When it comes to having an active or engaging website, you need more than just regular content if you want to get your visitors returning time after time.
Getting your visitors to actively engage, whether by commenting on existing content or submitting their own posts to your site is a great way of building a community site that’ll bring back visitors time after time.
What is frontend publishing?
Some great examples of this would be:
- A community site for a hobby or sport where members wish to contribute their own articles
- A local community where small businesses may wish to submit an article about what their business does
- An event or conference where speakers will submit papers on the talks they’ll be doing or drip-feeding information pre or post-conference
- A business networking site – where members can pay to submit a post about their product or service to other members
- Allow users to create products in your WooCommerce store to sell (ideal if you pair it with a multi-vendor plugin)
- You are a blogger and want other guest bloggers to submit posts to your site
Maybe you already have a website that has the above needs? Allowing people to create content for you instead of yourself is a great time-saver and better still, saves you copying and pasting text from a Word doc into WordPress!
WordPress itself does have a native interface for allowing commenting and basic user registration. It is activated as simple as turning on an option in the WordPress dashboard.
However, allowing users to register with a specific set of profile features or going further, and allowing users to submit their own posts to your site requires a third-party plugin.
Furthermore, if you wish to lock down content to members only or charge for a subscription (or post submission) then you’ll need some third-party tools to manage that for you.
This is where our WP User Frontend Pro review comes in! It offers all of the above with just one plugin – from user registration, management and membership to the submission of guest posts, publishing and payment for them (if needed!) – with this plugin you can run a full community site without anything else if you wish.
WP User Frontend Pro is no newcomer to the WordPress Plugin market. It was actually launched in 2011 and has over 30,000 active installations at present.
It has been developed by the team at weDevs in Dhaka, Bangladesh. weDevs themselves comprise over 80 team members and have over 100,000 customers – so you are in safe hands when it comes to technical support and further updates to the product.
What does it do?
In a nutshell, it manages the entire frontend of WordPress when it comes to users. We’re talking about users registering for accounts, subscribing, submitting their own content or locking down content to subscribers/members only.
It also has some great backend functionality too for managing users, processing subscriptions and managing guest/member posts with or without charging if needed.
Who is it for?
It is for anyone that wants to have professional user registration management, tied with a possible membership website and/or allow users to submit their own content to the site.
There are literally hundreds of different cases out there where a plugin like this would be a perfect match for websites – any that require content kept to members only or requiring external authors to submit content would be a perfect match.
You can just use one or both parts of the plugin too – perhaps you just want an option to allow guest bloggers to send you their latest posts – then you can allow them to register an account and let them submit articles for you to approve.
On the other hand, you can run a membership site allowing people to register and pay a subscription fee to read your premium content
Or, you can combine both and have a site where members can meet each other via the user directory, submit their own content and protect it all so only members can see it! The options are pretty endless!
Installing the plugin
The free version of the plugin can be easily installed (and is required for the premium version too) from WordPress.org or via ‘Plugins > Add New‘ in your WordPress dashboard.
Once you have purchased the premium version of the plugin, you need to download it from the wpDevs website.
As soon as you have activated the plugin, it starts up a short helpful wizard to get you started. Let’s walk through it.
1. First, select Let’s Go to proceed – if you choose ‘Not right now’ you are taken back to the WordPress dashboard.
2. On the next screen, you are presented with several options to choose from:
- Enable Payments – This adds three new pages to your website ‘Payment‘ and ‘Order Received‘ and a ‘Thank You‘ page.
- Install WPUF Pages – This adds six new pages to your website ‘Account‘, ‘Dashboard‘, ‘Edit‘, ‘Login‘, ‘Registration‘, ‘Subscription‘ and a form called ‘Sample Form‘ in the plugin dashboard.
- Share Essentials – As highlighted below, this just sends back some simple technical information to weDevs – this helps them in getting an idea what sort of environment their plugin is being used in and is useful for further development cycles. You can opt-out of this by unchecking the tickbox before proceeding.
