Membership site expert needed.

35 replies
Hi all. I'm starting my own membership site (I currently have 2000 members in a free Group of mine) but haven't a clue where to start. I know there is software around - I just read a whole membership thread on here and have jotted down several names to look into such as:

Amember Membership Site Creator
Instant Member
Easy/Simple Member Pro


But before I start reading through all the information, does membership software allow things like group chat and member profiles? Or is it a case of they just offer a way for people to sign up?

Another area I'm confused about is this: can I have a high traffic website (say a million a day) with such software. Ive looked into high traffic hosting and as I understand it, as my site progresses, I can upgrade and then eventually use a dedicated host. But can the software handle the traffic. I know nowt about this sort of thing.


Thanks,


Kris
#expert #membership #needed #site
  • Profile picture of the author sjy156
    Krista....
    Awesome that you have those numbers. i hope you are monetizing those visitors and members.

    i have nowhere near the volume you have, but i use optimize press with wishlist member now and will add the simplepress plugin when i'm ready to start a forum.

    op and wlm integrate with many payment systems, provide simple and easy to use platforms and lots of incredible benefits. seriously, for op, i've spent 4 years learning to code what op does for $100 unlimited site license.

    wlm is 300 for unlimited license.
    simplepress is $100/year.

    you could also direct this question to James Dyson at OP and i'm sure he'd help you out.
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    • Profile picture of the author sjy156
      oh, and as you alluded to, you are going to need (or keep) server capabilities. WLM is only limited by your server.
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  • Profile picture of the author WillR
    I use and recommend Digital Access Pass. It's by far the most feature rich option out of them all and leaves room to grow as time goes on. Good support also. You can read all their documentation here to see if it suits your needs.

    DigitalAccessPass.com Documentation

    I use Wordpress to run the site and thus you can integrate anything you want with that. Forums, private messaging systems, etc. You are only limited by Wordpress plugins but even then you could still have your own plugins created for any special and unique features you needed.
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    • Profile picture of the author SurrealPSD
      Ditto on WillR's recommendation - Im using DAP as well, it's incredibly intuitive and has an in-built affiliate system which is extremely handy.

      I had it set up in time.

      Conzz

      Originally Posted by WillR View Post

      I use and recommend Digital Access Pass. It's by far the most feature rich option out of them all and leaves room to grow as time goes on. Good support also. You can read all their documentation here to see if it suits your needs.

      DigitalAccessPass.com Documentation

      I use Wordpress to run the site and thus you can integrate anything you want with that. Forums, private messaging systems, etc. You are only limited by Wordpress plugins but even then you could still have your own plugins created for any special and unique features you needed.
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  • Profile picture of the author unknowncat
    You might consider using Joomla! with the JomSocial extension for profiles. There's a few extensions available for chat, and plenty of other functions to choose from. Best of luck with your new site!
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  • You need to contact Giuseppe Puma. He is a membership site consultant. If you can't find him on the warriors forum send me a pm and I will track him down.
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  • Profile picture of the author Krista34
    Thankyou all. I need to look into all the suggestions here as I am a techno thicko so it takes some time. In the future I might get my site built from scratch but for the moment - I need something sturdy that can handle the traffic as it grows. When it hits a certain number, I will look into other options. I was looking at BuddyPress sites built on WP last night and I might be able to do something with that. But for the meantime I need to go through all your posts - thanks again and I will report back. If anyone has any other suggestions for me, please let me know. I NEED something simple to use from the backend, I'm also thinking if, say I used BP or any of the suggestions in this thread, I will be able to hire someone to put it together for me and that will be a lot cheaper than one built from scratch.
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    • Profile picture of the author WillR
      Originally Posted by Krista34 View Post

      Thankyou all. I need to look into all the suggestions here as I am a techno thicko so it takes some time. In the future I might get my site built from scratch but for the moment - I need something sturdy that can handle the traffic as it grows. When it hits a certain number, I will look into other options. I was looking at BuddyPress sites built on WP last night and I might be able to do something with that. But for the meantime I need to go through all your posts - thanks again and I will report back. If anyone has any other suggestions for me, please let me know. I NEED something simple to use from the backend, I'm also thinking if, say I used BP or any of the suggestions in this thread, I will be able to hire someone to put it together for me and that will be a lot cheaper than one built from scratch.
      You will be able to find plenty of people who can put these membership sites together for you. My recommendation though would be to do it yourself. If you are going to be running a membership site it's very useful if you know how it all works. It also makes things much easier when you want to create a second membership site... and a third.
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  • Profile picture of the author CyberAlien
    Originally Posted by Krista34 View Post

    Another area I'm confused about is this: can I have a high traffic website (say a million a day) with such software. Ive looked into high traffic hosting and as I understand it, as my site progresses, I can upgrade and then eventually use a dedicated host. But can the software handle the traffic. I know nowt about this sort of thing.
    Being able to handle a lot of traffic is more about the server than the software.

