There are plenty of great reasons to have a client login right within your WordPress site.
- You have complete control of the experience
- You can brand the entire experience
- You own all the data
- You can have exactly the features, functionality and information you want
How to go about it really depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. I’m going to outline the following scenarios and how to go about them:
- Client login with a shared client content
- Client login with client-specific content
- A client portal with invoicing, payments, and project tracking
Let’s discuss the basics and then layer on what’s possible with a WordPress Client Login area.
WordPress Client Login with Shared Client Content
Let’s say you have common information and resources that you’d like all clients to have access to. These could be standard forms, documents, instructions, and links to third-party services like DropBox, Drive, DocuSign, etc…
In this scenario, you just need clients to be able to log in and access content that normal users can’t. Each client doesn’t need unique content, it’s the same for everyone.
There are three components required to achieve these capabilities:
- Client user accounts
- A login capability
- Protected content
Client User Accounts
Clients can’t login if they don’t have an account, luckily WordPress can handle this for us. Out of the box WordPress has account capabilities and even though the label sounds unreleted, “subscribers” are exactly what we need.
In WordPress Subscriber accounts simply means you can login but you don’t have access to anything else (like editing pages, posts, seeing other users, etc…)
Simply create your client accounts by going to Users > Add New and select subscriber for the user role.
Once the client has an account they need to login. While you could send them to the default WordPress login, it’s not a very intuitive or branded experience. I find it’s better to have a login link on your website itself, which can convey a sense of prestige — you have your own client portal.
Luckily there are good solutions for this! We recommend the Ajax Login and Registration Modal plugin.
This will allow you to easily add a login pop-up to your website so your clients have no trouble getting access to the client area. Additionally, you can configure it to automatically redirect your clients to the appropriate page after login.
Once installed, we can create a login link through a custom link in the WordPress menu by going to Appearance > Menus
First turn on the ability to add classes to links by going to Screen Options:
Then let’s add a custom link with the URL of ‘#’ and the Link Text of ‘Login’
Finally click to expand the new custom link by clicking the arrow to the right and add the following to the CSS Classes field:
That’s it! Now once someone clicks that link, it will pull up a fancy login modal like so:
At this stage clients can login, but without protected content there isn’t much value in doing so.
We want content that only clients can access.
For this we recommend the simple and free plugin Content Control.
Once installed, you can restrict access to any pages or posts on your site to specific user roles.
This is done by going to Settings > Content Control and creating rules by clicking “Add a Restriction”
In our case, I’m just going to create a restriction for a specific page called “Client Instructions” requiring that you must be a subscriber to see it.
Now we can circle back to the Ajax Login and Registration plugin and configure it to redirect our clients to this page after logging in.
This is done by going to Settings > Login / Register modal clicking on “Actions / Redirects”
Click “Add new rule” next to “Redirect to” and then set a role match of “Subscriber” and redirect to a “Page” and the page we’ve selected.
And we’re done! Your clients can now click on your login link to get the login form. Once logged in they’ll be redirected to your client dashboard and have access to all your client resources.
Now that we have the most basic implementation, let’s look at a slightly more robust example where clients have a page unique to them!
WordPress client login with client-specific content
In this example we want the same experience outlined before, only each client will have content unique to them. We’ll start with two of the same essentials:
- Client accounts are WordPress users with the role “subscriber”
- WP Ajax Login will be used for easy logins from the frontend of our website
For this situation, we’ll need to use a different plugin for restricting content. Content Control can restrict content to specific user roles, but not specific users. Instead, we’ll use WP Private Content Plus.
WP Private Content Plus allows you to add private content for each user and because you don’t have to create a separate WordPress page each time – it keeps your admin clean and easy to use.
To set this up we’ll:
- Create a global “private page”
- Configure WP Login to redirect users to this private page
- Add custom private content for each of our clients
Create our private page
WP Private Content plus works by creating a single page to use as a template for all user’s private content. Don’t worry, clients will only see their own private content, but we do need a single page to house them under.
To do this we’ll go to Pages > Add New in WordPress and create a page called “Client Dashboard.”
On this page we just need to add a shortcode of [wppcp_private_page], this can be done as a block or through the standard WordPress editor.
Configure WP Login to redirect users to the private page
Now that we’ve created the private page, we can go back to AJAX Login and Registration and setup a redirect for subscribers, pointing to our new page.
Create the private content for individual clients
The last step is creating content specific to our clients. This is done by going to Private Content Settings > Private User Page.
You’ll see here we can select any user, and once selected we have space to add content specifically for them.
Now when a user logs in they will be redirect to a page that will look up to see if they have any content unique to them and display it!
Now let’s look at a more robust solution where you have more than static content for your clients.
WordPress client portal with invoicing, payments, and project tracking
A huge advantage of WordPress is the vast ecosystem of tools that you can pull together into one integrated solution. When it comes to client logins, there are lots of capabilities you might need including:
- Project tracking
- Invoicing and payments
- Document management
There are two ways you could go about this:
- Install the plugins and sign-up for the services you need and link or integrate them with the client pages you’ve created from the previous section
- Use a client dashboard solution that integrates with the plugins and features you need.
For the first approach, you could install plugins like Sprout Invoices, WordPress Download Manager, and Project Panorama – then use the appropriate blocks and shortcodes on your users private pages to display the content and resources specific to them.
Alternatively, you can provide a more tailored experience by using a tool like Project Panorama as the client dashboard. With the Sprout Invoices integration, project messaging and built-in document management capabilities, you have an all in one solution that works well together out of the box.
Here is what Panorama looks like once logged in:
As you can see clients can immediately see their branded portal with a list of their projects, tasks assigned to them, invoice history, etc…
Wrapping it up
Your specific needs for a WordPress client login will dictate which approach is the best fit. You might need something incredibly simple, like a shared private page with easy login access.
Alternatively, you might need something a bit more tailored, like content specific to each client. Some businesses will find they need a more comprehensive and integrated solution where all your business software runs in a single place and a tool like Panorama can do the job.