WordPress can be extended and used to power virtually every type of website. But what about a social network?
Yes, of course it can!
BuddyPress allows you to quickly create a social network all within the WordPress dashboard. That means member profiles, activity streams, user groups, messaging, everything!
In simple words, BuddyPress is a free WordPress plugin that, once installed and activated, can turn your website into a social networking platform. Technically speaking, BuddyPress is just another plugin for WordPress, and as such, relies on the WordPress core to function properly.
However, for all practical purposes, BuddyPress is a powerful entity in its own right and can be used to power any size of community, be it big or small.
Don’t believe me? Well, the University of British Columbia uses BuddyPress. So does Kobe Bryant, and why don’t you check out The Daily Telegraph’s community portal? Yes, they are all powered by WordPress and BuddyPress.
BuddyPress serves a straightforward function: it transforms your website into a mini-version of Facebook, albeit one meant for niche communities. However, BuddyPress offers much more than that. It is packed with features such as activity streams, user groups, private messages, user connections, as well as analytics and stats for administrators.
You install and activate it much as you would with any other WordPress plugin: search for it in the WP admin panel via Plugins→Add New and then install and activate it. You’re good to go!
As for the initial setup, I would rather let a better document do the job. The official BuddyPress documentation has a rather detailed, yet easy to follow, guide for beginners, including a Getting Started section you should certainly bookmark. Check out the BuddyPress Codex here.
You should also consider taking a look at the BuddyPress community forums for any help and support that you might need.
BuddyPress Themes & Plugins
BuddyPress can be incorporated into most WordPress sites, but to really take advantage of all of its functions, you need a theme that has been specifically developed to accommodate its features.
There are many BuddyPress themes available, here are just some of my favorites:
Just like any typical WordPress installation, you can extend and add functionality to BuddyPress by uploading and installing plugins. Here are some BuddyPress plugins you might like to consider.
The fact that BuddyPress stands on the shoulders of the giant that is WordPress means you can rest assured that it is under active development and is backed by the support of a loyal and dedicated community.
Managing your own social network or forum is obviously a tough job. With BuddyPress, you can add some level of ease of use to this task.
What do you think of BuddyPress? How has your experience been so far? Share your views in the comments below!