Click ‘Continue‘ to proceed – in this example we’re leaving all options ticked.
3. After a moment, the wizard finishes and we’re presented with this screen.
From here we are taken to the dashboard and a welcome screen or can choose to go directly into the plugin settings screen.
The plugin is now installed and has the default settings installed.
4. From here you can create your first form or read the built-in detailed help guide.
WP User Frontend Pro has a huge amount of features for one plugin – saving you having to install multiple plugins to achieve the same feature set, we’ll cover the following areas (click on a section to jump to it):
Frontend Posting is the main part of the plugin and naturally, it has a ton of features for you!
Post Form Builder
The drag and drop easy to use form builder allows you to quickly create post submission forms for your users to fill out with whatever format you want your posts to appear as – (blog post, custom post type, etc).
As you see, there are many form field types to choose from (34) that you can include in the form you are creating.
Just drag the field type across to the design area on the left to add a new field.
Each field has unique settings which you can adjust by clicking on the field and clicking edit. Below we have clicked on the ‘Featured Image‘ field and you can see the options available to change on the right.
After you have created your form and saved it, you can click on a preview button which will show you what it looks like on your website.
Post Form Builder Settings
You can also set a whole host of options for your Post Form too, this include:
- Post Settings – What type of post it is (useful if you have Custom Post Types defined on your site), default post status, category, where to send a user after the post form has been submitted, etc
- Edit Settings – Allow users to edit their existing posts they have previously submitted
- Submission Restriction – Enable unregistered users to submit posts or by role only, plus limit entries or schedule when posts are allowed to be submitted
- Payment Settings – Enable payment per submission and how much per post
- Display Settings – Basic display settings including five different theme styles
- Post Expiration – Whether you want the user-submitted posts to expire after a certain length of time
After you have finished with the form creator and all the settings you want, you can use a shortcode for the form to place it anywhere on your website.
Registration & Profile Builder
The registration and profile builder allows you to carry out several options:
- Create a unique user registration page for your site
- Create a user profile page for registered users to update their profiles
- Create a ‘My Account’ dashboard for registered users to log in to
- Create a themed login page for your users that matches your site
Registration Form Editor
The Registration Form Editor allows you to choose 38 different field types for users to fill in when they register with you.
As a tip, we’d suggest only picking a few fields so that users don’t feel it is too overwhelmed just to register on your site – when they are registered with you, you can then direct them to a separate form to fill out the rest of their profile details that you’d like to capture and display in the member directory.
Just like the Frontend Form editor, you can pick detailed settings for each form field you wish to use too, like in this instance the ‘username’ field which even allows you to input word restrictions.
After saving your form you can click on the preview button to take a look at your new form.
Registration Form Settings
Again, you can choose from a host of different settings for your registration form. These include:
- General – Here you can pick the User Role type new users will be allocated and if new users require approval before they can use the site
- Notification – You can choose to send out a notification to the user who just registered and also get them to verify their email at this stage – you can also send out an admin notification of new users that have registered too
- Display Settings – The display style lets you choose between three preset styles and label positions
- Registration – You can choose a page that users will be redirected to after submitting the registration form
- Profile Update – If this form is used by users just for updating their profile and not new registration then you can set where they should be redirected after submitting the form
After you have completed your registration or profile update page (we suggest a form for each) you can then embed the form on any page on your website with a shortcode that looks like this:
[wpuf_profile type="registration" id="27"]
When a new user visits your site, they’ll see this registration page when directed to it
WP User Frontend Pro not only allows a pay-per-post model but also a subscription model which works in two ways:
- Charge a subscription fee for X amount of posts per month from contributors
- Charge a subscription fee for members to read content which is ‘content-locked’ to only them
You can use either of the above methods or both if you prefer – all depending on the type of site you are running.
Depending on the sort of subscription service you decide on, you can choose between billing cycles of days, weeks, months or years (or a one-off period of time) and you can also set the number of billing cycles (for example if you wanted to split the cost over 12 months.
