If you own a small business or you’re a solo freelancer, you’re acutely aware of how important customer relationships are. You’ve probably devoted countless hours of marketing and strategy to drawing people in and converting them to customers. And it’s hard to do that without a way for them to interact with you.
That’s where client portals come in.
There’s a reason WordPress is one of the most popular website builders out there: it’s almost infinitely customizable, with plugins for anything you can imagine, including client interactions. Everything from invoicing to live chat to project management can be handled by the array of plugins available through WordPress.
The best plugins work right out of the box, allowing you to install it easily to improve the efficiency of your site and the customer’s experience in communicating with you. If your business involves interacting with people at all, you can benefit from stepping up your game here.
I’ll start by defining just what a client portal is, then go into some of the best plugins to get you started.
What is a Client Portal?
A client portal is the part of your website where a user can log in and access information unique to them. Think of a Netflix or Amazon account, or an email client. Logging into the client portal for that website allows you to manage your account, change your information and preferences, send messages, and more.
In short, client portals are a way for customers to keep track of their information and customize their profiles. They also let business owners communicate with customers, and keep track of who’s using their site.
We’ve all had frustrating experiences with laggy or inoperative client portals. Don’t let that be your site! For a lot of businesses, the online portal is the main way their customer base interacts with them and the first place they go to get information. You want this to be as easy for them as possible.
WordPress Client Portals – The Plugins You Need
Client interaction is multi-faceted, and the plugins I cover here will reflect that. They’ll include options to help you with scheduling meetings, sending invoices, CRM management, and more.
Project Panorama – Project Management
Say you’re a marketing firm, and a customer has hired you to create a campaign. Project Panorama lets the client stay updated on the progress of their project, displaying everything in sleek, visually-appealing graphical layouts.
Project Panorama’s WordPress client dashboard shows different phases of the project, from discovery to onboarding to design, as color-coded percentage layouts. Users can easily track their progress toward important milestones with checklists and progress bars. You can even integrate other WordPress plugins to customize your client portal setup.
Features include delay tracking, user management, messaging, front-end editing, and a host of others. Each user has their own unique dashboard, customized to their needs, so they see only what’s relevant to them and their goals. They can track budgets, timelines, goals, and tasks with this plugin, and contact you if they need help.
Project Panorama comes in various subscription levels, depending on the size of the business and their budget. There’s also a free version called Project Panorama Lite.
Calendly – Meeting and Interview Scheduler
If you’re hiring staff or freelancers for your small business, or just need to keep better track of what’s going on in your life, Calendly is a great plugin to consider. It makes scheduling meetings and interviews a breeze by emailing candidates and letting them choose a time that works best for them. Users input their availability, so the system never schedules a conflict.
Calendly integrates with your calendar as well, adding events or meetings the minute they’re created, with reminders so you won’t forget. It gives the user the flexibility of scheduling interviews over the phone, via video call, or in person. It even accounts for different time zones.
A free basic version of this app is available for download, or you can sign up for premium and pro level monthly subscription plans.
WooCommerce – Manage Orders, Subscriptions, and Memberships
WooCommerce is an open source storefront plugin for WordPress that gives you everything you need to get started selling your products online. It offers configurable shipping options, secure online payment, and more. The ability to add features onto what you get out of the box makes this a highly functional plugin. You don’t have to keep anything you don’t want or can’t use in your digital storefront.
In fact, makers of the app say there are more than 400 extensions for WooCommerce. And documentation on the software is provided so anyone who wants to and has the knowhow, can make the changes they want. You can embed anything on any page from products to checkout, create your own blog to boost your store’s visibility, and manage your email list. All from one plugin.
This plugin is free to download, but themes and extensions can be an additional charge.
Sprout Invoices – Invoicing and Payments
This hugely popular invoice plugin works with not only WordPress sites, but other plugins as well, like WooCommerce listed above. Sprout Invoices lets you create eye-catching invoices in a matter of minutes for your clients, and even has a database of knowledge for people new to their interface to help guide them through the process.
Sprout Invoices works with PayPal’s WordPress plugin in an effort to streamline the process of submitting invoices and getting payment back, and who couldn’t use that? It also works with other major payment processors like Stripe, Authorize.net, Square, 2Checkout, eWay, and NMI.
Users have the option of pre-defining line items on their invoices, and the plugin creates custom forms for each client based on their needs. No more templates with blank spaces or unused lines! The developers of this plugin also go out of their way to make sure it meets the language requirements of a wide variety of countries for those who do business globally. There’s also multi-currency support.
This plugin also has various form integration options depending on your needs. Gravity Forms, for example, streamlines the process of estimate and invoice submissions. You can set up automated workflows for submitting customized invoices and estimates. Sprout’s Gravity Flow integration automates over 30 processes, including feedback loops and notifications.
WordPress Download Manager – Document Management
If you’re offering any kind of download through your website, you’ll want something to track and manage those downloads with. Enter WordPress Download Manager. With this plugin, you can control the speed of downloads from your site, set limits on how many times a document can be downloaded, and more.
If you’re selling digital products like form templates, letter art, or website templates, you can use this to completely manage your digital download storefront. Keep track of how much you’re selling, how many times a particular product was downloaded, and make sure checkout for your customers is seamless and stress-free.
This plugin’s interface makes adding a new download to your site as easy as creating a blog post, with a drag-and-drop interface for file uploads. It also integrates with Google Drive, Dropbox, Box.com, and OneDrive for document cloud storage so you’ve always got backups. Want to keep bots from accessing your downloads? Download Manager lets you enable IP protection, password protect your files, and use CAPTCHA verification.
Quick and Easy FAQs – Answer Common Questions
This plugin does what it says on the tin: it allows a quick, easy way for business owners to add a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section to their website. It uses custom post type and displays the questions and answers with shortcodes later on. You can display the Q and As in toggle or accordion style for a little bit of interactivity that can give your site a more polished feel.
MemberPress – Memberships and Private Pages
The MemberPress plugin allows business owners to set up private pages only certain customers can access. Especially useful for freelance digital creators, it instantly lets you charge users to get your content and set up subscription plans for ongoing access. The plugin’s interface gives you an easy way to manage those users, granting and revoking access as you see fit. You can also tailor what users have access to based on their membership level.
MemberPress integrates with any WordPress site, and also works with other plugins like MailChimp, PayPal, Stripe, and Convertkit. This is a paid plugin, with three different tier levels, so be sure to choose the one that works best with your budget if you decide to make it a part of your site.
More to Explore
While the above are some of the best WordPress client portal plugins available, there are even more useful ones to explore that can help handle other facets of your business. It’s a good idea to sit down and see what aspects of your business you can run by yourself, and which could benefit from the ease and automation these plugins can provide.
Zero BS CRM, for example, can help you manage your customer relationships more effectively to build your business. CBX accounting and Bookkeeping gives small business owners a way to track finances and expenses right in WordPress. Even if you aren’t strapped for time, everyone could stand to build a bit more efficiency into their business model.
Pick yours, and customize to your heart’s content.