Creating and maintaining a subscription-service or membership-based site has got to be one of the more troublesome things to do on WordPress. There are a ton of solutions out their that integrate with WordPress, but none provide the “end all – be all” solution. I spent a couple years working with the team that built WPMUDev’s Membership plugin and was amazed at the seemingly infinite features and combinations that end users needed as well as the complexities of implementing a UX that allowed for this variety and still maintained some sort of logical “flow”.
I wonder if a membership solution that effectively manages multiple subscription models and provides an easy setup procedure is even possible. As a result, it came as little surprise to me when ZippyKid announced that they would no longer support sites based on WishList Member. Like all managed WordPress hosts, they have a standard set of parameters that they work within which allows them to provide their services as best as they can and scale to as many users as possible. This isn’t specific to ZippyKid either. WP Engine, of course, also has their own list of “disallowed” plugins – and these plugins have made the list because they are incompatible with the system that WP Engine has in place.
There are plenty of reasons why WishList Member would not be recommended (or even supported.) In fact, the list of developers with complaints about WishList Member is fairly substantial. The plugin’s use of obfuscated code is of particular frustration and like most plugins that have been around as long as it has, it suffers from heaps of “spaghetti” code and code variation that make troubleshooting particularly difficult.
That being said, however, plenty of well-known sites still utilize WishList, from WooCommerce to the folks at Shopp. There are also developers who highly recommend it. Currently, if you’re looking at creating a membership site, I can’t point to any solution that totally hits the bullseye, but suggest reviewing the flow chart by Chris Lema over here is a good start.
And now for the good news! If you’ve read to this point, you may be asking, “but, Mason, I beseech thee, kind sir! What about sites that have been using WishList for years and have a lot of subscriber history they want to keep and don’t have the time or funds for migrating to a new system?” Well, I’m happy to report that WP Valet has spent quite a bit of time working with WishList on WP Engine and we’ve been able to make a ton of progress in making it compatible with WP Engine. It’s been a fun challenge, and yes, it’s doable. If you’re looking to take advantage of powerful managed-WordPress hosting and still use your WishList Members plugin you should get in touch with us right over here.
Later in the week I’ll give a sneak peak at some of the things we do to make sure WishList folks have the most smooth experience while at WP Valet.