Getting new subscribers onto your site can be one of the hardest parts of building an audience. Anything that requires people to go through a process can be a stumbling block. In this case, they need to think of a username and password (yet another password to remember), receive a notification e-mail and then confirming their subscription. With all these stumbling blocks, it’s no wonder that sign up rates are so low. Even with prompts, newsletters, and all kinds of other carrots, it remains hard.
Which is why it can make sense to allow users to use credentials that they already have and trust. Like WordPress.com. With literally dozens of millions of people having WordPress.com accounts, you can try and leverage that with your self hosted WordPress blog. Imagine if instead of signing up, people could already sign in to your site. No new username. No new password. No confirmation e-mail.
And the whole process is dead easy with a plugin you probably already have – Jetpack.
Enabling Registration on your Site
The first step of course, is to ensure that registrations are enabled on your self hosted WordPress site. To do this, go to Settings -> General, and tick the appropriate box as shown here:
Now users can register on your site from the login screen:
And if you want to place the login link on your site, you just need to select the appropriate widget from Appearance -> Widgets and put it on your site bar.
Enabling Jetpack’s Secure Sign On
If you haven’t already, download and install the Jetpack plugin on your site. Now in the plugin settings, go to the “Security” tab as shown below and enable the option for signing into your site using a WordPress.com account:
You can see that there’s an option here called “Match by E-mail”. If enabled, users who are already signed up on your site who have a WordPress account will have their accounts “merged”, so that they just need to sign up using their WordPress account instead of their local one. It’s a reasonable option to have and I suggest you keep it enabled.
Most of the work of this plugin happens out of the box without further customization. Simply by enabling this, your login screen transforms to something like this instead:
As you can see, users now have the option to sign up using their WordPress.com accounts instead of their local account if they want. This is the default behavior. However, what if you want to force users to sign in using WordPress.com instead? What if you want to delegate the ENTIRE account management process to WordPress.com? In that case, you need to add the following code to your functions.php:
add_filter( 'jetpack_sso_bypass_login_forward_wpcom', '__return_true' );
If you don’t know how to add code like this, take a look at my earlier tutorial on adding code snippets to WordPress. With this piece of code enabled, users who try and log into your site will be automatically directed to WordPress.com in order to sign in. Another side benefit of this is that the login process at WordPress.com happens securely over HTTPS instead of plain HTTP – something that your site might not have implemented on its own. By redirecting the input of sensitive data over a secure encrypted connection, you’re improving security for everyone!
Here’s what it looks like to be redirected to WordPress.com for sign in:
Finally, you can also enable two factor authentication from the settings screen. I really don’t think this is necessary for the vast majority of sites – but if you really have some kind of super sensitive info, you can consider implementing that as well.
All in all, this is a great option to have for sites that are trying to build their subscriber base. By allowing sign in using WordPress.com, you borrow all the infrastructure, best practices, and the millions upon millions of users who have already signed up for a trusted service. What’s not to like?
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