Is It the Membership Site Solution You Need?
There is no chance that you will build a successful membership site without utilizing a high-quality membership site program to manage and secure everything from a centralized location. aMember is one of the most mature commercial software options, as it has been around for more than a decade. It should be no surprise that it is one of the more popular options on the market, given the amount of time that the developers have had to tweak and improve the original product. The current release is version 4.X which marked a number of improvements over the previous version. There is a good chance that you have heard about aMember before, but you still might not know exactly what to expect. Here is a closer look at the biggest benefits and drawbacks that the software has.
Before we get into the unique benefits of aMember, it is important to point out that the software has nearly all of the advanced features you would expect from a top-notch membership program such as drip-feeding content, an affiliate management program, unlimited membership tiers, and is excellent at protecting the members area from outside access.
Free Initial Installation
The biggest benefit of aMember is that you can take advantage of their free installation policy. This can be incredibly useful if you don’t have any experience installing this type of software on your website. It is coded almost entirely in PHP, which means that there can be a steep learning curve if you aren’t familiar with it. Keep in mind that this is a basic installation and you will still be responsible for all of the customizations that you may need.
Built In Help-Desk
Another benefit of aMember is that there is a built-in help desk for your members. This is not a publically accessible help desk, so they will need to be logged into their account in order to use it. The help desk is easy to manage from within the admin area, although it isn’t the flashiest help desk on the block – it is still very solid.
Extremely Flexible – In More Ways Than One
aMember was definitely created with you in mind. A majority of the changes that you will need to make can be done from within your admin area. There are also a number of plugins that you can purchase which will help integrate popular 3rd party utilities such as vBulletin. Additionally, when you purchase aMember, you will get complete access to the source code which will allow to you make any modifications to the PHP code. The only exception is a primary source file which is encrypted due to licensing purposes. Overall, you will be able to change pretty much everything if you need to. For the most part, anything that aMember can’t do could be added with varies hacks.
Strict Transfer Rules
One of the more surprising drawbacks of aMember is the uber-strict transfer rules that they have in place. Keep in mind that you can only purchase a single site license at a cost of $179.95. Currently, there are no multi-site licenses publically available. The biggest restriction is that you will only be allowed to transfer your license to a new domain if it has not previously been transferred and was purchased within the last 3 months.
Extra Plugins Can Get Expensive
Another drawback is that purchasing the extra plugins can be expensive. While there are a few free ones, a majority of them are $40 apiece. This can quickly add up if you plan on creating multiple membership sites.
Steep Learning Curve
The final common criticism of aMember is that the overall learning curve is much steeper than other options on the market. aMember has never undergone a drastic redevelopment, so all of the features that have been added over time have led to a bloated program. Plus, there are sections which are not very user friendly for newbies.
aMember will likely be a main competitor in the membership software space for the foreseeable future. Overall, it is a high-quality product with more benefits than drawbacks. At the same time, there are a number of newer options that can match the feature set, while simplifying the user interface and minimizing the learning curve.