One other great feature is the ability to allow users a free trial of your subscription service too – you can again set the time period to days, weeks, months or years.
You can create multiple subscriptions via the Subscriptions section in WP User Frontend Pro, in the first screenshot we saw how you can create different payment settings – but you can also set pre-defined posting limits and access to protected content this way too.
Below we see the different limits you can set for a subscription that allows end-users to submit posts to your site.
You could use this to allow businesses to post their news or sales several times a month to your community site, plus you can set if the posts will expire after a pre-determined amount of time too.
After you have added your subscription you can see it easily in the dashboard and add another if you wish.
Another section in the dashboard is ‘Coupons’ – useful for promotions or perhaps offering friends or family.
There are plenty of options, you can offer either a fixed amount or percentage off a subscription and also limit the usage and start/end dates too. Additionally, you can limit the coupon to a set of email addresses.
After we have published a subscription we can visit the example ‘Subscription’ page the plugin installed and we are presented with a signup box
If we click it, it takes us through to the payment page (you would need to log in at this stage or register, but we are already logged in).
Here we can see the payment gateways we’ve configured (more on those shortly) – there is also the option to put the coupon code in, as created earlier.
When a user has signed up for a subscription you can see the transaction in the WP User Frontend > Transactions screen. Here you can approve the transaction (if set to manual) and check out other details
Once you have set up your subscription or membership levels you can then set your content to be restricted on a per page or post basis.
There are three types of restrictions available:
1. Everyone – this is basically no restriction for anyone on your site – whether they are logged in or not.
2. User Roles – this allows you to set only logged-in users with a certain user role type. This is ideal for allowing member-only content if you don’t wish to charge for it, but want users to be logged in to view it.
3. Subscription Users Only – you can set certain content to be only available to users with a paid subscription. Useful for showing information pages to those that wish to submit content or premium content to paying subscribers.
WP User Frontend Pro: User pages
Now we’ve got a registration form, submit post form and a subscription created we can see from an end-user what it would look like:
First, the registration page we setup.
After the user has registered and activated their account, their dashboard would look like this:
If this was a user who had submitted a post of their own, they could click on ‘Posts’ and they’ll see the posts they have submitted, here is our example:
So there you have it, the basic framework of your upcoming community site!
There are an extra 20 modules that you can activate to add additional features to your website, these include:
- Comments Manager – Let users manage comments on their own posts that they have submitted
- Campaign Monitor – Enables the third-party service Campaign Monitor to integrate into your forms
- GetResponse – Enables the third-party service GetResponse to integrate into your forms
- Private Messaging – Allow users to private message between each other and between the admins and users
- User Analytics – This addon allows the collection of important data such as IP address, country, timezone, browser and operating system information when a user submits a post to your website
- Reports – Get data and insights on user registrations, subscriptions, transactions and posts
- MailPoet 3 – Pass registration data such as user email addresses directly to this third-party email service
- Social Login & Registration – Allow users to register and login on your website via Facebook, Twitter, Google or LinkedIn
- ConvertKit – Pass user data to this popular third-party email marketing service
- HTML Email Templates – Spruce up your outgoing emails from your website with these HTML email templates
- BuddyPress Profile – Already run BuddyPress on your website? Integrate the BuddyPress fields into your forms for a slick integration
- Stripe Payments – Take payments for your subscriptions and one-off posts with this extremely popular payment gateway
- MailPoet – If you are using the older version of MailPoet for email then this module will allow integration for you to send user data to it
- QR Code Generator – Allows subscribers to generate a QR code for each post with six different fields available
- User Activity – This module allows admins and registered users to see what activity is happening on the site – ideal for engagement.
- SMS Notification – With this module, you can receive an SMS each time a user submits a post to your site
- Zapier – Connect to this incredible third-party service and literally send your data to thousands of other services! Ideal for limitless integrations!
