Podcast Episode

384 – Password Protecting WordPress

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Password Protecting WordPress

Reasons to protect a site:

  • Exclusivity
  • Privacy
  • Sensitive Content
  • Educational Setting
  • Special Events
  • Paid Memberships
  • Private sales page
  • NDA exclusive content
  • Internal network

How to protect a site:

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Full Transcript

Business Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.

On today’s episode we are going to talk about different options for how to protect a WordPress website with passwords, right here on Your Website Engineer podcast, Episode No. 384. Hello, and welcome to another episode of Your Website Engineer Podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler and I’m excited to be here with you today because this week we’re talking about passwords and password-protecting sites, both on a page level and a complete site level. Before we dive in, I want to share two announcements and a plugin of the week. The first announcement is to go back and download last week’s episode. Last week we talked about how to remove a WordPress Plugin from the WordPress database and from your WordPress installation and just make everything work so much cleaner and smoother. I feel like it was one of my better episodes in the last few weeks. It was just really exciting and there was a LOT of information, jampacked full of a lot of things.

The problem was when I released the podcast episode last week there was an accidental apostrophe in the URL, which is not allowed. You can’t have apostrophes in URL’s and I didn’t notice that when I pasted it into the Smart Podcast Player. For any podcast catcher that’s out there, so like Overcast or Pocket Casts or the Apple iTunes Podcast App. So, if you are interested in hearing more about how to remove a WordPress Plugin correctly and properly, then you will want to go ahead and download 383, that’s Episode No. 383, to hear all about that. Fingers crossed that will never happen again. I think I understand what I did and I’ll make sure that it doesn’t happen again. The other news that I want to share with you this week is about a new – it’s a new Word Camp Organizer and it’s in the planning stages. So, this is something – there’s an article over on WP Tavern. It’s linked in the show notes, of course.

But this is an event that’s being planned and it’s just to give organizers, or Word Camp organizers, a conference, if you will. So, it’s how to plan Word Camp better, how to organize Word Camps better. So, this is something that is just in the starting stages. If you want more information head on over to that WP Tavern article and you can find out more over there. So, those were the two announcements that I have to share with you this week. A plugin that I want to share with you this week is called CakePress Scroll to Top and it’s tagged the most comprehensive scroll to top plugin in the universe. Now, who wouldn’t want to install the best scroll to top plugin in the universe? This provides an intuitive button on each page at the bottom with one click.

Your readers will be back to the top of the page. That’s fully customized from within the WordPress Customizer and you can change almost any setting, even upload your own custom image. So, this one is pretty close to the best one in the universe. I haven’t seen any other scroll to top plugins that, one, have the customization features that this one does and to be able to customize within in the customizer. I think that is a really huge step and a huge piece that you can do this right inside the customizer. So, that’s what the plugin of the week that I want to share with you and if you do need something to get people back to the top of your website and you want a little bit of adjustment features or you want to add your own custom image or just want to make it appear when you’re all the way at the bottom. Whatever you want to do, you will want to go ahead and check out this plugin. It’s called CakePress Scroll to Top. All right, today let’s go ahead and dive in about password-protecting websites. First, I’m going to cover WHY you may want to password-protect a website. Then we’ll talk about a few different options and a few different ways that you can go ahead and protect your website. So, it makes it sound counterintuitive to actually create a website that’s so accessible to everyone in the world through your domain but then you restrict access and you don’t let people see either certain pages or certain sections of your website, or even your entire website at all. So, there are a couple of different reasons. There are nine reasons that we’re going to go through of why you may want to password-protect a website.

The first one is privacy. You know, you may want to just keep it away from people, you know, keep prying eyes off. Maybe a new piece of innovative technology or you’re trying to set up a patent or you’re securing a patent. Maybe you’re setting up a website TO secure a patent and you want to have that website all available for people to see but then you only give the password to the people that are reviewing your patent application. That’s a great way to build a website. Maybe the privacy is more along the lines of you want to keep, I don’t know, just whatever you’re working on, hidden or private. You may want to – even thinking building a new website for a customer or creating a secondary website because this is their brand-new site and their regular site will be live. You may want to just password-protect that buildable site that you’re working on so that the regular customers do not see that website.

So, that’s another reason that you could. So, just keeping it private and making sure that only people that need to see it have that access to see it. Maybe exclusivity is another reason. While you may not run into this often within WordPress, you may create a website for personal reasons, or a highly-contained audience, that may be totally exclusive to a particular group. Maybe it’s a site built for friends or family to gather or share pictures or communicate. Or maybe it’s for a small group within your church setting or, you know, a group of friends that have a basketball league, or whatever the case may be. There could be some exclusivity that’s built in that only a handful of people need to know and see this website. So, that could be another reason that you could password-protect your website.

