UI, or user interface, is one of the most important parts of any online platform.
It’s like the currency of your website, app, or service—users need to navigate and interact with your content, so you have to lay it out in an engaging, intuitive way that beckons more attention and retention.
We made this guide on the best WordPress theme for membership sites so that you can take your already amazing coursework that you designed, and display it in a more functional, easy-to-look-at way that will entice new students, and ensure that your current students continue to use your site and courses.
Top 10 Best WordPress Theme for Membership Sites – Reviews For 2021
Best Overall: WP Astra
- Price: From $41 to $199 annually, or $174 up to $559 for lifetime licensing
- Ease of Use: Extremely easy; learning curve of about three days
- Integration: Integrates with many third-party apps and WordPress plugins
- Compatibility: Compatible with WordPress, plugins, and embedded content
Best WordPress theme for video membership sites is WP Astra, a one-in-all theme that covers all of your needs.
Host video, integrate with third-party apps, and other WordPress plugins like it’s nobody’s business. WP Astra wins here not just because of integration, but stunning design.
Memberships for content, communities, and educational platforms can all benefit from this intuitive design. It’s used by Nasa, Stanford, and many other leading authority websites.
Choose layout options, headers, and quickly incorporate popular plugins like Yoast, WooCommerce, and LearnDash in seconds. If you already have those installed, this snaps right into place with minimal setup time.
Maintain fast response times with a whopping 95% Speed Grade rating from Google Dev, and less than 50kb of assets to speed up those times even more.
WP Astra is the one-size-fits-all solution with virtually no downsides. Lifetime licensing is expensive, but worthwhile.
Runner Up: Elegant Divi
- Price: $89 for an annual plan, or $249 for lifetime licensing
- Ease of Use: Moderate difficulty; learning curve of about two weeks
- Integration: Integrates with WordPress and some third-party apps, most plugins
- Compatibility: Compatible with most recent versions of WordPress only
Can’t find the best WordPress theme for you? That’s okay—Divi can help you make one.
This is an all-in-one page-building and website-building tool. Plug this in, and enjoy visual building similar to platforms like Squarespace, but with all the SEO benefits of WordPress.
Change geometric designs, blocks, and explore the layout library to have placements done for you. You can transform a page with stunning visual effects at the drop of a hat.
Apart from the solid aesthetic design, Divi by Elegant is also able to allow custom CSS control, inline text editing, and of course their simple drag-and-drop building. With responsive editing and over forty website elements, you’ll be able to make the unique page of your dreams with Divi.
Alterantive: Hestia PRO
- Price: $69 to $199 for annual plans, $99 to $299 for lifetime licensing
- Ease of Use: Moderate to high difficulty; learning curve of about three weeks
- Integration: Integrates well with many plugins, difficulty with third-party apps
- Compatibility: Compatible with most recent versions of WordPress only, compatible with page builders (like Elegant Divi), and optimized for speed-boosting plugins
The best SEO WordPress theme for businesses absolutely goes to Hestia PRO, but surprisingly, their package also appeals to membership sites.
Hestia PRO focuses on single-page designs, so you can make landing pages, stellar homepages, and with a membership plugin, a protected access content website.
With sleek designs, you attract attention and avoid cluttered visuals, leaving the UI experience completely clean.
One of the best technical features of Hestia PRO is the low assets, so you aren’t overloading the page. You can get unparalleled website response speeds to ensure your visitors maintain their interest in what you have to offer.
Last but not least, Hestia PRO integrates with most plugins with no problems, so you can snap this into place and just keep going with your site. It doesn’t take long to get used to.
Academy Pro Theme Package
- Price: $129.95, a one-time purchase for life
- Ease of Use: Easy to moderate; learning curve of about one week
- Integration: Integrates well with WordPress, some issues with other plugins and third-party apps
- Compatibility: Moderate; up to six widgets, ecommerce, and good mobile responsiveness
The best WordPress mobile theme has to go to Academy Pro, and in terms of value, you get a lot more than many other themes are offering.
It’s a $129.95 one-time purchase, and you get the theme for life. Integration into WordPress works well, but some newer third-party apps or updated apps might run into a brick wall here.
One bad thing is that you’re only allowed up to six widgets at a time, so if your membership site relies heavily on widgets, this could be a dealbreaker.
Mobile responsiveness, page response times, and a clean UI make this perfect to make an online academy or learning platform as well. Academy Pro’s value beats many of the others on this list.
