How to Create a Client Portal for WordPress: The Ultimate Guide
- There are various client portal plugins available for WordPress, including Simple Membership, Client Dash, WP Customer Area, each offering different features and pricing options.
- A separate product like SPP can provide more scalability, customization options, and professional support for complex setups.
As a freelancer or agency owner, you want to provide your clients with the best experience—and a client portal solution is one of the most powerful ways to do just that. It allows your clients to log in and access the resources they need with ease, even when they’re in async with you, thus making communication smoother and raising the bar for your efficiency levels.
Creating a client portal for WordPress isn’t difficult, but it can be an intimidating process, especially considering the wide range of plugin options you have. To make it easier for you, we’ve created a guide that outlines the process of creating a client portal for WordPress: from setting up hosting to customizing your portal. This included what alternatives you have to WordPress client portals and the disadvantages posed by traditional plugins.
Here’s what you need to know about creating a client portal for your WordPress site.
What is a WordPress client portal plugin?
With a dedicated plugin you can create a client portal in WordPress where customers can access resources and communicate with you. It’s a great way to improve customer satisfaction and manage client relationships, as it allows you to lock specific resources behind a login.
Advantages of client portals for WordPress
Creating a client portal for your WordPress site can be quite beneficial, as it allows you to:
securely store files, resources, and communications with clients
offer a better client onboarding experience
eliminate the need for meetings
improve your team’s efficiency
create a single point of information
improve project management
Disadvantages of client portals for WordPress
Client portals also come with disadvantages, and you need to know about them. Some of the most frequent complaints against WordPress client portals include:
issues related to security and privacy (e.g., sensitive information being exposed, data breaches)
difficulty in managing client portals (e.g., cluttered interface)
potential compatibility issues with other plugins or themes
a limitation on customization options
problems with integrations (e.g., depending on the plugin, challenges to manage contacts or integrate third-party services
How to create a client portal for your WordPress site
As mentioned before, creating a client portal for WordPress isn’t difficult. However, the specifics of how to get your client portal up and running depend on the WordPress plugin you use, but overall, the steps to follow come down to:
Finding your preferred client portal plugin (on their website or on the official WordPress plugins page)
Downloading and installing the plugin
Configuring your client portal according to your needs.
Regarding the configuration, you may want to set up a payment gateway in your client portal so that you can accept payments without having to manually issue invoices. Likewise, think about giving clients specific user rights so they can access the right resources, for instance their invoices.
Best practices in configuring client portal plugins for WordPress
Let’s look at a few best practices that you should keep in mind when configuring your client portal plugin.
Choose the right plugin for your specific needs
The first step in creating a client portal is to find the right plugin. There are several plugins available, each with its own features and capabilities. Make sure to research each plugin thoroughly before committing to one.
Secure the portal
Security is essential for any online service, and client portals are no exception. Deploy an SSL certificate for your domain and provide additional security measures such as two-factor authentication. This ensures that you’re running a secure client portal.
Configure the access rights properly
Access rights are critical when it comes to client portals. It’s important to properly configure them so only intended users can access your portal.
Top 6 client portal plugins for WordPress
One simple search for “client portal plugins” on the WordPress plugins page will reveal no less than 240 results. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, that is understandable. After all, you don’t have the time to sift through that many options and see which one works best.
Below are six client portal plugins for WordPress I’ve selected based on the following features:
overall rating and recommendations
Simple Membership is a membership plugin that allows you to create a private membership system for collecting payments, restricting access to private content, and more. It offers user profiles, unlimited memberships and content restriction levels, and supports multiple payment gateways.
The plugin also provides a multi-language feature to allow you to create a client portal in different languages. Although Simple Membership may not work for many agency use cases, it’s great for small businesses or entrepreneurs who need to manage users and content. For instance, if you run your agency on a subscription model, adding your customers as members of your website and allowing them to self-manage is a great way to streamline payments, communication, and deliveries.
Pricing for Simple Membership is $0.
Client Dash allows you to customize several elements of your admin pages, such as which roles can see the page, what the page icon is, and so on. Furthermore, it will allow you to see all your changes using a live preview area, and it will allow you to customize the admin page menu however you want (by adding, removing, or reordering whatever items you wish to).
