1. Home
  2. AccessAlly
  3. The Membership Site Checklist

The Membership Site Checklist

Download the printable version of this checklist here:
Membership Site Setup Checklist

A membership site is a complex ecosystem, filled with unlimited opportunities for your business. This checklist is meant to be an aid to walk you through the basic, initial setup of your first online courses/membership area.

The checklist items are listed in chronological order. Please make sure that you follow the checklist accordingly – jumping around to later steps often results in an error if you are unfamiliar with how AccessAlly, your WordPress theme, and your CRM system work together.

Table of Contents


Stage 1: Website Prep

The first step in your membership site/online course setup is the WordPress site itself. The quality of this foundation will determine how well your site can grow and expand with your business.
Stage 1 Checklist:

  • Confirm plugin compatibility with your CRM
    AccessAlly integrates with ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, Drip, Infusionsoft, Keap, and Ontraport
  • Decide how you wish to collect payment
    AccessAlly’s built-in Order Forms integrate with Stripe and Paypal.
  • Select a hosting plan or migrate to a new hostTutorial
  • Create a new WordPress install on a subdomain for your membership siteTutorial
  • Add an SSL to your siteTutorial
  • Choose your theme and install the theme on the siteTutorial



Stage 2: Membership Plugin Setup

In this stage, you’ll install your AccessAlly membership plugin and integrate it with your CRM. The first few steps require some setup in your CRM and basic plugin installation. Then, please use the Onboarding Wizard to complete your integration and plugin setup.

Stage 2 Checklist:

  • Set up a custom field in your CRM system to store your membership users’ password.
    (The email address field will be used as their username)
    Please see your CRM’s documentation if you are unsure how to set this up.
  • Install AccessAlly and ProgressAlly plugins on your membership subdomainTutorial
  • Activate the plugins by entering your license key informationTutorial
  • Set your admin user to “all access”Tutorial
The AccessAlly Onboarding wizard (located at AccessAlly > Get Started) will take over to guide you through the following setup areas:

  • CRM IntegrationMore info here
  • Payment Options/Integrations – If using AccessAlly’s order forms, you can read these tutorials for more information on integrating with Stripe and Paypal.
  • Common Page CreationThese will be created in draft form. In STAGE 4 you will add content and publish manually.
  • Color Scheme/Design SetupMore info here
You may wish to use a different payment processor instead of working with AccessAlly’s order forms. If you opt for an alternative system, PLEASE BE CERTAIN THAT IT INTEGRATES WITH YOUR CRM. The integration must be able to create users and issue tags in the CRM itself if you want it to work with your AccessAlly membership site.

We do not provide support for alternative options.


Stage 3: Design Your Course

In this stage, you’ll get your online course content written, prepared, and ready to go. This is typically the longest stage of any membership site build. Leave ample time for content revisions when planning your launch date.

Please note that all content should be completed before moving onto Stage 4 (creating the course inside AccessAlly).

Stage 3 Checklist:

  • Create a map of your online course – Template
  • Write out your content material
    This should include written content, video scripts, checklists, quiz questions, etc.
  • Design your course look and feelTutorial
  • Choose whether your course will be built on a Standalone versus Stage-Release model
  • Design your course iconsDownload our Icon Templates



Stage 4: Customize Common Pages

Now, you can add your own content and design to the “Common Pages” that were created by the AccessAlly Onboarding Wizard in the previous step. These can be found in your WordPress site under Pages > All Pages.

Stage 4 Checklist:

  • Login Page (Tutorial)
  • Dashboard (this will be a partial setup. As you create your courses, you will add the icons and names to those here) (Tutorial)
  • My Account
  • Payments/My Orders – You can use this page to show a client’s payment history (Tutorial) or enable them to update and manage their credit card info (Tutorial)
  • FAQ page – used to give general guidance to your users
  • Contact page – provide users a way to get in touch with you


Stage 5: The Course Creation Wizard

Here, you’ll use the AccessAlly Course Creation Wizard to create your online course. The Wizard will take care of creating the pages and permission tags.
Stage 5 Checklist:
Go to AccessAlly > Course Wizard and use the wizard to configure your course. Please know ahead of time what you wish to include in the following areas:

  • Type of Course (Standalone vs Stage Release)
  • Title of Course
  • Enabled/Disabled Course Icons
  • Sales Page for Course (if any)
  • Number of Pages
  • Permission & Revoke Tags for your CRM (these will be created by the Course Creation Wizard)

Keep Track of Tags Using the Course Map PDF

The Course Wizard will auto-create the permission (and revoke) tags that will be used in your CRM automations. Many course creators find it helpful to have a physical record of their tags as well, by printing out our Course Map PDF and keeping it handy.
The Checklist
At the end of the Course Wizard, you’ll come to a checklist. Please keep this checklist handy, as it will also guide you through the next few stages of setup.