- User Directory – This module lets you have a full browsable user directory – which can be viewed by guests or registered users. Using thing can really bring a community together
- Paid Membership Pro Integration – You can hook your site into the popular Paid Membership Pro plugin with this module, allowing extra features including more payment gateways
- MailChimp – If you use this email marketing provider then this module will let you send your user data directly to it to help build up your email list
Activating a module is as easy as switching a toggle – there are no extra plugins to install.
The settings for that module are then found in the plugin settings area for you to fully configure for your site.
The plugin comes with plenty of options for you to choose from within various areas (such as the registration and post form creators) but it also has a General Settings section accessed via WP User Frontend > Settings.
The sections available actually increase depending on which modules you have enabled, but in our example, we have the following:
- General Options – In here you can list your Google reCAPTCHA and other API keys
- Frontend Posting – This allows you to set the default post owner and image sizes for posts
- Dashboard – Options such as allowing users to edit their own posts, display their bio is controlled here
- My Account – This toggles on/off the different sub-menus in this area for the end-users
- Login / Registration – You can select default user roles here and which pages control which functions
- Payments – In here you can configure your PayPal and/or Stripe details amongst other payment gateways
- E-Mails – All of the default emails the site sends out (user registration, etc) can be edited in here
- Privacy Options –
- Social Login – If you have this module turned on, then you can easily add in all the social media network API keys and settings in one place
- User Directory – This allows you to control how the user directory layout is shown and in what detail
- Invoices – This plugin even sends invoices out to users that purchase a subscription, you can configure all the items in your invoices from here
- Tax – Another nice feature of this plugin is allowing multiple tax rates depending on the state/country your user is purchasing from
- Content Filtering – This allows you to stop certain words being used in user posts (in the title and/or the post body) – great if you don’t want certain words using in posts!
There is one thing that is a common occurrence in this plugin – that is flexibility and options to do anything. You can really tailor the plugin to your exact needs.
Free vs Premium
As with many plugins out there, WP User Frontend comes with a free version that you can install on your site straight away and get to grips with – it’ll provide the basic functionality for you to get started and see if this plugin is going to work for you – it is something we recommend everyone tries before purchasing any plugin if possible!
The free version of the plugin will allow to even offer standard PayPal payments without upgrading and using their form templates with some edits, you can have guest posting too with the post-approval system.
Access to the extra 20 modules that we described are only available if you upgrade to the premium plugin and it is tiered depending on your needs.
You can try the free version of the plugin until you get to the stage where you want to start charging clients via Stripe or perhaps need more advanced control of the features on your site. Upgrading is very easy, just purchase and install the Premium version alongside the free version – all further options are then automatically unlocked.
Pricing for WP User Frontend Pro runs from $49 to $159 per year, depending on the number of extra options you require.
You can start with the personal option and if you need to upgrade to the next tier you can easily pay the difference between the two of them by contacting the support team.
For most people, we’d recommend the Professional tier as that comes with the Stripe plugin and 13 of the 20 extra modules – which should cover the majority of websites out there.
Not all sites will require every option, so think carefully about which one you may need. One thing they all come with is their ticket-based support which is useful when integrating the plugin to your site.
Additionally, all purchases come with a 14-days money-back guarantee (no hassle or stress) – so you can feel confident in your purchase if it doesn’t work out for you.
This is a mature plugin, that was first released in 2011 and has steadily had more and more improvements and features added to it over time. The team behind it are very receptive to further requests and ideas and have a portfolio of other mature plugins too – some that integrate perfectly with this one (such as their Dokan Multivendor eCommerce plugin)
It is rare to come across a plugin that simply /does everything/ but this plugin has so many options and features with the additional modules that you can really tailor it perfectly towards your site requirements, whatever that may be.
One thing to note is this plugin works with every theme too – you can also use the inbuilt styling options to make sure it fits exactly into your site look and feel, this is great as creating a site that all ‘fits together’ leads to better user experience and therefore better user engagement.
Have you used this plugin or think it would suit your type of website? Let us know in the comments!