When visitors come to your website for the first time, they’re not just looking to learn about your product. Ultimately, they’re here to decide whether choosing your business is worth their time, money, and energy.

For this reason, converting customers online requires more than just an attention-grabbing product description and a sleek homepage — your website needs to engage visitors with an excellent experience. One popular way to provide such an experience is with user accounts.

With a user account, a visitor creates a personalized profile on your website in order to tailor their experience with your web content. Accounts empower users to access exclusive offers, contribute to a community of fellow customers, reach out to customer support, and receive content recommendations relevant to them.

All of these benefits work to solidify trust with your brand and convert visitors into engaged leads. After all, they’re called “user accounts,” not “visitor accounts.”

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Adding a user account feature might be a major change to your site’s structure and functionality. Fortunately, today’s website building software makes this possible in just a few clicks. In this article, I’ll explain how to enable user accounts and profiles on six popular content management systems: CMS Hub, WordPress, Joomla, Wix, Drupal, and Shopify.

Why Create a Website With User Accounts?

Many sites can gain from providing user accounts, regardless of product or industry. If your website...

  • offers paid products and/or services for account holders
  • facilitates social or professional networking
  • facilitates e-commerce and stores users’ payment information, orders, and/or carts
  • offers exclusive content for registered users
  • hosts public user-generated content, like blog posts, video, or reviews
  • hosts private user-provided content, like cloud storage, notes, or e-journal entries
  • aims to build a community around users
  • allows reactions to content in the form of comments, ratings, and/or reviews
  • uses visitor-related information to tailor the browsing experience to individuals

...then you’ll likely need user accounts on your website.

But before you continue, consider whether it’s best for your specific site to suggest or require accounts. An account should first and foremost enhance the user experience, so make sure the benefits to the customer are worth the time and effort of signing up. No one should feel “forced” to create an account when they don’t need to.

How to Make a Website With User Accounts and Profiles

For the simplest approach to making an account-based website, choose a website builder that specializes in membership sites. See our list of the Best Membership Website Builders and Platforms for recommendations for this type of service.

If you’ve already built a website using a CMS, you can easily add user accounts, too. In most cases, the CMS handles the functionality of a membership site for you, either by itself or with an add-on. A user account tool should introduce features for registration, login, profile customization, and restricting content to only certain registrants.

CMS Hub

CMS Hub is HubSpot’s content management system. CMS Hub fully integrates with HubSpot CRM and HubSpot’s marketing, sales, service tools. With an Enterprise account, you can limit access to website pages, landing pages, and blog content by contact list. After restricting a page to selected lists, contacts on these lists will be notified via email to register.

To set up membership registration for a page in CMS Hub:

  1. Navigate to Marketing, then Website, then Website Pages or Landing Pages.
  2. Hover over the page that you want to restrict access to and click Edit.
  3. In the Settings tab, click Advanced Options.
  4. Select Private - Registration required, then choose the lists you want to register.
  5. Click Save and send email.
control audience access options for making a website with user accounts in CMS Hub

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For a full guide to managing user access on your HubSpot-powered website and blog, see our knowledge base article on membership registration with CMS Hub.

WordPress

To enable user membership on your WordPress site, a plugin is needed. There are many reputable options for WordPress website account management — here are some we recommend:

  • Memberpress is an all-in-one WordPress plugin for building and managing membership sites. It includes tools for handling payment information, setting up user forums, and tracking performance. Memberpress has also built a reputation for its strong security and customer support.
  • MemberSpace contains tools for membership websites and integrates with many website builders and CMS platforms including WordPress. With MemberSpace, administrators allow access to specific website pages based on user actions like logging in or submitting a form.
  • ARMember is a free plugin for creating a membership site on WordPress. For the (lack of) price, ARMember is a very comprehensive solution. It includes a form builder, content post scheduler, and tools for limiting page access by membership level. You can read our full review of ARMember for more info.
  • Memberful is a lightweight solution for integrated checkout and account management on WordPress. Memberful emphasizes its ease of use, allowing users to set up their service quickly and securely. Memberful does not offer members-only pages — it instead sends exclusive content through emails and Discourse forums.

They might have similar names, but be sure to consider how each plugin fits your specific needs and budget. For more WordPress plugin recommendations and some excellent examples of membership sites built with WordPress, see our guide to creating a WordPress membership site.

Joomla

To activate user accounts on your Joomla site:

  1. Select the Users tab in the left side panel, then select the User Options tab.
  2. Next to Allow User Registration, choose Yes.
  3. After allowing user registration, put a login form somewhere on your site. You can link to the form as a page module and/or as a menu item.
Joomla user options page for allowing user accounts

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You can also toggle how to confirm membership through email confirmation or administrator approval. For more detailed instructions on enabling user registration with Joomla, see Joomla’s user documentation.

Wix

Wix lets administrators activate user accounts with the Members Area feature, available with any Wix plan. With a Members Area set up on your Wix site, visitors can register and view exclusive content on member pages, and administrators can easily view and manage their site members.

Wix member list page for viewing visitors with user accounts

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This tool is designed for easy setup, and integrates with add-on applications chat, blogging, events, e-commerce, and more. Learn how to set up a Members Area on Wix’s support site.

If you want to restrict access to content without setting up a Members Area, you can set access to specific pages based on member roles or make pages exclusive to paid members only.

Drupal

Drupal lets site administrators roles for different visitors. These roles grant different permissions for viewing and creating website content. Drupal creates three roles by default:

  • anonymous user, a visitor who has not logged in
  • authenticated user, a visitor who is logged in
  • administrator, someone with control over website functionality

In Drupal core, you can also add additional roles specific for who may come to your website, and assign permissions to these roles. For example, a blog site might have a “writer” role for visitors with permission to create and publish content.

To configure who can create accounts on your Drupal site and customize the registration and cancellation processes:

  1. Open the Manage menu, then select Configuration.
  2. Select People, then Account Settings.
  3. Open the Registration and Cancellation panel to view your options.
Drupal user registration and cancellation page for making a website with user accounts

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For more complex membership site functions, Drupal relies on third-party modules. Select a well-maintained, reputable Drupal module like Membership, Drupal Commerce, and/or Rules for more hands-on control over your membership site. For guidance on installing these modules, see Drupal’s instructions.

Shopify

To enable customer accounts in Shopify:

  1. Navigate to Settings, then Checkout.
  2. Under Customer Accounts, choose to activate either optional or required accounts for customers.
  3. Click Save.

For more help editing customer account settings on your Shopify site, including how to change your site settings on a mobile device, see Shopify’s help page.

Test Your New User Accounts

After setting up user accounts on your website, be sure to test this new feature. Have yourself and others create test accounts on your website. Modify your test account profiles, modify their permissions, and check that exclusive content is actually set to exclusive. If your website is already online, consider setting it to maintenance mode while testing these changes. Temporarily hiding your site prevents any complications from new signups in this phase.

Whether you’re running an online store, building loyalty through a membership site, or providing a home for user content with a hosting service, user accounts empower your visitors to stay engaged with your premium content and features, and help you to keep track of your customer base as it continues to grow. No matter the CMS, you’re covered.

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Originally published Jun 10, 2020 7:00:00 AM, updated June 11 2020

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