- Price: $49 to $99 for annual plans, $299 for lifetime license
- Ease of Use: Easy to moderate; about a one-week learning curve
- Integration: Marketing, drip, ConvertKit integration and more only on PRO plan
- Compatibility: Compatible with WordPress plugins for most of the 250+ themes through Brizy
Brizy might just be the best ecommerce theme WordPress has ever had. The clean design, simple UI and fast response times make this great for content-heavy pages.
Brizy is a theme service, so you can either opt for one theme and pay a one-time lifetime license fee, or you can get access to a library of themes.
If you want to try them out, Brizy does offer a free version that gives you a really good look at what the paid version will feel like.
With easy mastery, integration with some of the most popular WordPress plugins, and over 250 themes to choose from, Brizy is your one-stop shop.
Themify’s Ultra Theme
- Price: $59 to $89 annually, or $349 for unlimited lifetime licensing
- Ease of Use: Moderate difficulty level; learning curve of one to two weeks
- Integration: Integrated seamlessly with many third-party apps and plugins, as well as built-in add-ons
- Compatibility: Includes tons of add-ons and is compatible with the most recent versions of WordPress
As a WordPress membership site theme, this is exactly what a lot of us imagine when everything is still in the concept stage.
Ultra Theme by Themify is great as a WordPress subscription theme because it allows you to give page previews and demos to potential customers, giving them time to take a look through everything before making a final decision.
The pricing goes from cheap to steep if you want the lifetime license. With widespread integration, and a dozen builder add-ons included with your theme, it’s well worth the cost.
You get a total of 60 layouts to choose from, so if you’re picky about how your site is lined up, Ultra Theme has you covered. You’re still in control of how your membership site looks and feels.
- Price: $79 for annual plan, $159 for unlimited lifetime licensing
- Ease of Use: Moderate to difficult; learning curve of about two to four weeks, more if you don’t know coding
- Integration: Works alongside tons of plugins like Yoast and WooCommerce
- Compatibility: Less compatible with third-party apps than other themes, very compatible with WordPress (fast installation)
Indigo is a simple theme, but that’s what we love about it. For membership sites, this has a nice clean slate and once you get used to it, it’s pretty easy to use.
That is, if you want to be limited. The built-in features that Indigo has are good, but this has a heavy emphasis on code injection, so if you don’t know coding you’ll be missing out on a big chunk of the reason that people get this theme.
That being said, you only have to pay $159 for unlimited lifetime licensing, or the same price for an all theme access package (which can be purchased through lifetime packages as well).
At the end of the day, you get widespread integration, but some compatibility issues with third-party apps, such as back channels to your CRM.
- Price: $34 for a lifetime license, up to $174 for a lifetime license to all products
- Ease of Use: Extremely easy; two-day learning curve at best
- Integration: Integrates well with many apps including WPML, Mailchimp, Yoast and more
- Compatibility: Not as compatible with third-party apps and alternate WordPress plugins as others
Designed specifically for the cryptocurrency crowd, Blockchain (as you might have guessed) is particularly designed to make your crypto sites look and feel better.
While third-party apps take a back seat with this theme, you do have access to widgets that help display BTC prices, all pulled from live feeds with accurate information.
As a WordPress membership theme for a blockchain-centric community site, this could work wonders. Make a membership for access to forums, specialized content, and interviews with major members from the crypto community (hey, just a thought).
The best part? It’s the cheapest WordPress theme on this list, and it’s for a lifetime subscription. You can take advantage of a low-cost lifetime license to all of their other themes and products as well.
- Price: Free
- Ease of Use: Extremely easy to use; two-day learning curve at best
- Integration: Integrates into WordPress and with all third-party apps
- Compatibility: Completely compatible with everything on WordPress, designed by Extend Themes and hosted on WordPress.org
Need a widespread subscription based WordPress theme? Mesmerize is hosted on WordPress.org, built by Extend Themes, and to date is the most widely-used, compatible theme that you can get for WordPress.
It integrates beautifully, it’s compatible, and best of all: it’s completely free. You can download it and integrate it right now. There are over 40,000 active installations as you read this.
But the thing is… that might not be a good thing. Mesmerize has layout options to make it unique, but that means you have a chance of making a too-similar website to 40,000+ other people.
Mesmerize is great, don’t get me wrong. It’s free, it’s powerful, it maintains a high speed, and the compatibility alone is a breath of fresh air. Just consider if it’s the direction you want to go in before committing to it.