Stage 6: Design & Add Course Content

In the previous stage, you created the pages and permission for your online course. Now, it’s time to add content and design to these pages.
Stage 6 Checklist:

  • Upload course videos to: Vimeo, YouTube, or Wistia
  • To design the look and feel of your pages,you can create your own theme layouts or import ones that are already designed – Tutorial
    AccessAlly incldues templates for Divi and Headway Themes.
  • Add content to your course pages
    Once done, publish the pages.
  • Configure progress tracking for your pages (if using AccessAlly Pro) – Tutorial



Stage 7: Create Opt Ins and Order Forms

In this stage, you will set up the order forms (if you’re selling paid courses), or opt-in forms (if you’re creating free courses).

Stage 7 Checklist:

I am making a free course:

Follow the tutorial here to offer a free course to your students – Tutorial

I want to sell courses individually:

  • Step 1: Create a Product – Tutorial
  • Step 2: Create Your Order Form Offers – Tutorial
  • Step 3: Create your order page, using the shortcode
  • Optional: To customize the appearance of your order forms, you can follow these steps – Tutorial

I want to sell membership subscriptions to give people access to my courses:

  • Step 1: Create a Product – Tutorial
  • Step 2: Create Your Order Form Offers – Tutorial
  • Step 3: Create your order page, using the shortcode
  • Optional: To customize the appearance of your order forms, you can follow these steps – Tutorial
  • Want to offer a payment plan or subscriptions? Check out this tutorial – Tutorial



Stage 8: CRM Automations

In this stage, you’ll create all of the automations required for your membership site. Please note that every action you wish to be automated MUST be specified inside your CRM.

If you have two courses that you want to release automatically when a user purchases access, for example, you must create two separate automations inside your CRM.

Although we have a wide variety of tutorials to help you set up your courses, please know that you must be familiar with your CRM to set it up properly. If a single step is configured improperly inside your CRM automation, the two systems cannot communicate properly.

Before you begin, please read this tutorial for more information: Your Guide To Creating CRM Automations

Looking for pre-built automations? We currently have free templates available for:

Stage 8 Checklist:

Course Release Automations:

  • How to set up a release automation for a Standalone course – Tutorial
  • How to set up a release automation for a Stage-released or dripped course – Tutorial

Additional Automations You May Wish to Configure:


Stage 9: Create a Test User

In this stage, you’ll do a final run-through of your membership site, making sure your automations and pages are set up properly from start to finish.

Stage 9 Checklist:

  • To plan for the end-user experience, creating a test user allows to you test your new course (and automation) – Tutorial

Some testing best practices include:

  • Start with the initial opt-in or purchase, and follow all of the steps as a “normal” user would.
  • Be sure to use a unique email address that has not been used to view the course
  • Once all testing is done, be sure to cancel your payment and refund or cancel the subscription to avoid any recurring charges for this test user by following the guide here.

You can review the full AccessAlly Troubleshooting Guide here.

Stage 10: Add More Courses (optional)

This is an OPTIONAL stage. If you have more than one course to add to your membership area, you can create them by repeating Stages 5 – 9.



Stage 11: Interactive Dashboard

Congratulations on all your hard work, now it is time put the final touches together. In Stage 5 you began to set up your dashboard page. How, you can add any course icons you need to this page. Each course should have its own icon. This is also your opportunity to do a final check, making sure all course pages are published and all features are applied to the pages.
Stage 11 Checklist

  • Add course icons to your dashboard page – Tutorial


Stage 12: Make It Live


It’s time to launch! Celebrate as you are ready to release your content to the world!

Updated on August 5, 2019

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles


If you have any questions, we're just an email away at your@accessally.com.

We take your success seriously, and you'll always get a speedy reply from a real person during business hours.

AccessAlly is the #1 WordPress Course and Membership Solution for Industry Leaders


You'll get follow-up emails about AccessAlly and new features. Opt out anytime. Full privacy policy here.