Client Dash comes with two main versions, a free one (with basic features) and a paid one (called "Ultimate Client Dash", and which comes with more advanced features, such as customization options, client access setup, short codes, and so on. The paid version comes with three pricing packages, at $25, $75, and $150 per month (when billed annually).
WP Customer Area
WP Customer Area is a membership plugin that allows you to create private pages for members or customers. With this plugin, you can easily manage users, assign them different roles, restrict content, and create custom registration forms.
WP Customer Area is free of charge, but to run more advanced features on it, you will have to buy add-ons (which cost around $60 per add-on, as a one-time price).
In essence, Support Candy is a customer support plugin for WordPress. Still, you can use it as a basic client portal, especially regarding tickets, service level agreements, user groups, and time tracking (for your team). Although it may not have a lot of client portal capabilities (like a private area or file management), it does allow you to have an intuitive support system for customers.
Support Candy has a free basic version, as well as a paid version that includes all extensions and comes in three pricing tiers: $79, $149, and $299 per month, paid yearly. The main differences between the different pricing tiers lie in how many sites you can use Support Candy for (one, five, respectively 20 sites). This plugin does not offer a free trial, but they have a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you’re not satisfied with the product.
Jetpack CRM is a customer relationship management tool designed specifically for WordPress. It offers various features to help entrepreneurs and small businesses manage their contacts, sales, invoices, and more. The main features of Jetpack CRM include contact management, quote and invoice building, transaction tracking, client portal, task scheduling, WooCommerce synchronization, and custom fields.
The tool is free to use, with optional paid extensions available for added functionality. You can also get Jetpack CRM in one of the three paid pricing plans, each including a selection (or all) extensions available. The paid plans come at $11 and $18 per month, billed yearly, for a 5-extension package, respectively for all 30+ CRM extensions available. The third pricing tier is especially built for resellers and it will cost you $5.40 per site, per month, billed yearly.
Awesome Support is a customer support plugin for WordPress websites. It provides a comprehensive set of features to help businesses manage their customer inquiries and support tickets effectively. The plugin enables businesses to create a ticketing system, allowing customers to submit support requests and track their progress. It offers features such as email notifications, ticket assignment, ticket prioritization, knowledge base integration, and custom ticket fields.
Awesome Support aims to streamline the customer support process and improve customer satisfaction. The plugin is highly customizable and compatible with various WordPress themes. It is designed to be user-friendly and suitable for businesses of all sizes.
Awesome Support has a bare-bones free version which you can download and try, but they also have four pricing plans: $149, $229, $289, and $409 per year. All paid plans include unlimited tickets, unlimited agents, unlimited ticket history, and unlimited file attachments.
Alternatives to client portals
Client portal WordPress plugins are great because they are easy to install, require minimal customization, and offer lots of features. However, if you’re looking for something more robust than what these plugins provide, there are alternatives for you.
Grow your industry knowledge
Some of the main reasons you might want to consider going for a separate product to build a client portal include better scalability, more customization options, security, and professional support. Yes, most WordPress plugins do just fine in these areas, but they might not be enough for more complex setups.
For example, SPP is a tool built for agencies that want to scale and cannot afford working with flimsy systems. It allows you to create a real, professional-looking dashboard your clients can interact with seamlessly—and more importantly, securely.
Additionally, Service Provider Pro has a white label form builder that allows you to create order forms that make the check experience simpler. Your team can even handle the entire project delivery inside SPP.co.
Last, but not least, SPP integrates with WordPress seamlessly, so you won’t have to worry that your new client portal tool doesn’t work with your website. Simply create order forms and use their unique URLs to link them up with buttons on your pricing page. Alternatively, allow anyone to create an account and send them to your service page inside the portal.
Creating a client portal is a great way to offer your clients an efficient customer service experience, and WordPress plugins are a great starting point. However, if you’re looking for something more comprehensive and secure, you can also consider using a dedicated product such as SPP. Ultimately, the choice is yours and it depends on your business model, the size of your business, and how much you want to invest in user experience and client management. WordPress plugins offer all the basic features, but consider your options thoroughly: security and scalability are worth the extra expense, especially if you don’t want to take major risks with your clients’ data.