There are lots of reasons why you might want to lock down areas of a WooCommerce website. You might have a public online shop and a private e-commerce area for your trade distributors or wholesalers. You might upload products for a specific customer that aren’t available to your other customers. You might have a members-only online shop.
In the past, the options for protecting areas of your WooCommerce online shop were limited. There were a few workarounds you could try. Such as password protecting individual products. Which means that customers have to re-enter a password for every single product they want to view. Or inserting specific products into a password protected page via a shortcode. Also not ideal because your ‘hidden’ products would still show up on your main Shop page. However, there was no way to password protect entire WooCommerce categories, which was a big gap for many e-commerce websites.
In this article, I will introduce you to the new WooCommerce Password Protected Categories plugin.
The title of this plugin is self-explanatory – it allows you to password protect categories in WooCommerce. It does this by adding a password protection option to the Product Categories page, enabling you to enter a password for any WooCommerce category.
To use the plugin on a WooCommerce website, all you have to do is install and activate WooCommerce Password Protected Categories, go to Products > Categories in the WordPress admin and set a password for the categories you want to protect.
But it doesn’t stop there. Here are just some of the features that are built into WooCommerce Password Protected Categories. These features work together to make your protected WooCommerce categories user-friendly for your customers.
1. Automatically protect products and sub-categories
Once you have password protected a WooCommerce category, all the products within that category – AND any child categories – are automatically protected with the same password. This lets you create more complex navigation structures for your protected online shop.
Once a customer enters the password for a category, all the products in that category and any sub-categories are unlocked too. This is much better than password protecting individual products because customers only have to enter the password once, which is more user-friendly. They can then navigate freely within your private category and any sub-categories.
2. Choose the visibility of your protected categories & products
By default, the WooCommerce Password Protected Categories plugin shows your protected categories – and products within these categories – on your main Shop page, widgets (e.g. Recent Products) and in the navigation menu (if you have added the products or category to the menu).
You can use the plugin settings page to change the visibility. If you untick the relevant box, then the protected categories and their products will be hidden from the main Shop page, widgets, navigation menu, etc.
This is the most secure way to create password protected product categories in WooCommerce. People will only be able to find the login page for each category if they have the link for it. You can link to it from appropriate places – for example, to add a ‘Trade login’ link to your password protected trade-only categories in the header of your website – but it won’t appear anywhere on your main shop.
If you have public and private areas of your WooCommerce store, then it’s unprofessional for the two to be mixed up, which is a big problem when you just protect individual products. By using the WooCommerce Password Protected Categories plugin, you can keep your public, and private shops separate without any overlap.
3. It covers for your mistakes
As any WooCommerce store owner will know, products can be added to multiple categories. When adding or editing a product, you simply tick the box for each category that you would like the product to appear in.
If you make a mistake and accidentally put a product in both a public and a password protected category, the plugin will automatically password protect the product and hide it from the public shop (if you have ticked this option in the plugin settings – see point 2). This helps to prevent any embarrassing mistakes or security issues, keeping your protected products hidden.
4. Works with different WordPress themes
WooCommerce Password Protected Categories is a lightweight plugin and makes use of the features built into WordPress where possible. Instead of adding its own ‘This category is password protected’ page where customers can enter the password, it uses the built-in password protection page that comes with your theme. This means that whether you password protect a page, post, product or category, your customers will see the same page.
Most WordPress themes already include styling for the password protection page, and if you’re not happy with the layout, then it can be changed with a bit of CSS.
The WooCommerce Password Protected Categories plugin has been tested with many different themes. If your theme uses the standard WooCommerce ‘hooks’ in its template files then the plugin will work correctly – this applies to most WooCommerce-compatible themes. If your theme is bespoke or heavily customized, then some of these hooks may be missing, in which case a bit of work may be required to get the password protected categories working correctly.
5. Bonus feature – Private WooCommerce categories
As well as the ability to create password protected categories, the plugin has the option to mark a WooCommerce category as Private. This works in the same way as private WordPress pages and posts. Private categories are only visible if you’re logged into the website as an Editor or Administrator.
Private WooCommerce categories are likely to be less popular than password protected categories. However, they are appropriate for some online stores.
Is it a Reputable Plugin?
When choosing a WordPress plugin, it’s important to consider the quality, support and whether the author will continue to support it into the future. Anyone can write a WordPress plugin and to keep your website running smoothly; it’s best to stick to plugins from a reputable source.
When you purchase the plugin, you get 12 months’ free support from the Barn2 Media team in case you have any problems with it or need advice on the best way to set it up.
WooCommerce Password Protected Categories is the only plugin to provide a comprehensive way of protecting entire product categories. It’s very simple to use, but powerful behind the scenes. If you need to protect areas within your WooCommerce online shop then you should consider using this plugin.
The plugin is lightweight and well coded behind the scenes and won’t slow down your website. It has been developed by a well-known WordPress company and will be actively developed and supported well into the future, so it’s a safe buy. At $29, it’s good value for money given the number of features and how easy it is to use.
Go ahead and check out the plugin here: https://barn2.co.uk/wordpress-products/woocommerce-password-protected-categories/
Have you used WooCommerce Password Protected Categories on your WordPress websites? Please let me know what you think of the plugin and leave your comments below.