8 Best WordPress Community Plugins in 2023 (Compared)

Last Updated on September 11, 2023 by Leave a Comment

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First Pick

MemberPress

Pricing: $179.50 per year
Standout Features: Powerful Membership Plugin, Premium Community Forums, Built-In Reporting Analytics

Visit MemberPressRead Overview
Second Pick

Paid Memberships Pro

Pricing: $247 per year
Standout Features: Unlimited Membership Levels, Front-End User Profile, Built-In Payment Gateways

Visit Paid Memberships ProRead Overview
Third Pick

ProfileGrid

Pricing: $79.00 per year
Standout Features: Custom User Profiles, Follow Users Feature, User Group Functionality

Visit ProfileGridRead Overview
Blog / WordPress / 8 Best WordPress Community Plugins in 2023 (Compared)

Community plugins are great tools for fostering online communities on your WordPress website. They are great for those that want to include membership management, social networking, forums, and other features to enhance user interaction on their website.

In this post, we’ll look at the best community plugins for WordPress, so you can quickly build a community on your next website!

What are Community Plugins for WordPress?

Community plugins are WordPress plugins that add functionality to your site, allowing users to communicate and interact with you or each other in various ways. For example, you could use a community plugin to add a forum to you where users can upvote comments and earn points. Or you can have a localized social networking experience for users with their own profile pages and more.

There are many types of plugins that one could use to build communities, including:

With the right plugin(s), you can build an online community on your website in pretty much any way you want. You can even make your community more exclusive by offering paid memberships to access premium content.

WordPress can already post comments on pages or posts, which is a good start. But if you want a community website, you’ll need additional features from community plugins.

The Best Community Plugins for WordPress

Let’s explore the best community plugins for WordPress that can help you build and manage online communities.

1. MemberPress

MemberPress

MemberPress is a powerful membership plugin with built-in features for building an online community for your site. It integrates seamlessly with bbPress and allows you to add premium community forums to your site. You can even offer VIP community access for an extra cost.

With access to analytics and reports, you can use the data you receive from user engagement as a great marketing tool to grow your business.

Key Features for MemberPress:

  • Simple membership setup wizard
  • Content dripping and access control
  • Affiliate program integration
  • Content Restriction for members only access
  • Built-in reporting and analytics
  • Course Creator
  • Seamless integration with Divi

MemberPress add new group page

You can add a members-only area to your site that allows you to share restricted content with community members. This is a great place to add any exclusive (or paid) content you only want the community to have access to. You could even make your community forum exclusive as well.

The MemberPress Divi Add-On integration benefits Divi users by allowing them to restrict modules, rows, sections, or pages within Divi using the MemberPress tab in the Visual Builder.

Best For:

MemberPress is best for businesses and websites that want to create and manage memberships and subscriptions for monetization.

Pricing: MemberPress pricing starts at $179.50 per year for the Basic plan

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2. Paid Memberships Pro

Paid Membership Pro Logo Banner

Paid Membership Pro is a flexible membership plugin for WordPress with community-building features. Users can create their own profiles and profile pages. And you can create members-only directories so users can find and interact with other members. It integrates with plugins like bbPress and BuddyPress to create a social community within your membership site.

Key Features for Paid Memberships Pro:

  • Unlimited membership levels and pricing options
  • Front-end user profile creation
  • User profile pages and member directory
  • Content dripping and restricted content options
  • Integrations with BuddyPress, BuddyBoss, and bbPress
  • Built-in payment gateways
  • Recurring payments and subscriptions
  • Admin reports and analytics for sales, visits, signups, and more

Best For:

Paid Memberships Pro is best for those wanting a freemium membership plugin that can scale with your needs, especially if you’re interested in creating multiple membership tiers. Its customization options make it an excellent fit for those who want more hands-on customization options.

Pricing: Free. The pro version starts at $247/yr.