    The software would handle the signups and manage your contact so it should of course be optimized to have a clean database and everything. But any membership software should be able to maintain well over 2,000 accounts. 99% of them can handle that many new signups on a daily basis.
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  • Profile picture of the author vtotheyouknow
    Originally Posted by Krista34 View Post

    But before I start reading through all the information, does membership software allow things like group chat and member profiles? Or is it a case of they just offer a way for people to sign up?
    Hi Krista, like Will and others, I highly recommend you go with DAP. I've set up a lot of membership sites and it's the best membership software out there, period.

    In the case of DAP, yes you can have member profiles. You can have chat as well using Ravi and Veena's (DAP developers) WPchatR plugin.

    Originally Posted by Krista34 View Post

    Another area I'm confused about is this: can I have a high traffic website (say a million a day) with such software.
    Ravi, what do you think?


    Krista, let me know if you need some help figuring out how to do all of this "stuff". It's my full-time gig. :-)

    Best Wishes,
    Vic
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    • Profile picture of the author ravijayagopal
      Krista/Vic,

      Like Chase Watts mentioned earlier in this thread, the biggest bottle neck for big traffic is your server.

      Of course, it is imperative to have a well-designed and developed membership software that optimizes database queries, etc. But ultimately, the main thing to consider, is server capacity.

      MySQL, the database that powers WordPress and DAP and other plugins, can scale to hundreds of millions of rows of data. But if the server doesn't have enough memory and resources to scale to allow concurrent usage (when many visitors and members arrive at your web site at the same time), then that's when things can really slow down, and even come to a grinding halt.

      The good news is that hosting is not very expensive these days. With many web hosts like rackspace, liquidweb and hostgator offering inexpensive cloud-based, scalable server options, you can expand your server as you go, and you can even add more resources right before a big launch, and then scale down for the rest of the time.

      Basically, you can fine tune server capacity as your membership site and traffic grows. But you can't easily swap our your membership plugin like you can do with your server resources, so be sure to choose a platform that can grow with as your membership site grows.

      Originally Posted by vtotheyouknow View Post

      Originally Posted by Krista34
      Another area I'm confused about is this: can I have a high traffic website (say a million a day) with such software.
      Ravi, what do you think?
      Vic
      - Ravi Jayagopal
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      • Profile picture of the author Krista34
        ravijayagopal, thanks a lot for that as it verified my research but you have given me more information which is great. Id already contacted Hostgator to make sure they allowed for high traffic and they do that. Then I can use a dedicated server when the time arrives.

        vtotheyoukno, I haven't got around to messaging you today. I did have a look at DAP but couldnt make head nor tail of it (sorry ravijayagopal). At the moment Im looking into using BuddyPress and a theme such as Mingle. I will get someone to make that for me if I go that way. Im assuming the membership options given in this thread are addons that can be used for a BP/WP site? At first, I thought these applications also gave the different functionalities such as groups, IM, Search etc etc but I now see most of them dont and I will have to use a mixture of BP plus the membership plugins. But I see that BP and WP do their own membership software which I imagine will be less sophisticated than the membership apps listed here such as aMember and DAP etc?

        Can someone answer me this please (sorry I know Im being a drain). Would it be better for me to get my site built from scratch? If so, what are the benefits to doing this than using a mixture of the above? I know this way will be much more expensive so what they offer has to merit the price.

        Confused, knackered and brain dead in the UK.
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        • Profile picture of the author vtotheyouknow
          Originally Posted by Krista34 View Post

          ravijayagopal, thanks a lot for that as it verified my research but you have given me more information which is great. Id already contacted Hostgator to make sure they allowed for high traffic and they do that. Then I can use a dedicated server when the time arrives.

          vtotheyoukno, I haven't got around to messaging you today. I did have a look at DAP but couldnt make head nor tail of it (sorry ravijayagopal). At the moment Im looking into using BuddyPress and a theme such as Mingle. I will get someone to make that for me if I go that way. Im assuming the membership options given in this thread are addons that can be used for a BP/WP site? At first, I thought these applications also gave the different functionalities such as groups, IM, Search etc etc but I now see most of them dont and I will have to use a mixture of BP plus the membership plugins. But I see that BP and WP do their own membership software which I imagine will be less sophisticated than the membership apps listed here such as aMember and DAP etc?
          Correct.

          Originally Posted by Krista34 View Post


          Can someone answer me this please (sorry I know Im being a drain). Would it be better for me to get my site built from scratch?
          Unless you want a custom design, I personally don't see the point of spending money building your site from scratch. Bottom line is that you'll still need a good membership solution and you won't get that custom built. No way, no how. Unless you have a VEEERY big budget! :p

          If so, what are the benefits to doing this than using a mixture of the above? I know this way will be much more expensive so what they offer has to merit the price.

