How to Create a Client Portal in WordPress

Rochester Oliveira • Jan 16, 2023 • 15 min read

WordPress is a CMS (Content Management System). Although it is widely used for blogs and simple websites, it provides tools to build any system you want. With WordPress, you can build online stores, forums, apps, membership websites, and even client portals.


Client portals allow your customers to see tasks, projects, and documents in one place. With it, you can quickly communicate with clients, and they can see how projects are going on their own.


You can use WordPress to create client portals in three different ways:

  1. With a network install;
  2. With membership plugins;
  3. Using password-protected pages.


Each of these options have their pros and cons.


Let’s see how you can implement each of them.

Build your client portal. No coding skills required.

Using Softr, you can quickly create client portals in just a few clicks!

How to create a client portal in WordPress with a network install


Cost: 0

Time: 1h-4h, depending on your technical background and setup


You can create a client portal in WordPress using a network, also known as multisite installation.


This type of WordPress install creates a main site that allows you to create multiple subsites under the same wp-admin.


These subsites each have their own database tables (with the exception of the users table), which means that the content is separate on each of them. But since they are all in the same network, it is easy to load content from one subsite to another one, in case you need to.


The main use of the network feature itself is creating new subsites for your clients, so each of them can only see data about their own projects.


They can see everything from the WordPress dashboard. This allows them to interact with your content, upload media, and use the dashboard as they would in other client portals.


Let’s see how you can do it.

Create a WordPress install for your client portal


You could use your current WordPress website, but it’s quite risky. It’s better to create a new WordPress installation to keep things completely separate.


You can create a new WordPress installation using a one-click installation from your hosting provider, or you can do so manually by downloading the files from WordPress.org.

Create a WordPress install for your client portal

Turn your WordPress installation into a network


Then, you can turn your site into a network by following this guide. To summarize, here is what you need.



Pick between path and subdomain installation


You can create new websites as paths of a main website (example.com/newsite) or as subdomains of the main website (newsite.example.com). In this case, we will explore the path option, but feel free to play around with subdomains as well.

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Run a full backup


If this isn’t a new site, run a full backup to make sure there will be no data loss.



Edit the wp-config.php file


Add this code to your wp-config:

define( 'WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE', true );



Run the setup wizard


Go to wp-admin > Tools > Network Setup. Select the network mode you picked in the first step. Click on Install.

Run the setup wizard

Edit the .htaccess file


Edit the .htaccess file to add the code that you see in the setup wizard.

Edit the .htaccess file

Create a client site


In this step, you will create a base website for a client, which can be copied for your other clients.



Add a site to your network


Under the main website admin dashboard, go to Network Admin > Sites > Add new.

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Add some demo pages for your projects


Add a few demo projects, so that clients will know where they can find them.


You can add pages for each of your projects, as well as sub-pages for tasks, timelines, and invoices.

Add some demo pages for your projects

Add a coming soon mode plugin


All this content might be public if unauthorized users visit the subsite URL directly.


Add a coming soon plugin to prevent unwanted access to your client portals. Go to My sites > Network Admin > Plugins > Add new

Add a coming soon mode plugin

User registration


You can either add clients manually to their sites, or allow them to register.


Allowing user self-registration


Go to My Sites > Network Admin > Settings > General. Check “user accounts can be registered.”

Allowing user self-registration

Manually creating client accounts


Another option is to manually create users for your clients. 


Go to wp-admin > users > add new, and fill in the login information under “Add New User”:

Manually creating client accounts

Teach clients how they can use it


Your clients might be lost when they first visit your client portal.


Create a page with instructions, so that they know how to add projects, media, tasks, and check documents.

Teach clients how they can use it

Build your client portal. No coding skills required.

Using Softr, you can quickly create client portals in just a few clicks!

How to create a client portal in WordPress using a membership plugin


Cost: $0

Time: 1h


You can create a client portal using membership plugins. In general, they allow you to create private content, private pages, and allow users to upload data.


Your main concern in this case is to make sure that clients don’t see other clients’ contents, given that they are all on the same website.


You can achieve this by using different membership levels. So each page is assigned to a membership level, and users won’t be able to see them.

Create a new WordPress installation


Create a new WordPress installation. You can use your hosting provider’s one-click WordPress installation feature, or manually download WordPress from WordPress.org and install it manually.


You could use your current website, but it’s safer to keep your client portal completely separate from your main website.

