WordPress plugin comparison: User Meta Pro vs. WP-Members

December 27th, 2012 by Gage Pacifera

I recently built a couple of sites with a similar set of requirements related to user management. Those features included:

  • Restricted access to certain pages (or entire site) based on user privileges
  • User sign-up form
  • Registrations must be approved by site administrators
  • Administrators should get notifications of new signups

I looked at dozens of options for handling these requirements and couldn’t find any single plugin that would do it all. I ended up using WordPress Access Control for the role-specific page access and fortunately that worked pretty well. It was easy to use and worked reliably, my only beef with it is that it doesn’t allow you to restrict a menu to a particular role (only members or non-members) like you can for individual pages.

For the user management piece, I found two plugins that looked like they might fit the bill: User Meta Pro and WP-Members. I decided to try one out for each of the two sites and compare them. Below are my thoughts on each.



  • simple, easy-to-use UI
  • pluggable functions
  • handles basic members-only page restriction
  • collects custom fields (such as address, phone, etc.)


  • content restriction only goes as far as member/non-member (rather than role-specific)
  • restricted archive pages still show excerpt content (unless you specifically add the more tag in the post content)

ss-wp-members2If you’re just looking for a basic user registration plugin, I’d recommend this one. It’s pretty easy to use and worked well for me. Many of the functions are pluggable, meaning that to edit HTML output and form functionality you can do so in external files that won’t be overwritten with the next plugin update. The pluggability isn’t great (you have to run PHP preg replaces to swap output, for example) but at least it’s possible.


User Meta Pro


  • highly configurable options
  • role-specific email notifications
  • tons of redirect and form options
  • allows for user registration/login with email address only (eliminates need for username)
  • collects custom fields (such as address, phone, etc.)


  • the variety of admin options can be a bit overwhelming
  • not able to extend the plugin functionality
  • will probably require some modification of plugin files to get the UI like you want it

ss-user-meta-pro-1I bought the pro version of this plugin from the developer’s site. A couple of the things that won me over with this one are the ample documentation and active user forum. It looked complicated (and is), but I figured with all of the online support it would probably be manageable.

ss-user-meta-pro-2There are all sorts of configuration options including options for redirecting users in various circumstances (not logged in, after log in, depending on role, etc.), role-specific email notifications, captcha, etc. I was disappointed in the options for working with UI elements, though. I had to hack the plugin to make several UI changes, like for rewording some of the user-facing alerts and notifications. In this plugin it was significantly harder to make those kinds of changes than in WP-Members. I also would have liked to style up the validation errors, but that proved very difficult and in the end I abandoned the idea.

The Verdict:

Both fulfilled the requirements on my list, but in general I’d say WP-Members wins over User Meta Pro unless you need some of the advanced features that WP-Members lacks.

Posted in Web Development, WordPress

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