Getting started

This guide has been designed using WP Customer Area 5.0 and the TwentyTwelve+ theme. This theme is available for free and offers full compatibility with WP Customer Area, an ideal choice to quickly start building your private areas in WordPress.

Installation

To install WP Customer Area, go to Plugins > Add New and search for “WP Customer Area”.

Screenshot - Base plugin search
Finding the base WP Customer Area plugin

In the list of plugins, simply click on Install Now and wait a few seconds.

Screenshot - Base plugin installation
Installation of WP Customer Area

Once installed, click Activate plugin.

Congratulations, WP Customer Area is now successfully installed!

We must now go through some basic configuration in order to setup the plugin properly.

Initial setup

After activating the plugin, a warning message informs us that a number of actions require our attention.

Screenshot - warnings shown after activation
Warnings shown after activating WP Customer Area

Let’s click on the link to access the status page of the customer area. This page is also accessible later using the Customer Area > Status menu item.

Problem #1 – Missing Pages on the front-end

WP Customer Area needs to create some WordPress pages to display private data.

To facilitate our work, simply click on Create the missing pages and confirm via OK.

Screenshot - Creating missing pages
Automatically creating the missing pages

The following pages are then automatically created: Customer Area Home, Files, My Files, Pages, My Pages, My Account, Account Details, Edit My Account, Logout.

We can also check they are properly created and published in the Pages module of WordPress.

Problem #2 – Navigation missing

WP Customer Area has its own navigation menu that contains all pages previously created. Again, we simply need to click on the Create navigation menu link.

Once created, we can find that new menu under Appearance > Menus. In Manage Locations, note the new location called Customer Area Navigation Menu.

Screenshot - missing navigation menu
Automatically creating the missing navigation menu

For this tutorial, we recommend that you keep the menu in its default configuration – although we will be able to change it at our convenience later.

Problem #3 – Set permissions

WP Customer Area is by default configured to be accessible only to administrators. It’s up to us to define which other roles will be allowed to do in our private area. To begin with, it is recommended to set permissions for users with the subscriber role. This is the basic role in WordPress which is likely to be set for most new users.

Screenshot - Warning for permissions
The warning shown for the permissions

Thus, in Private Pages and Private Files tabs of the Permissions page, check: View private pages and/or View private files.

Screenshot - Permissions for roles
Configure the permissions for each role of your website

To finish the correction of the problem, let’s Save changes. For more information, please read the reference guide for permissions.

Problem #4 – Permalinks

By default, WP Customer Area requires the activation of URLs rewriting on your server. As a consequence, we need to change the default permalink structure configured by WordPress.

Screenshot - Default WordPress permalinks
Default WordPress permalink structure is not compatible with WP Customer Area

In most cases, this setting will have already been modified after the WordPress installation so we can ignore these instructions or just check that everything is in order.

To do this, go to Settings > Permalinks and choose the structure of your choice – except the default one.

Screenshot - Permalinks settings
Choose an SEO-friendly permalink structure

From an SEO perspective, we recommend a structure such as /%postname%/.

We can then, go back to the Status page of Customer Area. No user intervention should be required anymore. Your Customer Area is now fully functional!

Let’s see how to easily share private data with your users.

Sharing private content

Step 1 – Create a user account ‘Client’

We will simulate a basic client area with on one hand, an administrator who publishes content, and on the other hand, a client who accesses the shared content from the website (front-office).

Thus, as an administrator, let’s open the Users > Add New page and fill the form as indicated below:

  1. Username: for example, we will use ‘client’ which will be our test user
  2. E-mail: set the client’s mail. Useful for lost password.
  3. First/Last Name: fill these fields, although optional
  4. Password/Repeat password: write twice the same password
  5. Send the password: don’t check this now, unless you want the user receives his password in his mailbox
  6. Role: select Subscriber, the basic role that WordPress provides is perfect for our first private area

For more information, refer to the official documentation on WordPress Roles and Permissions.

Step 2 – Management of private content

WP Customer Area is based on custom post types to manage your private files and pages. In this way, we get a management interface that is familiar to you as it looks like the one for regular posts or pages.

Your first private file

In the Customer Area menu, click New private file.

Screenshot - creating your first private file
Creating your first private file

The WordPress content editor appears:

  1. Let’s start with a title to the private file
  2. Use the content area to enter a detailed description
  3. In the File box, we have two upload methods:
    1. Direct upload (default mode): click on the gray zone to pick a file or simply drag and from one on that zone directly from your computer
    2. Copy from FTP folder (advanced mode): to do this, we need to use an FTP client (e.g. Filezilla) to drop files into a directory defined in the WP Customer Area settings. Note that this method is particularly useful for large files and is better suited for advanced users

      Screenshot - Choosing the upload method
      Choosing the upload method
  4. In the Assingment area, indicate which user will have access to the file. This is where we will find our test user we called ‘client’

    Screenshot - Choosing the owner
    Choose the user who will be able to see and download our file
  5. Click Publish once all the required data is added. You can then click on View private file to see the final result.

Your first private page

The creation of a private page is very similar to creating a private file. Let’s go to Customer Area > New private page:

  • Give a title to your page
  • Enter the description in the content area
  • Assign it a category page (optional)
  • Assign the page to our user ‘client’ who will be able to view this private content
  • Click on Publish to validate the creation

Final Preview

WP Customer Area fits into the public part of your WordPress site and consists in an interface with a navigation menu with links to:

  • Home: this is your dashboard that lists recent files and pages which have been assigned to you
  • Files: displays a list of private files which have been assigned to you
  • Pages: displays a list of private pages which have been assigned to you
  • My Account: allows you to change your user profile and log out of the private area

If you go straight to your private area, you won’t be able to see the private file and the private page you just created. Indeed, they are private and have been assigned to our user ‘client’.

So let’s check that our user ‘client’ can see the private content that has been affected to him. To do this, logout from your website and then login as ‘client’ with the password you chose when creating it.

Screenshot - Final view of our private area
Our private area as seen by the client

We find here the private files and/or private pages that have been assigned to ‘client’ by the administrator. Everything is in order!

If this were not the case, you may try checking again the permissions and the assignment of the private content.

Conclusion

This is the end of this quick start guide for WP Customer Area. We hope it has been helpful and it brought you all you need to start using our plugin. We wish you success and pleasure in using your brand new private area.

Before going any further, you may want to read our documentation about securing your private files, this step is necessary in order to really protect the files you will upload.

If you have more specific needs, WP Customer Area is a modular plugin and with many add-ons that allow, for example, project management, private conversations, and much more.

If you still have any question, please visit our dedicated support forum.