The third one is probably the one that you think of first and that is for paid privilege. So, this is basically if you’re trying to create an area on your site that can be accessed only by paying members. So, this is like the membership sites that are out there. There’s hundreds and hundreds and thousands of websites that are out there. You may have experienced this if you signed up at a gym or spa. They usually have a special area on your site where you can explore and sign up for their services, classes, etcetera. I’m thinking through like the process that my wife and I are going through in building a new house. There is a section inside the Homeowner’s Association that we can log in and we can see documents that are only accessible for those who are in the Homeowner’s Association. So, that’s another reason. It’s not necessarily paid but, I guess, that one would probably fit back into the exclusivity bucket, but a paid privilege. I guess I am paying to be in that Homeowner’s Association so I can get access to those documents. Another reason you may possibly password-protect a page is for restricted events. Not every WordPress page needs to be shared with the public, especially if this gives – you know, maybe if you’re selling something or you have an exclusive offer for something. Maybe you’re at an event and you’re giving away books for people that are in the audience and you can generate or navigate them to a password-protected page on your website where they can get a free download or a free this or whatever the case may be. So, that would be a reason for restricted events. It would be exclusive things that would go with a launch or like for you listeners of Your Website Engineer Podcast No. 384, you can go over to this specific URL and then you can get this 10-page eBook or this 100-page free gift, or whatever, and here is the password.

Then I could say it on the podcast and it would be restricted to just those people who have listened to the podcast episode. Reason No. 5 would be to secure sensitive content. So, this would be for if bloggers or family members were writing content that’s not suitable for all ages, they can password-protect certain posts. May be if you’re trying to cover something that’s inappropriate for a younger audience or maybe they’re not ready to share with everybody, or you just wanted to keep that sensitive information away from the entire world and keep it away from the entire internet. That’s No. 5. No. 6 is educational information or an educational environment. There could be some educational materials or resources, a forum that you want to restrict to a certain set of people or set of individuals on a WordPress site.

Say you’ve built a website for a teacher, or a class, and you want to ensure that outsiders aren’t able to access proprietary materials. You know, you want to make sure that you keep anybody that’s not a student or a parent away from that site, especially if students are sharing personal information or personal details. You want to make sure that people are excluded or only the right people have access to the website. No. 7 is internal communication, so sometimes the are WordPress websites that are built for private company operations and communications. If this is the case, you may find it beneficial to make the entire site password-protected to block off certain areas or block off different roles or accesses. You can use this on a regular company website and so the regular company website is all accessible by the public. Then there’s a certain area that is restricted to employees.

So, like an employee portal where people can go in or log hours or request time off or things like that. So, that could be all password-protected where the public doesn’t need to be able to access that company portal information. Another one could be for private sales. This is for artists or photographers who create content and need a secure place to upload and share it with their clients. So, for example, think about a photographer who just shot a wedding. He or she doesn’t want to force the client to view thousands and thousands of photos of ALL the weddings that they’ve ever shot. Maybe they want to send them to a specific link and say, “Here’s your page and here’s your password.” Then you can go ahead and download ALL the images because you’ve paid for them. Then in this case, as me as the person who got the wedding photos taken, I can share that link with other people and the passwords and so other people could download them as well. So, that would be another reason, a private sale environment. The last one is for NDA restrictions. I don’t think you’ll see this one too much as a WordPress developer but there could be cases where you’ve worked with somebody and you’ve created a website that maybe is a private website and you want to highlight this as part of your portfolio on your website but you can’t let the entire public see this piece of technology that you’ve built because it’s got the inventor’s name on it or a high-profile company or individual that you built the website for. So, maybe you password-protect some of the features that you’ve built in their website and you can give this to potential clients only.

Maybe you’ve got it password-protected so that you can show ONLY people that you are already working with and you just want to show some of the functionality that you’ve built already in the past for somebody else. So, that could be another reason. I’m sure there’s other reasons that are out there but those were the nine that I came up with for why and the reasons that you could create a password-protected part of your website. Now, how do you want to protect your website? That’s the next piece. If you decide you need it, now you have to kind of think through how do you want it to work? Do you want an entire post or an entire page? Is that the only thing that needs to be password-protected? Or do we need an entire category? Do all the categories need a password?

Do the passwords need to be the same per individual? Do they need to be logged in? You know, can it be one password that anybody can access? Is it the entire website? Does the entire website need to be password-protected with a unique password for everybody, or a single password? So, you need to think through ALL of these settings. The easiest way for password-protecting a post or a page is inside WordPress in the WordPress Visibility settings, and there is a section right above the publish button that says visibility and you click on the edit link and you have the ability to make it public or password-protected. Then the password-protected part basically means you add a password and you have to give that password to whoever that you want to access that page. It’s going to be the same password for everybody.

