Finding the best WordPress login widget plugin should be a simple task. But when I did it today, it took longer than I expected and most of the plugins weren’t worth bothering with. I’m writing this post to share what I learned.
Having just set up a WordPress membership website using the S2Member plugin (fantastic, by the way – unlike WishList Member which is a nightmare to get right, S2Member worked first time), I wanted to add a sidebar widget allowing people to register or login. Surprisingly, no sidebar login widget is provided by S2Member so I decided to look for a plugin.
I searched the WordPress plugin repository for sidebar login widgets and tested a few. This is what I found.
Tried and failed
- Default WordPress meta widget – Bloody awful! I tried this first as it’s a principle of good WordPress web design to use built-in features where possible to avoid complicating your site with too many plugins. Unfortunately, having designed dozens of WordPress websites, I haven’t yet found a site where this widget is appropriate. Although it does the job in terms of logging in, it contains lots of irrelevant information such as ‘Entries RSS’, ‘Comments RSS’ and – in a blatant attempt at self-promotion – a link to WordPress.org. Unnecessary clutter.
- Custom WP Login Widget – 5 stars but only 4 ratings, so a bit risky. I prefer plugins to be more tried and tested than this.
- Tabbed Login Widget – This looked good and a bit unusual, with ten 5* ratings. But it generated a major error when I tried to activate it, saying the plugin file didn’t exist.
- Login-Logout – Strangely, this sidebar login widget plugin didn’t automatically display the background that is used on my other widgets. You could barely see the text against the website background. Rather than customising it, I decided to find a plugin that would do the job straight out of the box.
- Simple Login – This plugin lets you customise the login widget title and choose where to redirect users after logging in, but contains an unfortunately link to the ‘Site Admin’. This is not appropriate for websites where you don’t want users to access the WordPress back end – i.e. most professional websites. Of course you can customise the plugin to hide this, but that would prevent you from applying any future plugin updates. I wouldn’t expect to have to customise such a simple login widget plugin.
- Login with Ajax – This was the runner-up favourite WordPress login widget plugin. I like the way it uses Ajax and has a choice of options such as where to redirect the user after logging in or out. I like the way it shows the user’s profile photo, too – a nice touch. The only reason I didn’t use it is that it put a strange border around the contents which I would want to remove to look professional. I left it deactivated in case I couldn’t find anything better, but ended up improving on it with Sidebar Login.
The best WordPress login widget plugin
The WordPress login widget plugin that does the job is Sidebar Login.
Unlike most of the WordPress login widgets, a whole plugin options page is provided. This allows you to set different headings for logged in and logged out users, and set the urls that users should be redirected to after logging in and out. You can choose whether to display a register link, lost password link or the user’s Avatar (photo) in the widget. You can even add some custom links to appear at the bottom of the login widget.
The widget automatically integrated with the website theme, so it looked good straight away. The only improvement I would make is to add a space between the check box and the ‘Remember me’ button – but then again, I am a perfectionist!
So my vote is that Sidebar Login is the best WordPress login widget plugin.
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