          Confused, knackered and brain dead in the UK.

          Confused, knackered AND brain dead? Darn...you been drinking on the job Krista? ;-)

          Like I said, your best bet is to go with Wordpress + DAP + a good wordpress theme + plugins that do you want.

          If you have some ├╝ber-specific things you'd like to do, maybe you'd need to get that custom coded. And even though I'm not sure what you're looking to put together, I doubt it's anything that you couldn't handle fairly elegantly using a combination of Wordpress, DAP, a good theme and the right plugins.

          [/QUOTE]

          I know it's a lot to wrap your head around Krista, so if you need me to distill this stuff and make it simple for you, just shoot me a message on Skype.

          Best Wishes,
          Vic
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  • Profile picture of the author PPC-Coach
    I use amember on all mine. Works well and easy to use. I've never tried the others though, (no need for me as I'm very happy with amember).

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  • Profile picture of the author Krista34
    vtotheyouknow - will message you tomorrow. My brain is fried.
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  • Profile picture of the author unknowncat
    Going to second WillRs point,
    recommending that you do as much as you can yourself to setup and run your membership site. Doing so will empower you to make changes, add or adjust functionality, and keep in relationship as much as possible with your members.

    However, consultants and techies can come in very useful along the way.
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  • Profile picture of the author Krista34
    Well you are a helpful bunch. Thankyou all so much. I'm going to take a couple of days to mull things over and answer any private messages I've had and I think I will be ready to make a decision next week. Thankyou especially to Vic and Ravi - I might be in contact soon. When starting a new venture we need to be informed don't we. The more informed we are, the better choices we make. A couple of people have said I should learn to use the software Im using so Im more in control and I agree and will do that once I know what Im going with.
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  • Profile picture of the author GerardCoyne
    DigitalAccessPass is my recommendation also. It has probably all of the features you would expect from membership software, plus it seems to be well supported. The recommendation above to combine it with Wordpress is a great one, you don't want to waste time custom-building a site when you have serious marketing to be doing!
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  • Profile picture of the author thedanbrown
    Ya there are a bunch of different options. Depends what exactly you need out of your content delivery and what you're offering inside your membership offer (I'm assuming it's going to be a paid membership).

    No need to get too hung up on the technology. Seems like you have good stats already so do a little bit of research to see what features different services offer then just choose one and go for it.
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  • Profile picture of the author webrankingservices2000
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    First of all, Congratulations ! To have so many members. There must have been something special about it. Well, getting members was the toughest part which you have done , now let us handle the rest easier part,
    Even if you know the software in order to make a community you will need us again.
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  • Profile picture of the author Krista34
    It seems that if you have a community website with many files (??), you need to consider computation power and not just the server bit. So Im looking into this now. Im not sure BP and WP have this power? Does anyone know of any WP/BP large community sites by any chance? As ever, thanks lol. Im laughing cos Im a bit delirious.
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  • Profile picture of the author ClaraBr
    Banned
    There are many who can help you out with this. However, if you know the saying, sorry for repeating it to you: "Give a man a fish and you'll feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you'll feed him for a lifetime." So I think it would be useful for you to learn how a membership site works.
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  • Profile picture of the author jchan617
    Would a vBulletin forum be good for memberships?
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    • Profile picture of the author Krista34
      Originally Posted by jchan617 View Post

      Would a vBulletin forum be good for memberships?
      Yeah Ive looked at the forum software but I'm not really interested in that I dont think. It would sure be easier to do than all the research I'm doing now though, but I think Id rather wait and get what I really want. But yes as far as I know, you can set up a paid membership forum relatively easy.
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  • Profile picture of the author Brian Tayler
    Large membership sites are my specialty, i'll PM you.
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  • Profile picture of the author unknowncat
    Krista, computational power is practically all about hardware not software.

    How much processing can your server (aka web host) process is an issue that you'd best put in the hands of a trusted hosting company. Find a good hosting company and they'll be able to upgrade your sites server situation as needs be. If you need a recommendation, I've been working with a great company for at least a dozen years called hostforweb.

    Wordpress is pretty optimized for speed as far as the code goes. So is Joomla. Most membership systems available should be robust enough to handle any load as long as your machines are there to do the actual work.

    Hope this answers your question.
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    • Profile picture of the author Krista34
      Originally Posted by unknowncat View Post

      Krista, computational power is practically all about hardware not software.

      How much processing can your server (aka web host) process is an issue that you'd best put in the hands of a trusted hosting company. Find a good hosting company and they'll be able to upgrade your sites server situation as needs be. If you need a recommendation, I've been working with a great company for at least a dozen years called hostforweb.

