WordPress has a fairly straightforward registration system. To register, you only need to submit a user name and your email address. A password is then emailed to you and you can log in. This registration process can actually be made quicker by enabling visitors to sign up and log in using social media services such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
A few months ago, in the comments area of my article “How to Integrate Facebook, Twitter and Google+ in WordPress,” a Smashing Magazine reader asked how this could be achieved. I am pleased to look at this issue for you all today. We’ll look at three WordPress plugin solutions that let you quickly add social-media registration functionality to your website, and we’ll look at the strengths and weaknesses of each.
Further Reading on SmashingMag:
- 25 Social Media Plugins For WordPress
- BuddyPress: One Plugin, Five Communities
- How To Integrate Facebook With WordPress
- Really Cute Twitter Icons: Tweeters & Birdies
How To Log In To WordPress Using A Social Network
I’ve tested all of the plugins in this article on my test blog; however, being prudent is always safe. So, back up your database before installing any of these plugins on a live website. Alternatively, you could create a WordPress test area that has the same theme and plugins installed as your live website and test everything out there.
You’ll also be glad to know that all of these plugins are free to download, so feel free to try a few to see which suits you best.
WordPress Social Login
Not only does WordPress Social Login let users register and log in with over a dozen social media services, it’s also one of the easiest plugins to set up. It supports Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Twitter, Windows Live, MySpace, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Gowalla, Last.fm, Goodreads, Tumblr and AOL. In the settings area for each service, simply enter the corresponding application key and secret, and select whether you want to allow users to sign in using the service.
In the customize section, you can choose the text that is displayed before the social media icons. Two icon sets from WPZoom and IconDock are available, although they are very similar.
You can also set the URL where logged-in users are redirected to, and you can define whether users may use a default avatar or a profile image from the social media service they signed up with.
Once everything is set up, you will see a list of social media services on your log-in page. Visitors may then click on their service of choice and authorize your app to register and/or log them in to your website. The social media icons are also added to the top of the comments area so that people can easily sign in and leave comments. Integration details can be found in the customize section and show you how to display the log-in icons anywhere using PHP (for example, in the sidebar, header, footer, etc.).
While, this plugin supports the most popular social media networks, I’d love to see more options added to the mix, such as for WordPress.com and OpenID. Still, setting it up is incredibly quick, and being able to add the log-in buttons to your website using PHP makes it very flexible and a good choice for those who want to integrate a social-media log-in area directly in their design.
Social Login is a BuddyPress-compatible solution that works with Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, PayPal, Yahoo, OpenID, LiveJournal, WordPress.com, Windows Live, StackExchange, Hyves, Mail.ru and VKontakte.
It was developed by the social log-in service OneAll. In order to use the plugin, you need to sign up with OneAll. What’s cool is that you can actually sign up using a range of networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and OpenID.
You then need to enter some details about your website, such as the subdomain you want for your website. Make sure to enter your domain’s details correctly.
You will then be given the API details for connecting your WordPress website to OneAll. Completing this initial process will take you less than two minutes.
Unfortunately, you’re not finished yet because you still have to set up an application for some social networks. Hyves, LiveJournal, OpenID, StackExchange and WordPress.com don’t require any attention (you can change some settings if you want, though), but you will need to set up applications for major networks such as Facebook, Google and Twitter. Criticizing the plugin for this is difficult, though, because the networks are the ones requiring this information. The plugin also supports eight languages: English, French, Spanish, Russian, Italian, Chinese, Japanese and German.
Once you have configured all of the network application’s details, you will need to enter the API details for your website on the set-up page of your WordPress website.
Last but not least, decide which social networks to enable on your website. Enable only the networks that you configured in your OneAll account, or else visitors will get an error message saying that the plugin cannot connect to the service.
Social Login adds icon links to your registration and log-in page in much the same way as other plugins, with the addition of a credit link back to OneAll. There is an option to add the log-in icons to a widget area such as the sidebar, too.
The plugin also has a fairly large settings area that lets you configure log-in, registration and comments settings. Some useful options are here, such as automatically approving comments from people logged in via Social Login and linking new accounts to existing accounts for identical users.
Social Login relies on a third party service to work, which means that setting up the plugin takes slightly longer than other solutions. It does work with a lot of popular social networks, though, and it does have some cool features that other plugins don’t have, so it’s certainly worth considering.
Social Login for WordPress
Social Login for WordPress is a popular plugin that uses the LoginRadius service to log users into social networks. It currently supports 21 networks, including Facebook, Google, MySpace, WordPress and Yahoo.
Just like Social Login, you will need to sign up with LoginRadius in order to use the plugin. This can be done fairly quickly using any of the social networks that the service supports. Once you have signed up, select which networks to make available to users.
Choose from two icon styles, and adjust the size of icons to small, medium or large. Also, choose whether to display four networks at a time and hide the others behind a scroll bar, or display all of the icons at once.
Eight of the twenty-one available social networks require you to set up an application.
You will need to enter the LoginRadius API’s details in the plugin’s settings area. Icon buttons may be displayed on the log-in page, registration page and comments area. A widget also lets you display the log-in form in a widget area such as the footer or sidebar.
By default, users are assigned the avatar of the social network that they signed up with, although you may use a default avatar instead if you wish. You can also set the page that users are redirected to upon logging in.
In the settings, you can change the text that is displayed above the social icons in the log-in, registration and comment areas. The text displayed above and below your widget can be customized independently. Also, if the user signs up using a network that does not provide an email address, you can request this additional information from users.
One feature that LoginRadius provides that other services don’t is the ability to track user activity. You can view statistics on active users, new users, users per day, total log-ins, log-ins per user, log-ins per day and the cities and countries that users are logging in from. Administrators of large websites will find this data useful.
Social Login for WordPress (and LoginRadius) is very similar to Social Login (and OneAll) in many respects, although setting up is slightly quicker, and seven more networks are supported. Both plugins let you display a log-in form in a widget area. While Social Login does have more configuration options, Social Login For WordPress has useful statistics about users. Recommending one over the other is, thus, difficult.
All three plugins are free to download, so if you have time and want to be careful in choosing the right solution, try them all out and see which fits your project the best. Below is a quick summary of the strengths of each solution.
- WordPress Social Login Quickest to set up because you don’t need to sign up for a third-party service. The log-in form can be integrated anywhere in your design using PHP.
- Social Login Supports most major social networks, and has some great features such as automatically approving comments from users who have signed up using a social network. Also, the log-in form can still be displayed even if comments are disabled for guests (a great way to reduce spam).
- Social Login for WordPress Supports a whopping 21 social networks, and through your LoginRadius account, you can check analytics on users, such as frequency of log-ins and country of origin.
If you know of any other great solutions not mentioned in this article, please share them in the comments area below. Also, subscribe to Smashing Magazine via RSS, Twitter, Facebook or Google+ to get the latest articles delivered directly to you.
I prefer to offer readers a much wider range of plugin options, but despite a lot of plugins being available to integrate social networks into WordPress’ registration and log-in process, I found that a lot of them did not work. The following plugins were tested for this article but were not covered because I found them to by buggy or nonfunctional:
- Simple Facebook Connect
- Simple Twitter Connect
- Simple Google Connect
- WP Google Plus Connect