How will you use your Portal?

There's a number of features you can combine in the Groundplan Theme to create portals, or areas for private content for a specific audience.  These portals can be used for a number of purposes:

  • Board Member communication and coordination
  • Subscriber-only private content access
  • Cast and Crew Production Resources Pages

Security Concerns and Constraints

The first step in setting up a private portal area is to decide what kind of access your audience will need:

  1. Is it easier for everyone to share a common password or link, or do you need to enable and disable access to the private areas on an individual basis?  Sharing a common password or link on a Password Protected Page is easier, but for complex membership situations where members might gain or lose their access is possible through privately published posts.
    1. Note: If you want to give each audience member their own login, there are also logistical considerations you should consider before going that route.  Would the audience have to have other logins to manage their information or profile (e.g. a ticketing login like Patron Portals?)  Does your staff have the bandwidth for the inevitable technical troubleshooting of providing customer service to people forgetting their passwords and not wanting to go through the automated password recovery process
    2. With the private page solution, there is only one global level of protected access across your site, while it is possible with the common password method to manage multiple portals for different uses.
  2. Does your audience need to download documents like PDFs and Word Docs?  See "Restricting Access to Downloads" below.

Setting up Private Access

Start by creating a new Default Template page to serve as your Portal Dashboard (or if you want more of an experience for your audience, you can also use the Landing Page Template).  Depending on the kind of access you want members to have, you can either: 

  • Set up a single Password or Token Protected Page, or...
  • Set the page visibility to "Private" and make a plan to create subscriber-level user accounts for all your members.  This will allow you to manage individual access to the private content areas.
    • Each new user can be created under Users >> Add New, and make sure they are set with the Subscriber role so they can't edit the website.
    • You'll need to communicate with the user what their login is.  We recommend reaching out to them directly with an orientation email, rather than relying on the built-in WordPress "alert the user of their new username" functionality, which can be extremely disorienting to someone who isn't prepared for it.

Because the Portal Dashboard is a regular page, you have a lot of flexibility over what those users will see on that page, and what types of content they can interact with, from event lists, to FAQs, to embeds, galleries, videos, etc.

Restricting Access to Downloads

When a PDF or other document is uploaded to the WordPress media library, it is publicly accessible and can be found accidentally through search engines.  Because of this limitation, we recommend that sensitive documents be hosted offsite using Dropbox,, or Google Drive which each have different mechanisms for limiting access to documents.

A common method is to upload a document to Dropbox, and copy the "Share Link" for that document.  You can then use that link with the Downloads component or a Button.  The Page access controls will limit only folks with access to the portal page, and then the Dropbox link makes it easy for them to access the protected file.  Further control over access, up to invite-only access, is also possible using tools like Google Drive.  For more on different sharing configurations in Google Drive, see this help article.

Sample Uses

We've seen this method of user portal creation have a wide range of applications for event-driven organizations, including: 

  • Board access, minutes and fiscal oversight / reporting downloads
  • Subscriber-only Video on Demand (VOD) and premium content access
  • Event Lists for members-only events
  • Cast and Crew Production Pages
  • Volunteer training and resource pages