      Wordpress is pretty optimized for speed as far as the code goes. So is Joomla. Most membership systems available should be robust enough to handle any load as long as your machines are there to do the actual work.

      Hope this answers your question.
      Thanks for this. Ive decided to go with Hostgator though because I've been with them for a while now and I just love their customer support. They do scalable hosting and the VPS thingies.

      Oh so computational power is all about hosting (bandwidth, size etc)? So when I do a press release/media/whatever, I will need to be prepared for an influx of traffic and get the appropriate upgrade to be able to deal with it. If thats all it is, I can deal with that no problem. But I spoke to a programmer yesterday and he said its not just a case of traffic, its also the fact that as my site will be a community, it will have more data and I need to be able to handle that with proper software. And he said WP/BP wouldnt be able to handle it.

      Now I know WP was initially meant to be a blogging platform but its now quite an established CMS, although Ive heard that Drupal and Joomla are better (how - I have no idea). So Im still trying to sift through all the information so I can decide what platform to use. WP, Joomla, Drupal etc. I really want to go with WP as Im used to it, and then I can move on later on down the line if I feel WP isnt working for me.

      Ive yet to find a large community website built with WP and BP, so that makes me a bit wary.
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  • Profile picture of the author unknowncat
    One thing to take into account would be your sites allotted bandwidth per month. If you're going to have big files like videos for your members, you'll want to make sure you're set up with a generous amount of bandwidth on your hosting. Otherwise your site might get shut down for a while until you get online to upgrade your hosting account. If you're not using big files, worry less about it. But after some time of running your own site you'll get a feel for how much bandwidth you need for your traffic levels and content. Some hosts out there advertise unlimited bandwidth but I wouldn't trust that. Seems technically impossible.
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  • Profile picture of the author unknowncat
    Personally very in love with Joomla. Wordpress is better for blogging (although J can be used for that too and there's even a bridge to run them in tandem) I love Joomla in part because of the thousands of great extensions and for the wealth of knowledge available from the very passionate community.

    Yes on ready up the bandwidth for traffic influx,
    if the press release really gets eyebals and clicks
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    • Profile picture of the author Krista34
      From what I can gather there is a bit of debate as to whether WP is a suitable CMS system. Don't confuse me by talking Joomla now lol - I've had enough!! Maybe I will nip over for a little look though...
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      • Profile picture of the author WillR
        Originally Posted by Krista34 View Post

        From what I can gather there is a bit of debate as to whether WP is a suitable CMS system. Don't confuse me by talking Joomla now lol - I've had enough!! Maybe I will nip over for a little look though...
        DAP and Wordpress are fine. I am currently using that combination right now for two membership sites with 8,000+ members each. They have been running perfectly for 2+ years.

        Don't waste too much more time looking around.

        Just go and get things setup and move to the next step.
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  • Profile picture of the author Krista34
    Lighbulb moment lol here. Vic and Ravi, I just reread your posts. Its the functionalities I need that need to be scaleable!!!!! I can use WP but make sure that I get solid and scalable funtionality!! Like DAP that can cater for a whole load of data. No use getting a plugin that can only handle a few thousand members. And that goes for all the functionalities I want to add on. I also read that WP can be hard coded for specific requirements which will give me cleaner code.
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    • Profile picture of the author Krista34
      Originally Posted by Krista34 View Post

      Lighbulb moment lol here. Vic and Ravi, I just reread your posts. Its the functionalities I need that need to be scaleable!!!!! I can use WP but make sure that I get solid and scalable funtionality!! Like DAP that can cater for a whole load of data. No use getting a plugin that can only handle a few thousand members. And that goes for all the functionalities I want to add on. I also read that WP can be hard coded for specific requirements which will give me cleaner code.
      Well this is totally wrong (my "lightbulb" moment). As someone above said - computational power is about the hardware and not the software!!

      Hi Will. I'm thinking big here and want to be prepared. Im in two minds whether to set it up with a combination of WP/BP/DAP etc and then study computing more over the next six months and swap over when my site grows, OR to get it right the first time. But, I think I have learnt enough from all you lovely people so I will let you all go now. Will update this thread when Ive decided. Huge thanks to everyone again.
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  • Profile picture of the author unknowncat
    It is a bit like moving into a new house.. Or office! Wise to study up and compare before making the decision. One thing I was thinking about your situation Krista is that you might want to clearly define your goals for your site. In a world of infinite possibilities, what would you ideally offer your clients besides simply 'membership'? Something to think about as you're researching.. Also I thought I should let you know that Joomla does have a bridge to wordpress, so you wouldn't need to undo what's already done. Whichever way you choose to go I wish you all the Best! (and I thank you for appreciating our input
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