Create a new WordPress installation

Install membership plugin


Install a membership plugin. There are many options, but Simple Membership is a good one:

Install membership plugin

The next steps depend on how your membership plugin works, but the general idea is the same for each of them.



Create a new membership level


Create a new membership level for each of your clients. This ensures that they will only see content that you want them to.


Go to Wp-admin > WP Memberships > Add new.

Create a new membership level

Add the membership details


Add the details about the membership level for this client. You can create a new level for each of your clients to make sure that they only see their own content.

Add the membership details

Create documents and pages for them


Create new documents and use these newly created membership levels in them. For example, you can create a new page for Project X, Company X. In it, make sure that the membership level is “Company X”.


This allows all users from Company X to have access to these pages. They can interact with you using the comments section.

Create documents and pages for them

Improve the workflow


You can improve how your client portal works by adding new membership levels automatically, allowing user file uploads, allow users to create posts and pages for projects and tasks.

How to create a client portal in WordPress with protected pages


Cost: $0

Time: 1h


This method is quite similar to creating a client portal with a membership plugin. But in this case, you’ll manually set the pages as password protected.


After that, you can share links for these pages and passwords with your clients.



Create new pages with password


Add new WordPress pages. Make sure that you allow comments in the “Discussion” section and to change visibility from Public to Password Protected.

Create new pages with password

Send pages to your clients


Send your clients the links to these pages along with their passwords.


Preferably, use a single password for all pages of each client. This allows them to quickly see all projects, without having to memorize a lot of different passwords.

Send pages to your clients

Allow file uploads in comments


You can use a plugin to allow for file uploads or richer comments.


A plugin such as DCO Comment Attachment allows your clients to upload images, audios, videos, spreadsheets, documents, code and more.

Allow file uploads in comments

Can you make a client portal on WordPress?


You can use WordPress to create a client portal. But it might not be the best option for you. At the end of the day, only you know what’s best for your project, so let’s take a look at some Pros and Cons of using WordPress to create a client portal.



Positive points of using WordPress to create a client portal


The first positive point is that it is a free solution. You can use WordPress for free, and there are a lot of great free WordPress plugins.


Another positive point is that you control everything. If you can code, you can customize the interface, the workflows, and anything you want.


And finally, the WordPress community is a big pro in itself. There are many tutorials, plugins, and developers to rely on. You can find a lot of information for free, or ask around if you want to.



Negative points of using WordPress to create a client portal


Even though WordPress itself is free, it isn’t 100% free. To create a client portal, you still need a hosting provider and a domain name. These are unusually inexpensive, but if you want to make it look good with a premium theme and plugins, it can get expensive quite fast.


Another negative point is how long it takes to get started. You need a few hours to create the WordPress client portal, and then more time to customize it. If you use Softr, for example, you can use a client portal template and get started in no time.


In addition, you need to take into account how maintenance-heavy WordPress is. There are constant core releases, plugin updates and theme updates. You need to make sure that everything is working as it should, that you didn’t get hacked. At the end of the day, you are responsible for the entire infrastructure of your client portal.


And If you want to customize your WordPress client portal in any way, you need to hire a developer or learn how to code. Unlike a no-code builder like Softr, where you can edit anything you want, without coding.



Overview


In general, WordPress might be a good solution if you don’t plan on customizing your client portal. It’s also a good option if you have time to learn how to use it and to maintain it.


If you want a simple approach, with a fully customizable platform without worrying about your infrastructure, you can create a client portal using Softr.


Build your client portal. No coding skills required.

Using Softr, you can quickly create client portals in just a few clicks!


Frequently asked questions about client portals

A client portal allows clients to see their projects, download files, sign documents, manage tasks and interact with your team.

They are accessible online, and clients can sign up by themselves, you can create their usernames, or you can automate the sign up process to start after their order is paid.

WordPress doesn’t have a client portal by default. You can use three methods to create client portals in WordPress:

1. Create a network install - give clients access to their own subsite, with content about their projects

2. Using password-protected pages - using a single site, so only visitors with passwords for these pages can see them

3. With membership plugins - creating pages restricted using different membership plans, so each client has access to their own content only

You can build a client portal for free using tools like WordPress or Softr. But there are paid tools as well.

In general, the price of your client portal comes down to how much data you have, what kind of features you are looking for and how much time you want to spend building and maintaining it.

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