Creating A Social Network With WordPress & BuddyPress

WordPress is most popular content management system (CMS) on the web today. Not just a blog, but WP can be used to create a fully featured social network using plugins like BuddyPress, forums using official plugin bbPress and even e-commerce website using 3rd party plugins. Read more to learn creating a social network with WordPress and BuddyPress.

Why Use WordPress?

Today, WordPress is used by 60 million websites on the web. While WordPress began as a blog tool in 2003, it has now expanded its strength as the most powerful website tool. It is used by websites like Time Magazine, Colleges like Georgia State University and even Governments like Indian PM Office. In fact, the largest social network, Facebook uses WordPress for its newsroom website.

WordPress is Easy to Code: Many web developers start learning by developing for WordPress. It’s easy to learn and develop. However, this doesn’t make WordPress a tool just for beginners. If you’re interested in coding your own social network, go for WordPress.

Unlimited Possibilities to Customize & Extend: With thousands of plugins and themes available on WordPress.org repository as well as other marketplaces, WordPress can customized exactly as per your needs.

Easy to Use: For end-users WordPress is easy to use. Your website members won’t need additional training for creating content on website. WordPress support many media types.

Creating A Social Network – WordPress, BuddyPress and bbPress

While WordPress is generally advertised as a Blog Publishing Tool, it can be easily extended to be used as a complete Content Management System using built-in classes and functions. You can create any type of website with WordPress easily, let it be:

  1. E-commerce Website
  2. Video Gallery
  3. Movies/Books review website
  4. Creative Portfolios
  5. News/Magazine Website
  6. A Social Network
  7. Forums

So, let’s create one! A social network with WordPress.

Install WordPress

Before any further to-do, buy a domain, a web hosting server and install WordPress. Most of the hosts provide services like Softaculous and Fantastico that will install WordPress for you on one click.

Or you can do it yourself by downloading it and uploading via FTP on your server, adding MySQL table, user and going through with WP 5-minute install.

Configure BuddyPress

Buddypress is a plugin developed by Automattic, the company behind WordPress. It’s also available for free, like WordPress. BuddyPress has a lot of cool features that will help you create your awesome social network.

Install BuddyPress

To install BuddyPress, sign in to your Admin dashboard on WordPress, navigate to Plugins menu on left. Click on ‘Add New’. Probability is you’ll find BuddyPress under ‘Featured’ plugins. However, if it’s not shown there, search for it in the search box. Click ‘Install Now’ for BuddyPress and Activate once it’s installed.

Install bbPress

Now in the similar fashion, you can also installed bbPress, if you would like to add a fully-features & integrated forum in your social network.

Once you’ve installed and activated BuddyPress, let’s set up BuddyPress components. To do that, go to Settings > BuddyPress. BuddyPress settings are separated in three tabs:

  1. Components: These are social components where you can turn additional features on and off. The social network features include Extended Profiles, Friendships, Messaging, Notifications etc. All the check-boxes have a description along with the title.
  2. Page: BuddyPress uses WordPress pages to show content. In this tab, you can configure members directory page, activity stream page, sign up and sign in page for your social network.
  3. Settings: This tab allows you to configure some other administrative settings like whether to allow users to delete their profiles or not.

BuddyPress Components

The major components of BuddyPress are:

  1. Extended Profiles: Users can create their profiles. Admins can add/remove custom fields, separate them in different sections and tabs.
  2. Friends: Users can be friends. Much like friendship feature of Facebook.
  3. Messaging: Users can communicate with each other by sending private messages. Useful for private conversations.
  4. Groups: Users can create communities for a particular interest.
  5. Notifications: Like Facebook Notifications, Google+ Notifications and Twitter Notifications, your users will also receive notifications on what’s happening.
  6. Activity Stream: A news feed where users will get updates from all the connections – groups and friends.
  7. Settings: Who doesn’t love toggling settings and profiles? Your members can do that too!

In earlier versions, BuddyPress also used to release theme packs. However, now BuddyPress can be used with BuddyPress compatible themes, though BuddyPress will work on any theme.

BuddyPress Themes

You do not need to install separate theme for BuddyPress. In the WordPress theme directory give a search for BuddyPress ready theme or BuddyPress Compatible theme.

Social Magazine: This theme features a fixed navbar, responsive template and utilizes bootstrap.

Destin Basic: This theme allows you to add your own page layouts, supports post formats and is compatible with BuddyPress and WooCommerce.

Manage Issue Based Magazine: Another theme with BuddyPress support. It comes with theme options and support for WooCommerce.

Extend Functionality

Till this point, you’ll have all the basic functions BuddyPress does. Now is time to improve it by extending functionality using plugins. And best part is, you don’t need another interface or module to add plugins to BuddyPress. It’s done in exactly the same way as you install plugins for WordPress.

WebPurify Profanity Filter: As the name suggests this plugin is used to add filters on the type of content being added to your website. As your network becomes popular, you’ll need to monitor user content for spam and other content that may be inappropriate for your network.

WanGaurd: Use this plugin to protect your social network from spambots. It protects the registration page of your WordPress, WordPress Multisite, or BuddyPress from sploggers and unwanted users.

rtMedia for WordPress, Buddypress & bbPress: This plugin allows you to add albums, photo, audio/video encoding, privacy, sharing and front-end uploads. All this works on mobile/tablets devices.

BuddyPress Forum Editor: This plugin adds a visual editor to the forums on your website.

I’ve listed a very few themes and plugins in this post. These are all free extensions available on WordPress.org respository. You can search for Buddypress there for a full list of plugins and themes.

So, are you gonna create a social network WordPress, BuddyPress & bbPress now?

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