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Dec 6

The best WordPress login widget plugin

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 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.

Best WordPress login widgetUnlike 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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About the author

Project manager at Barn2 Media, Katie is a WordPress web designer who specialises in helping companies to build their online presence. She'll help you get the most out of WordPress and the web.


Add your commentComments (12)

  1. Greg, October 16, 2013
    I agree with the conclusion about Sidebar Login, as well as the approach that it should provide almost all functionality out of the box, withstanding upgrades. One item I found missing from Sidebar was OpenID integration. The standard WP login screen has nice OpenID elements. I ended up putting a link in Sidebar setup, in the Logged out section, in case someone wanted to use OpenID: Login with OpenID | /wp-login.php Reply
  2. Gad, October 2, 2013
    try this: Reply
  3. Thibault, August 19, 2013
    Thanks very much. But how change blue color of link after login ? Reply
    • Katie, August 20, 2013
      Hi, the Sidebar Login widget uses colours and stylings set by your website's theme. You might need to get a WordPress web designer to make any styling changes as the plugin doesn't have its own settings for this. Reply
  4. Miriam, May 17, 2013
    Wow, thanks Katie. I've just spent a couple of hours doing similar research although I hadn't gotten as far as actually installing and testing anything. I'll definitely give Sidebar Login a try. One you know whether this plug-in is compatible with any of the social media login plugins out there? I'd like to add the feature of allowing folks to use their FB credentials to login. Thanks so much for doing this research and for sharing! Reply
    • Katie, May 20, 2013
      Hi Miriam, I'm glad this article was helpful to you. I haven't actually tried Sidebar Login with a social media login plugin - I tend to avoid these because of the issues you get when users delete their social media accounts, which also locks them out of any websites they have logged in to via their social accounts. The plugin author should be able to tell you whether this is possible. Reply
  5. Antoine, February 13, 2013
    Thanks Katie, its amaizing what you find with google..... just what I was looking for. I too have just set up my brother's site and am using the S2Member plugin (free) and was looking for something similar to the Pro widget for the login. I wonder if you can help me with the Profile Picture for the members using S2Member . I found a plugin Metronet Profile Picture which works well with the wordpress backend to load profile pictures and also allows users to overide avatar. Do you know if there is a way I can include the profile pic field in the s2Member Profile update without going to the wordpress backend. This would be a great plus as I feel this is one of the big weaknesses of wordpress. Reply
    • Katie, March 3, 2013
      Hi Antoine, thanks for your reply, I'm glad the post was useful to you. I used the Sidebar Login plugin with an s2Member site and it automatically displays the user's Avatar in the widget, although I'm not aware of a way to override the Avatar. The good thing about Sidebar Login is that it allows you to enter code into the plugin settings which gives you more flexibility. I hope this helps. Reply
  6. Keely, January 6, 2013
    Nice post. I too have been playing around with login/logout and found this plugin at the wordpress plugins site - Sideways8 Custom Login and Registration I installed the Sidebar Login plugin and the Sideways8 Custom Login and Registration redirects you to a page rather than the wordpress default pages. So far it's working well locally, so I will add both plugins to my live site. Reply
    • Katie, January 11, 2013
      Thanks Keely, I hadn't come across Sideways8 so that's a useful one to add to the list. Reply
  7. Don, December 23, 2012
    Hoping to EMBED login IN my landing page so I don't have to display sidebar OR widget areas in Twenty Twelve child I am working on. Can Sidebar Login (or other) accomplish this? Thanks for your help! / Don Reply
    • Katie, December 28, 2012
      Hi Don, all of these plugins are designed to add a login form via a widget, so you do need a widget area to put it in. However, the Widgets on Pages WordPress plugin allows you to insert a widget into the body of any page or post, rather than having to display a sidebar. I'm not aware of any plugins that allow you to embed a login form directly into a landing page so you might need a custom WordPress plugin for this - get in touch if you'd like to talk through the options in more detail. Reply

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