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3. ProfileGrid

ProfileGrid banner

ProfileGrid is a powerful all-in-one community plugin for WordPress packed with features. Users can create fantastic profile pages using templates, customize each section, and include custom profile tabs. The profile pages resemble the layout and functionality of Facebook so that visitors can view a user’s about area, friends, photos, and more. Premium add-ons introduce group functionality WooCommerce integration, menu restrictions, and more.

Key Features for ProfileGrid:

  • Create custom user profiles
  • Build online communities
  • Customize profile fields and data
  • Follow users and create new friends
  • Users can add recent blog posts and Wall Posts
  • Users receive notifications of friend and group activity
  • Built-in user control for privacy and content restriction
  • Use block editor for content restriction elements

Profile Grid group

One of the unique features of the plugin is user groups. You can create groups for users to join, and users can chat with each other using a private messaging system.

Best For:

Profile Grid is best for those who want to build a robust member director or community website with social network-type features, including the unique ability to create and join groups. It is excellent for beginners because it has many features in a free version.

Pricing:  Free, with premium licenses starting at $79.00/yr.

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4. bbPress

bbpress forum and community plugin

bbPress is one of the most popular forum plugins for WordPress. Adding a powerful discussion board to your site makes it easy to grow your community. Built by the creators of WordPress, this plugin is well-supported and often integrated with other themes and plugins for more advanced forum functionality.

It integrates with membership plugins like MemberPress and Paid Memberships Pro to easily add a forum to your membership site. It also integrates with Lifter LMS to create a community forum for your online course.

Key Features for bbPress:

  • The option to create forums for multiple sites
  • The ability to customize forum templates
  • Built-in spam protection for forums using Akismet
  • Fast and lightweight, following WordPress standards
  • Compatibility with various free third-party plugins to extend the functionality
  • Users can subscribe to topics and specific forums for notifications

bbPress forum page

With bbPress, you can create public or private forums and place them anywhere on your site. And you can easily create unlimited forums and topics and manage replies on the backend.

Best For:

bbPress is best for beginners looking to add high-quality forum functionality to their site for free. It won’t have more advanced features or styling options, but it will do the job.

Pricing: Free

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5. BuddyPress

BuddyPress WordPress Community Plugin

BuddyPress is a popular community plugin for WordPress that allows you to create a social network on your website. Like bbPress, it is created by the WordPress team and can be extended with many third-party themes and plugins.

The design is basic, but the functionality and features are hard to beat for a free plugin. You can create user profiles with built-in functionality for friends, groups, messaging, and more.

Key Features for BuddyPress:

  • Customizable user profiles with profile fields
  • Activity streams for tracking user interactions
  • Personal and group messaging
  • Admins can create custom profile fields
  • Users can control profile visibility

BuddyPress Personal Profile and Friend Requests

One of the most significant benefits of BuddyPress is its flexibility. It can work with any WordPress theme to transform your website into a social network.

Best For:

BuddyPress is an excellent choice for sites that want to provide a platform for their users to interact and engage with each other.

Pricing: Free.

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6. Ultimate Member

Ultimate Member WordPress membership plugin

Ultimate Member is a freemium community plugin for WordPress that offers all the features you would need to add membership directories, user profiles, and more on your site. The free version comes with limited core features that would work for beginners. However, you’ll need to upgrade to premium to access 30+ add-ons to get functionality for followers, friends, private messages, and more.

Plus, it integrates with other plugins, such as WooCommerce, to create a WooCommerce membership site.

Key Features for Ultimate Member:

  • Drag-and-drop form builder with conditional logic
  • Private messaging system
  • Woocommerce integration
  • Customizable user registration and login forms
  • Front-end user profiles and account management
  • Membership and subscription management

Ultimate Member settings

The drag-and-drop form builder is a standout feature. This makes creating unique login and registration forms for your website easy.

