If you run a business that focuses on providing services to clients, you’re probably used to using several different tools to manage client projects. From sending the proposal and the contract to invoicing clients, sharing project files, and communicating with them for the duration of the project, there is no shortage of available tools online.
But the problem with using multiple tools is that both you and your client have to not only remember all the different tools but also keep track of logins. What if there was a better way and you could keep all the files in one place?
It turns out there is. You can easily do so with a client portal and what’s even better is that you use a plugin to keep the client portal on your site and make it easy for your customers to access it.
In this post, I’ll show you how to create a client portal with WP Customer Area plugin and discuss the main features that this plugin offers.
What is WP Customer Area Plugin?
WP Customer Area is a free plugin that allows you to create a fully functional client portal on your WordPress website. You can easily create private and secure pages for your clients where you can share files related to their project.
Aside from this core functionality, the plugin does offer extra themes and addons that allow you to add extra functionality to your client portal. A few examples include:
- Paypal and Stripe addons so your clients can pay their invoices right from the client portal
- Terms of Service addon
- Conversations addon for private messaging with your clients
- Email notifications so your clients can get notified when you add new files
- And more.
In other words, with the core plugin and the right combination of addons, you could easily replace several tools that you’d usually use for client project management and communication.
The pricing for the addons starts at $20/year for the individual addon and you can also purchase addon bundles.
How to Create a Client Portal With WP Customer Area Plugin?
Now that we’ve covered what the plugin has to offer, let’s take a look at how to create a client portal with WP Customer Area.
Step 1: Install and Activate the Plugin
The first step towards creating a client portal is to install the activate the WP Customer Area plugin. To start, go to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to Plugins > Add new.
Search for the WP Customer Area plugin, click the Install button, and then click the Activate button. The plugin will now be installed on your site and prompt you to go through the setup process so let’s go ahead and do that.
Step 2: Create Pages
The next step is to create the necessary pages and the menu that your clients will use to find their files and access relevant pages. Click the Configure pages and menu button and the plugin will automatically create the necessary pages. This includes the following pages:
- Customer Area Home
- Files and My Files
- Pages and My Pages
- My Account, Account Details, Edit My Account, and Logout pages
The plugin will also setup a custom navigation menu which you can access by going to Appearance > Menus.
Step 3: Configure Permissions
The WP Customer Area plugin will only set the necessary permissions for site administrators. As the site owner, you need to decide which permissions you will assign to your clients which will become users on your site. Therefore, the next step is to configure the WP Customer Area permissions for other users.
Click the Configure Permissions button and you will be taken to the screen where you can assign various permissions for front-end and back-end access, managing files, creating private pages, and more.
How you configure the permissions is largely up to you. If you need guidance, the plugin has a detailed reference guide on user permissions. It is, however, recommended to assign your clients a Subscriber Role and then give them access to view private pages, view private files, and edit their account details.
Step 4: Setup or Check Permalinks Settings
Once you’ve configured the pages and permissions, you will need to check your permalink settings. If your permalinks are not configured properly, WP Customer Area plugin won’t function properly.
In your WordPress dashboard, navigate to Settings > Permalinks and make sure you’ve chosen any setting except the Plain setting. Setting your permalinks to %postname% is a good choice and a good practice.
Step 5: Create an Example Client User
Now it’s time to make sure everything was setup correctly by creating an example client. To do that, go to Users > Add New. Here, fill out their username, email address, and generate a secure password for them.
Since you’re not creating an actual user, you can skip sending password via email but make sure to copy it somewhere so you can test the user experience for your clients.
Set the User role to Subscriber and then click the Add new user button.
Step 6: Upload a Demo Private File
Let’s go ahead and create a private file for our demo user. To do this, go to Customer Area > Files and then click the Add New button.
Adding a new file works just like adding a new post. You can enter a title, add a description, assign the file to a particular client or user, and finally, upload the file using the file uploader. For this tutorial, I’ll simply upload a demo photo from Pixabay:
Once the file has been uploaded, click Publish to make it accessible by your client.
Keep in mind that you can also create file categories which helps you stay organized so you can create categories for invoices, forms, contracts, design files, and more.
Step 7: Create a Private Page
The last step is to create a private page that you can use to provide your clients with a detailed description of your process, share the terms and services or any other important information they need to know about working with you.
To create a private page, go to Customer Area > Pages > Add new. From there, the process is largely similar to creating a private file. You can enter a page title, description, and assign the page to a client/user. When you’re done, click the Publish button to make it live.
Step 8: Test the Client Portal With The Demo Client
You are now ready to test out the client portal and see how your clients will see their files, pages, and account details. Simply use the demo client information to login to your site and see the client portal from their perspective.
As you can see from the screenshot below, the client can easily get an overview of all the files and pages they have access to as well as access individual files and edit their account details.
And that’s it! Now all that’s left to do is to repeat the steps above for every future client that needs a private client portal.
Creating a client portal in WordPress is not only easy but it can also save you time and money when it comes to managing your projects. Use this article as a guide to help you setup your client portal with the WP Customer Area plugin.
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