isn’t available with AWeber.
Both the free and paid version of s2Member come pre-integrated with iDevAffiliate and ShareASale, both of which are respectable affiliate management and commission tracking tools. They also cost quite a lot, but if you’re in business, then you should put them to good use. Google Analytics and Google Adwords are also supported.
Other Noteworthy Features
Both versions are compatible with BuddyPress and bbPress, which you can use to create your own WordPress social network and forums. You can use the WordPress multi-site networking ability with both versions too. However, to make sub-sites available for members or determine the number of them available for specific members requires the s2Member Network Support licence. s2member Framework and s2Member Pro are also equipped with a bunch of advanced features that developers can make use of.
s2Member Pro is a one-time 69 dollars for a single site licence and 129 USD for a unlimited-site licence. You can top that with the network support licence which includes both the functionalities of the free and paid version and adds support for unlimited sub-sites and child blogs that you can make available to your members. It’s $289.
I like the fact that s2Member has a free version with a lot of useful features. This way you can really know for sure whether the plugin is for you or not. But all in all, s2Member, be it the framework or pro version, is worth a shot.
S2Member is there for your membership management purposes.