- Price: $129 annually (optional, but you need updates so you have to continue paying)
- Ease of Use: Moderate to difficult; learning curve of about two weeks
- Integration: Ingrates well with most plugins, slight difficulties with third-party app support
- Compatibility: Compatible with most recent versions of WordPress
We saved one of the best WordPress themes for membership sites for last, and that’s Showthemes. As you might imagine, it’s not just a single theme, but a slew of excellent, high-quality themes that you get to pick and choose from.
If you want, you can make this a one-time purchase and be done with it. Just keep this theme forever, use the plugin that’s included forever, and you’re good to go. Use the theme on three separate websites, plus all the built-in add-ons that come with this package.
But the thing is, you’ll be forfeiting the right to updates, which will come with a heap of troubles. When WordPress eventually upgrades again, your theme will be null and void, and plugins will continue to upgrade as well, leaving you in the dirt.
The theme is solid for memberships, but it is limited to annual plans if you want to stick with this. Compatibility and integration are top-notch (thanks to the ongoing dev support), and their inclusive conference plugin makes it easy to create online courses, podcasts, or livestreams.
WordPress Theme for Membership Buying Guide and FAQ
What to Look for in a WordPress Membership Theme?
Any WordPress theme for membership sites should include features that you actually want, such as fonts that you enjoy or find beneficial to your message, colors that represent your logo or image, and above all else, membership website templates that are responsive on multiple devices.
We’re in the smartphone age where about 50% or more of all internet usage is mobile now, and younger people are a hefty majority of that 50%, so if you don’t get a responsive theme you’re shutting out a huge part of your target audience for online courses and educational content.
What’s the Difference Between a Membership Theme and a Membership Plugin?
WordPress theme subscriptions are run through a plugin, but the plugins don’t actually impact the physical design of a membership site (not by much, anyway). Your theme is aesthetic, and make no mistake: we buy with our eyes.
Sure, your WordPress membership template can have some stellar copywriting to help sell it and seal the deal, but if it doesn’t look attractive enough for people to engage with throughout the day when they want to access their memberships, then they’re less likely to come back time and time again.
Plugins are BOH pieces of micro software that work on function, while a template is all about flair. The way that your template outlines your content is huge: if it’s not easy to read, find, or navigate to, it’s not going to be viewed by your target audience.
Should You Create a Forum to Go Along With Your Membership Website?
Most membership sites have specific content, courses, or they’re specifically designed for user-to-user interactions.Yes, you should absolutely have a forum (especially for the latter), because it allows your users to help each other out when they have questions about what you’re offering. That may not seem like much now, but it will prevent your inbox from flooding with queries.
But the thing is, forums give you an even bigger opportunity. You can also interact with your website users, which shows community involvement and engagement, and makes you more favorable among your current members. That’s something that most people don’t do, so it shows how much you care, and reminds people of why they engage with your site in the first place.
Last but not least, forum posts can be SEO-rich and help new visitors find your website. They see content, they subscribe for a month, one month turns into two, and before you know it you’re poised to have a new lifetime customer all because of some organic SEO results, which is just the byproduct of you helping your community.
If You Have a Membership Theme and Membership Plugin Do You Still Need a Page Builder for Landing Pages?
Templates normally do not have landing page themes, and if they did, the number of templates would be so limiting that it likely wouldn’t jive with the rest of your site anyway.
Membership plugins tend to come with marketing tools to help you out in this department, but they still don’t build landing pages for you.
You should either learn how to build a landing page on WordPress from the ground up, or you could go with a landing page builder if you really needed to.
Do Membership Themes Come With Any Additional Features?
Membership themes understand that you’re using complex plugins, so they come with the feature of being third-party integrated and adapt to these plugins very well. It makes designing modules and protected content areas much easier.
For the most part, every template is unique. Some offer entire pre-built websites in their templates, while others are designed for page builders, ultra fast performance, or people who want to drag and drop (so to speak) without knowing any coding. Yes, they have additional features, and they’re all packaged together like a big beautiful bundle.
Building Better Online Membership Programs
User interface preferences change over time, so be sure to bookmark this guide in case you need to switch themes at a later date if your current one just isn’t doing it for you. As your online course platform or website evolves, so will your taste.
Maintaining your students and their interest in your courses is extremely important, and with the right pre-made themes, very easy to do. Find one that looks appealing to you, that you could see yourself using if you were a student, and see how it works for your WordPress course site.