A top-notch theme is a key part of making your membership site stand out and really shine. For most people, picking the theme is one of the first things you do when building your membership site.
Remember, you’re not stuck with one theme for the rest of eternity. Even if you have a theme you’ve been working with for many years, you can always trade it out for a better one with minimal effort. So don’t be afraid to experiment.
What makes a good theme?
A good theme must follow WordPress’ development standards to avoid conflicts with other plugins. It should also load fast.
A lot of your customers may access your site on a phone or a tablet. You would want to make sure your website is mobile responsive, loads fast and is user friendly on any modern smart phone.
You might be worrying that you’ll have to pay to use a good theme, but the good news is that’s not necessarily true. Some WordPress themes carry a price tag, many high quality themes are actually free (or have free versions) that we’ll cover here.
Membership Site Themes for WordPress
There’s a lot of themes you can choose from, possibly too many. So we’ve done the heavy lifting for you. We’ve compiled our top 5 picks for WordPress themes that you can use to build your membership site with.
1. Astra + Elementor Combined with Memberium’s Elementor Page Templates
Astra bills itself as being one of the faster options out there. This theme is all about getting the look you want quickly and easily. There are deeper customizable options within Astra, but the basic, surface level template design is all very streamlined and efficient.
Astra is completely code-free, meaning you can spruce up your templates to your heart’s content without having to write a single line.
Astra is free, although some content and options are gated behind the “Pro” membership paywall.
Astra only needs 50 KB of resources, which is less than half of what many other template themes require. It’s easy on your system and it’s easy on you.
Made for page builders
Tools like Beaver Builder, Elementor, WooCommerce and LearnDash are all fair game, Astra can handle them all without a hitch.
BuddyBoss is exactly what it sounds like: WordPress themes made for internet courses. Buddyboss delivers a highly functional (and beautiful) product with full LearnDash support.
Buddyboss helps site owners implement social learning within their communities. This means you’ll have access to all the tools that allow you to gather data while encouraging your members to interact and support one another.
And great news for any LearnDash users, BuddyBoss is thinking of you! The BuddyBoss theme was designed with LearnDash support in mind. Out of the box it looks amazing!
Buddyboss is the most concentrated option on this list. While normally we praise versatility, sometimes it’s good to focus, and BuddyBoss is about as focused as you can possibly get. It’s been built from the ground up with membership sites and online courses in mind. All the tools, theme elements and functions are meant for people running these kinds of sites.
Of course, BuddyBoss works great with Memberium and we recommend them if you’re wanting to build a social focused membership or online course.
BuddyBoss is a premium theme, but the money is well worth it if the style they provide is what you’re looking for. You’d pay significantly more to get the looks and functionality custom coded.
3. Hello Elementor (Combined with Memberium’s Elementor Page Templates)
Hello Elementor isn’t anything too fancy.
In fact, it’s WordPress listing even describes it as “plain vanilla and lightweight”. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use, no-frills theme to combine with Memberium’s Elementor page templates, then this is your go-to.
Hello Elementor isn’t a theme like the other themes. It essentially satisfies WordPress’s requirement for a theme and that is it. No “features”, frills, or really anything. All customizations of your site will be done in Elementor. If you’re wanting to use Elementor this is the theme for you.
Because it essentially does nothing, it is extremely fast and lightweight. The heavy lifting will be done by Elementor.
The best part: it’s free!
OptimizePress 3 puts a lot of emphasis on the sales aspect of your site. There are a lot of handy marketing tools built into this theme. OptimizePress 3 helps you create the perfect landing page and offers an array of options from creating long form sales pages to lead magnet opt-ins and more.
OptimizePress 3 was designed with membership sites and online courses in mind (although perhaps not as much as the BuddyBoss theme). In fact, membership sites are featured prominently in their sales pitch. This means you’re not trying to remold a template to fit your needs, with OptimizePress 3 you’re working with a theme designed for your specific business.
Yet this doesn’t mean OptimizePress 3 lacks versatility. The expansive suite of design options allows for extensive customization of everything from color schemes to landing page layouts.
OptimizePress 3 is easy to use. There’s no coding knowledge or website-building experience required. You can get a sleek-looking site just by using the template’s easy-to-use design tools.
OptimizePress 3 does have a price tag attached to it. Premium prices range from $100 to $200.
5. OceanWP + Elementor Combined with Memberium’s Elementor Page Templates
Another free option. OceanWP bills itself as a sleek and fun WordPress theme built for the professional, the hobbyist and everyone in between. This one is pretty similar to Astra in design and implementation, priding speed and ease-of-use.
There are also paid options with OceanWP, if you find you like the layouts but want more variety.
OceanWP focuses a lot on search engine optimization. The template demos have been constructed with SEO best practices in mind. Remember that SEO is more than just words and outbound links, the placement of page components makes a difference, as well. OceanWP might be a good base for you if you’re looking to organically boost your SEO a bit without revamping your content.
OceanWP’s other big draw is the attention paid to responsiveness. OceanWP works just as well on tablets and mobile phones as it does on desktops.
OceanWP is very friendly with Elementor, which makes it a perfect match for Memberium users using our page templates and recommended site builder.
Picking the theme that’s right for you
So how do you make sure you won’t be wasting time messing around with themes you don’t like? It may seem like you have to dive in blind, but with some careful planning, you can approach theme choice the same way you began building your WordPress site: with care. Here we’ve come up with the single most important tip for helping you cut through the selection process:
Pick your features ahead of time.
Don’t wait for the theme to tell you what you want for your site. Take a moment to decide what matters most for your program. Do you have a specific font or color scheme in mind? Do you need a theme that looks good on mobile? Come up with all your “must haves” before you start digging too deep into different themes. Usually a quick glance at the theme’s advertising page will tell you whether or not your needs will be met.
Remember, this is the face of your membership site. Don’t settle.
On the flip side, don’t take forever to pick your theme and delay launching your membership site. Remember, you can always switch themes down the road.
What’s the difference between a free theme and the free version of a priced theme?
You may be wondering why so many of our “free” choices have higher price tiers attached to them when there are so many completely free themes out there. This is because, while many free themes are great, they do carry the risk of developer abandonment. Themes that have priced versions are much less likely to be deserted by their creators and typically have decent customer support.
Which themes integrate with Memberium?
All of the options we’ve laid out here are completely compatible with Memberium. No matter which one you choose, you can still count on our unparalleled membership site building tools. Think of these five themes as different candied cherry options to top off your deliciously prepared WordPress site.
Memberium works with almost every WordPress theme. This is because Memberium itself doesn’t control the look and feel of your site, we protect your content and provide integration with your CRM.
So whether you’re constructing a whole new site or just giving your old one a bit of a facelift, consider taking one of these five themes out for a spin. And remember that no matter which one you choose, Memberium will make sure all your needs are met.