There are a variety of reasons to protect your website or parts of it:
- you would like to share photos with your friends,
- you want to show work in progress to different clients (e.g. a designer or a photographer),
- your goal is to make content available exclusively to members (paid or unpaid), for example, via a membership website with individual logins,
- you want to set up a social platform where members can communicate with each other.
But how can this be done in an easy way? Read on to learn more about the different options you have:
1. Simple password protection
With this method, you’ll provide a single password for all visitors, and you can choose the pages you want to protect. You’ll see this method on site builder tools like Weebly and Wix (in addition to this method they both also offer a membership module).
Check out this video to see how Weebly's password protection works:
With Weebly, you choose one password for the entire site:
Check out this video to learn how Wix’s password protection works:
Pros: easy to set up, little administration
Cons: no control over who has access to the site (password can be shared, and there is no personal login), no password recovery mechanism, everybody has the same level of access.
2. Protected areas for different customer groups with different passwords.
This solution allows you to create individual areas with selected pages for your clients. You cannot create user names, so the user just needs the password to gain access. This is the method used by Jimdo, 1&1, and Squarespace (here you can’t really define password areas of more than one pages – it’s one password per page).
Pros: easy to set up, you can assign protected areas for different groups of customers
Cons: no control over who has access to the site (password can be shared, and there is no personal login), no password recovery mechanism
With Squarespace, you can choose a different password for each page but you cannot create individual areas like you can with Jimdo.
Check out this video to see Jimdo's private areas in action:
Jimdo allows you to create several “page bundles” for various customer groups, each protected with a different password. In Jimdo Pro, the limit is five protected areas. In Jimdo Business, there's no limit (even in the free version you can create one protected area).
3. Members areas with personal login
Users have their own login to the website and can access protected areas within it. This allows you to share exclusive content such as video courses, ebooks or premium articles or subscriptions with your members. The payment process has to be set up separately, though.
Pros: Good control of authorized users, users can be added/removed individually, users can signup themselves, password recovery is available
Cons: more administrative work
Check out this video to see Weebly's Membership in action:
Screenshot of Weebly's membership management
4. Membership site with user management (social network, forum)
Users can interact with each other. Share thoughts, pictures, links, etc. very difficult, effectively creating a fully functioning social network. Webs.com can act as a small social network; Ning offers a full-blown community. In addition to that, there are also a number of WordPress plugins that can help you run your own social community. Learn more in our WordPress beginners guide.
Pros: Best solution for interaction in a private /exclusive environment, better data protection (compared to Facebook), Existing Facebook-logins can be used to sign up (Facebook connect)
Cons: A lot of administrative work, considerable effort required to start the service
Members profiles at Webs.com
Website builders offer pretty powerful features to create password-protected websites or membership areas, and most of all, they are fairly easy to set up.
Before you get started, however, you should have a clear plan that details exactly what you want to achieve.
Ask yourself whether you have the time or resources to manage a social network. Is your goal to provide a platform that enables members to communicate with each other, or do you just want to provide access to VIP content?
In many cases, password-protected areas, or a membership area, will be enough. If you want to create a social network, expect to invest a lot of energy into it to get it off the ground.
As an alternative, consider creating a private group on Facebook or LinkedIn. The advantage is that people are already on these platforms, and that means less set-up time and less administrative burden. However, using a third-party provider also comes with limitations. You won’t be in complete control of your data, and there’s an inherent risk that your chosen provider will close down at some point in the future.
> To find out more about Webs, Jimdo, Squarespace and Weebly, please take a look at our detailed website builder reviews.
And if you have any questions, please leave a comment.