How to create and manage private pages in WordPress

Private pages in WordPress allows you to create pages that only certain type of users can access them. Now generally, when we create content in WordPress is with the goal to share something with our audience. The larger the audience the better, right? So why would we want to make a WordPress private page and restrict the access and limit the number of people that will be able to see it. Actually, there are number of situations where this might be useful and we are going to look into some of them and how to approach them.

The actual implementation of the WordPress private posts or the content restriction is a bit tricky. There are many different options in WordPress, and each one comes with its ideal use case, pros, and cons.

Therefore, today we look into different methods to use WordPress to restrict content to specific users. From simple WordPress password protected pages to WordPress membership sites. Here are our main topics:

  • When private pages are needed
  • How to create private pages in WordPress
  • Restrict access to pages based on user roles
  • Restrict access to pages based on paid membership
  • Managing users based on content visibility

In summary, our goal today is to understand how and why we can use WordPress private pages and restrict content. Then we go over different methods of implementing your WordPress private posts, pages, blogs, and entire sites. And finally, we find out interesting insights we can gather from our premium content users.

Let’s get started!

wordpress private page

When private pages are needed

There are definitely a few types of use cases for private pages. And the use case defines which solution is going to work in your case.

For instance, your private pages may be used for internal communication with your team. Maybe you want to have private pages that only editors or contributors can see. In these cases, the defining factor of the content restriction is the user role. Hence, many users may be able to see the same content, and some automation may come in handy.

Often, we need to show a preview of some content to our customers. Maybe there’s a photo shoot that needs to be approved. Or even a content piece that you need to show them. In this case, the restriction is much tougher. That’s because each user will only have access to their own content. In this case, a user-based restriction or a password-based restriction may be your best call.

And we can’t forget the premium content. But even in that scenario, there are a few nuances. For example, a membership site is different from an online course. And both are different from selling digital content such as eBooks, songs, or a download file.

That’s just a handful of examples, but there’s certainly more use cases. But let’s see now how to implement them in your site.

How to create private pages in WordPress

First, the most basic example. If you want to create WordPress private pages for registered users or access with passwords, this can be done with no plugins. WordPress offers the private pages and password protected pages.

Creating password protect page in WordPress

The passwords can be used for simple content locks, and usually works if you have to analyze the access to this content on a case by case basis. Therefore, you create password protected pages and only users (registered or not) who really must see these private pages are going to see them.
Creating a WordPress private page using password protection

 

Creating private page in WordPress

On the other hand, WordPress also has private pages. These pages are in essence hidden from regular users. While the password protected pages still show up on post lists, WordPress private pages don’t. Even if users have the link to the protected page they won’t be able to see it.
Create private pages in WordPress

 

Private pages can only be seen by editors and administrators. It’s possible to change this behavior and authorize other specific user roles, though. For instance, you could use a plugin for that.

But the truth is, once you create private pages, they won’t be seen by your visitors.

Restrict access to pages based on user roles

Although restricted pages can be used for content lock based on user roles, this is not a very practical solution. As they are intended for admin use only, often they are set to be hidden in your posts lists, and they can’t be used as teasers. Therefore, unless your users actually log in, they won’t know about the existence of these pages.

For that, you can use a different plugin such as the Ultimate Member. This plugin creates a membership section in your WordPress site. Hence, you automatically have the content lock aspect, without the hassle of modifying the WordPress protected pages.
The Ultimate Member plugin for WordPress protected pages and memberships

Once you install and activate it, this nice little box is shown below your content section:
Add new page for Ultimate Member protection

Then, once you use it, this content is going to work like your WordPress private pages, but better. The Ultimate Member plugin allows different content level access, as well as teasers. Therefore, it’s a quick way to lock down content, and still, peak your users’ interest. It’s also possible to lock down entire categories. You can do that in the quick edit, or in the category edit screen.
Using the Ultimate Member plugin for category lockdown

 

Restrict access to pages based on paid memberships

We can take it to the next level, by creating WordPress private pages in form of a membership site. With memberships, we can have different plans and access levels, and it’s even easier to control your content access.

For this purpose, we use the Paid Memberships Pro plugin. It’s a quick alternative to the Ultimate member plugin, and it is a free option for WordPress memberships.
Paid Memberships Pro for WordPress private pages creation

First, we can create different membership levels. You can do this at WordPress Dashboard > Memberships > Membership Levels. Let’s add a Hobby (free), a Basic and a Gold membership just so we can see how it works.
Different membership levels for private content

There are many options regarding your memberships, such as adding trial periods, different billing cycles, setup fees. Just to make things easier we created 3 plans and that’s it. Then you create the membership pages (or let PMP create them for you) and set up the billing details.

Once this is done you are ready to use your Membership site and restrict content access.

Similar to the Ultimate Member options, now when you create posts and pages you can see the membership field:
Add new page for Paid Memberships Pro content protection

The main difference here is that you can allow different access levels depending on your user’s membership plan.

Managing users based on content visibility

The Users Insights plugin can be used to track down users and their behaviors. Therefore, in addition to creating your WordPress private pages and membership section you actually understand your user base. It’s possible to filter users based on membership status, login activity, the number of visits. In addition, it’s possible to combine different filters from different plugins to gather a broader view of your audience.

See who can access certain private pages

Often, we might need to see what users can access what pages. If we know what type of members or users roles have access to certain page, we can use this to create Users Insights filters that will show us exactly the users that have access to that specific page. We touched on some of these aspects in our guide on How to create and manage membership website with WordPress.

For instance, you can filter all users based on their membership level.

Filter WordPress members based on membership levels

The same rule applies for negation filters. Therefore, if you have a sale in your premium plans, for example, you could filter all users who don’t have them.
Filter members based on membership levels they do not have

 

Then we can combine the user filters with location data. To better understand our audience, we could check how many active users we have in the US, for instance.
Active members from the United States

Speaking of the membership status, we could use a similar filter and try to recover our inactive users. This is useful if you know the main reasons for cancelling, and if you have fixed them.
Users with membership cancelled

As long as we have other plugins, we get a much better understanding of our audience. For instance, you can find out which niches or occupations your memberships are good for.  This is incredibly useful for targeted marketing campaigns. You can export these user lists to get in touch with them via MailChimp, for instance.
Export users based on their membership level and occupation

 

Conclusion

Today we saw many paths you can go to create WordPress private pages. We went through the details of each approach, their pros, and cons. Additionally, we checked how you can use other plugins, such as Users Insights, for a better membership site management.

We hope you enjoyed and see you again next time!