So, that’s completely built in with WordPress. If that’s the solution you’re looking for, that would be perfect. I can see this working really well for building a page for a wedding photographer and then they can embed all the images on that certain page and they can say, okay, here’s your link and here’s the password and you can call it, you know, hearts or wedding is the password or whatever you think that would be an appropriate password. So, that would work. I’m trying to think of other things. I think back in the day when I was selling paid tutorials, I would basically send people an email pdf of, kind of here’s how to log in and it was basically a password-protected page. So, everybody got the same password and then the pdf was just telling people what the password was and how to log in and save the information. So, that’s another way.

You could just give access to everybody. Everybody has access to look at the page but then it shows, oh, this is a password-protected page and then they’ll be moved around the rest of your website. Let’s see – the other ways that you can do it is you can password-protect the directory. So, if you wanted to do this you could do some protection within your hosting file, within you host. Your immediate host should be able to – there are some password-protected plugins that are out there that will put a password protection over your entire website without having to log into your web hosting or your control panel to do this. It’s easy. It gives you a small handful of options to choose from and who can see this screen. This is something you can do, you know, you can use this, you can use the Coming Soon Plugins. Those can be good for different things but the Password-Protected Plugin is what it’s called and it’s a very minimalistic design and you just ask for a password before you’re able to see the site. You can password-protect your route directory. You may see this sometimes with staging sites.

I know that if you go to WP Engine or Flywheel, both of those, if you create a staging site and you try to view that staging site it’s going to ask you for a user name and password FIRST before you can see what’s going on, on the website. I see this a lot in WooCommerce support that somebody has created an area on their website or they’ve created that duplicate site so that we can do some testing and some troubleshooting. From there, you know, we go to look at the site and we can’t get in. It’s because they put this – on the server level they have created this. The staging site does this automatically but you could do this by logging into your C Panel and then adding this. I believe you can do this via the .htaccess file and it basically will ask you for a user name and password for anybody trying to view the site at all.

So, that’s another way that you could do it. You can use a plugin called Password-Protected Category Page. It’s a premium WordPress Plugin and you can block and entire category of content on your website. So, this is a good in-between solution if you don’t want to block ALL users from your website but you need something a little bit expansive than just the post or page password-protected areas. You can also install a membership plugin or, you know, there’s Restrict Content Pro and there’s Membership 2 Pro and there’s WooCommerce Memberships. There’s a ton of them that are out there. There’s even WP-Members Membership Plugin on the WordPress Repository. You can use all of those plugins to set up different privileges for individuals.

Now, to use a Membership Plugin it’s going to be a little bit more complex because they’re going to have to register for a membership and then have their own unique user name and password on your website. So, it’s little extra steps but it’s something that could be done and it’s a definite option that’s out there for people wanting to secure parts of their website. Membership Plugins are really good at securing certain sections of a website. So, you can have an entire – you know, your main website is completely accessible by everyone and then you can password-protect certain posts or pages or whatever the content may look like. Sometimes people will password-protect HALF of the content. So, they’ll put the teaser content out there and it will say click here to log into read the rest of the post.

You can do all of that with these Membership Plugins. It varies on what they do and how they work and so it’s just a matter of going through and checking through the different Membership Plugins to see which one has ALL the features that you’re looking for. There’s also a plugin call Password-Protect Plugin and it’s by the WPMU DEV Team and this plugin is one of the only ones that gives you granular control over password-protecting individual pieces of content within a page or post. So, that doesn’t mean they have to be subscribed or a paying member to an access site. They just need to have a password and so like the membership piece that we were talking about earlier where you can have the memberships have access and show only portions of content, this password-protect by the WPMU DEV Team gives you that same ability without people having to have a membership. It says click here to use the password to read the rest of content.

That’s something that would be perfect for a podcast episode and giving away show notes or giving away different details and letting those details verbally tell people what a password is and then they can log in and they can see the rest of the information when they put the password in on the page. That plugin is easy to use. You can prevent certain users from watching a video embedded on one of your posts. You’ve got a lot of control there with that plugin as well. Get all of these links for all of the recommendations I just shared here in the podcast are in the show notes for Episode No. 384 and this is something just to think about. It’s not mandatory to have a password-protected area on your website. It’s completely not necessary at all but there are certain areas, or there’s may be certain times that you may want to consider having password protection and verification before people can access pieces of your website.

So, think about that in the weeks to come as you’re building your website. That’s what I wanted to share with you this week. Take care and we’ll talk again soon. Bye-bye.

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