Best For:

Ultimate Member is great for those who want to create a membership directory site or add user profiles to their existing website for community building. It’s also great for those seeking more control over user registration forms.

Pricing: Free. The pro version starts at $249 per year.

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7. wpForo

wpForo free WP Forum Plugin

wpForo is a WordPress forum plugin that allows you to add custom discussion (or bulletin) boards to your website. The core plugin is free, but you must purchase add-ons for unique features, including private messaging, GIPHY images, and many more.

Key Features for wpForo:

  • Responsive design that works on all devices
  • SEO-friendly URLs for better search engine rankings
  • Advanced user profile system
  • Customizable forum layouts and designs
  • Private messaging system
  • Integration with popular WordPress plugins like BuddyPress, Yoast SEO, and Akismet

wpForo Forum Quality Sytyles and Design

wpForo stands out among other forum plugins due to its contemporary appearance, which is why numerous users favor it. Site admins can choose from four main layout styles, and individual users can select from six styles or skins to personalize their experience, including a dark mode.

More so, by integrating with MyCred (a top gamification plugin), you can boost your community user experience by rewarding points to users for getting likes and upvotes.

Best For:

wpForo is excellent for those wanting a modern-looking forum to build their community engagement and don’t mind paying for add-ons for more functionality.

Pricing: Free.

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8. UserPro

UserPro banner ad

UserPro is a community plugin on the Envato Market with some impressive features for building a social network community. You can create member directories and display online members. Users can create and customize their user profile pages that other members can view and follow, similar to popular social network profile pages. You can also allow users to create blog posts that can be shared and viewed publicly and within their profile. Community members can also earn badges that will be displayed on their profile cards.

Key Features for UserPro:

  • Customizable registration and login forms
  • User profiles with custom fields and profile photos
  • Front-end user directory with search filters and sorting options
  • Integration with popular social networks
  • Built-in user roles and permissions management
  • Content restriction for members only
  • Private messaging system

userPro Members

The plugin’s built-in follow system allows users to follow each other and receive notifications when someone they follow posts an update. This is great for boosting engagement within the online community.

Best For:

UserPro is ideal for building a fun and engaging community website with custom member directories and profiles that feel like a social network.

Pricing: $39/lifetime

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Comparing The Best WordPress Community Plugins

Incorporating a community plugin into your WordPress site is an excellent way to build an online community. Whether you need a robust membership plugin or simply a plugin to foster community engagement, our list has something for everyone.

Community Plugin Pricing Comparison

Before deciding on one, take the time to try out the plugins on our list that come with a free version. That way, you’ll be able to test out several of them to decide which is right for you. However, if you wish to opt for a premium solution, there are options for those on our list as well.

PluginPriceFree Option
🥇MemberPress$179.50 per yearVisit
🥈Paid Membership Pro$247.00 per year✔️Visit
🥉ProfileGrid$79.00 per year✔️Visit
4bbPress/✔️Visit
5BuddyPress/✔️Visit
6Ultimate Member$249.00 per year✔️Visit
7wpForo/✔️Visit
8UserPro$39.00 for lifetimeVisit

Community Plugin Feature Comparison

If you need a premium solution that incorporates restricted content, subscription plans, and unlimited membership tiers, any of the top three will work just fine for you. However, if you want to incorporate quizzes or lessons into your site, opt for a plugin like MemberPress or Paid Memberships Pro, as they are fully functional membership plugins that help you build your online community. If you don’t need memberships, Profile Grid is a great choice. You can create custom user profiles, make friends, follow them, and allow them to post their own blog posts. Whichever you choose, these plugins will allow you to get the most out of your community website.

🥇 MemberPress🥈 Paid Memberships Pro🥉 ProfileGrid
Starting Price$179.50/year$247/year$79/year
Multiple Payment Gateways✔️✔️✔️
Plugin Integration✔️✔️✔️
Premium Add-ons✔️✔️✔️
Content Restriction✔️✔️✔️
Unlimited Membership Levels✔️✔️✔️
Page Builder Integration✔️✔️✔️
Customizable Reports✔️✔️✔️
WooCommerce Integration✔️✔️✔️
Active Installations200K+100K+7K+
Community Rating4.5/5
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Read Reviews
4.5/5
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Read Reviews
4.5/5
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Read Reviews
Get MemberPressGet Paid Memberships ProGet Profile Grid

What is the Best Community Plugin For WordPress?

Choosing the best community plugin depends on your specific needs. For those looking for the most powerful community solutions, MemberPress is a great option. Integration with bbPress (or BuddyPress) gives you all the powerful features of a membership site and a community site in one. To top it off, it integrates with Divi so you can design your community site with powerful no-code design options.

Regardless of your chosen solution, engaging with your audience is always a step in the right direction.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Before we wrap up, let’s answer some of your most common questions regarding the best WordPress community plugins. Did we miss one? Leave a question below, and we will respond!

What is the best community plugin for WordPress?
MemberPress emerges as the best choice. By seamlessly integrating with bbPress (or BuddyPress), this plugin offers the best of both worlds — empowering you with the excellent capabilities of a membership site combined with the dynamic features of a community site.
What is the best free community plugin for WordPress?
With a suite of excellent features like frontend login/sign-up, content restriction, and integrations with Divi, bbPress, and BuddyPress, in its free version, Paid Memberships Pro stands out as the best free community plugin for WordPress.
How do I create a thriving community in WordPress?
To create a thriving community in WordPress, start by installing a membership plugin like MemberPress or Paid Memberships Pro with bbPress (or BuddyPress.) Customize the plugin settings to match your vision and promote community participation through events, contests, and user-generated content. Ensure you keep all content moderated to prevent bad actors from spoiling the experience for everyone else.
What makes WordPress ideal for creating a community website?
WordPress is ideal for creating a community website because it is user-friendly and offers a wide range of plugins and themes designed for community building. With its customizable options, built-in features like user registration, and support for user-generated content, WordPress makes engaging and connecting with community members easy, making it the perfect platform for creating a thriving community website.
Which WordPress community plugin has the best integrations?
MemberPress is the WordPress community plugin that has the best integrations. It integrates well with other plugins and services such as WooCommerce, MonsterInsights, Stripe, and page builders like Divi.
Which WordPress community plugin allows content restriction?
Content restriction refers to showing certain content, pages, or options only to members, often paid ones. WordPress community plugins such as MemberPress, Paid Memberships Pro, and ProfileGrid let you restrict content based on various factors.
How do I create a social network with WordPress?
You can use plugins such as BuddyPress to create a social network with WordPress. It lets you add social network features such as user profiles, activity feeds, groups, messaging, customization, and more to your WordPress site.
Why should I make a community on my website?
A community provides a platform for your audience to engage with each other and with you, which can foster a sense of connection and loyalty toward your brand. This can lead to increased engagement, repeat visits, and, ultimately, increased sales and revenue. Additionally, you can gain valuable insights into the needs and desires of your target audience.
How can I use online communities to promote my products?
To promote your products through online communities, actively engage in relevant groups and forums by providing valuable insights and answering questions related to your products. Share helpful content, offer exclusive discounts, and encourage satisfied customers to share their experiences.
What is the difference between an online community and a forum?
An online community is a broader term encompassing various platforms and interactions. At the same time, a forum is a specific type of online community focused on discussion and sharing information on a particular topic. In short, all forums are online communities; however, not all online communities are forums.

Looking for more great plugins? Check out this list of the best WordPress plugins from every category.

Featured Image via Aygun Ali / shutterstock.com

Top Picks

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medal iconMemberPressoutgoing link medal iconPaid Memberships Prooutgoing link medal iconProfileGridoutgoing link
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With so many great options available, it can be hard to pick one. Find out why MemberPress is our favorite. 👇

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