An Introduction To BuddyPress

Posted on August 2, 2014 by in Tips & Tricks | 45 comments

An Introduction To BuddyPress

If you’re an avid WordPress user, then you may have heard of the well known social networking solution called . BuddyPress is a great way to build a social network for your company, school, sports team, or any niche community. This article is meant to be used as a guide to get you started off in the right direction with BuddyPress and WordPress. In this Introduction to BuddyPress, I will cover how to install the software, the useful features and interface BuddyPress supplies, BuddyPress extensions and much more.

A Closer Look

BuddyPress is a social network that allows users sign-up and start creating their very own profiles. Users can send messages, make connections with other users, create groups or communities, share status updates and much more. BuddyPress, as defined by its creators, is a “social network in a box “. If your company, community, school, or anything of that nature needs a place to interact with each other then look to BuddyPress as an outstanding solution.

BuddyPress comes with several components that integrate directly with your existing WordPress site. The great advantage to BuddyPress over other solutions is the fact that you don’t need to have a customized theme to use it. BuddyPress creates a few new pages and options within your theme and WordPress admin area. Other than these additions, your site can function just the same as it always has.

Benefits To Using BuddyPress

  • Complete social networking solution in one plugin.
  • Themeable and adaptable to almost any WordPress theme.
  • Extendable. Forums and additional plugins can all be added and maintained very easily.
  • User friendly. All the features of your favorite sites like Facebook and Twitter are yours to do with as you please.
  • Users can register and contribute thus creating a larger audience for your website.
  • A community can be established which builds up hype about your website.

Installation

Installing BuddyPress is easy. You actually install it like any other plugin. Simply head to your WordPress admin area and click on Plugins. Search for BuddyPress. The first result should be the installation you are looking for. You will notice a lot of plugins during your search. There are a ton of add-ons that make BuddyPress even more useful. I will cover a few shortly.

buddypress-search-plugin

BuddyPress

After installing, you’ll notice a couple of new things within your theme and your WordPress admin area. I’ll explain these below.

buddypress-installed

BuddyPress successfully installed.

After a full installation of the BuddyPress plugin, you will likely notice a few changes to the way your admin area looks. In the top right, where you username and gravatar lives, you will notice a new circle with a zero inside. This is a notifications indicator. With BuddyPress you can opt to have settings to include notifications for messages, comments, friend requests and more.

If you hover over your username and gravatar, you will notice a much more elaborate drop down menu of available options.

user-dropdown

User Dropdown and new links that appear after installing BuddyPress.

Here you see what my current installation and profile drop down looks like. Notice the new options for activity, profile, notifications, messages, friends, groups, and settings. You can also edit your profile and update your account information just like on sites such as Facebook or Twitter. You should also notice many of the features you probably use today on social networking sites are now right within your website.

Finally if you look to the left side navigation you will notice two new links to Activity and Groups (depending on your settings).

Users

BuddyPress revolves around its user base. Without users, your BuddyPress installation might be a little lacking. The first step, once you have enough users, is to allow your new users to register for their own account. In order to allow people to register, you first need to make sure you actually allow this process within your main WordPress settings panel. By default WordPress is set to disallow user registration. You can even assign new registrars different roles within your WordPress site. For BuddyPress, you will likely want to set your default user role to Subscriber or Contributor settings for maximum security.

membership

Set your membership settings to “Anyone can register” to allow BuddyPress to work properly. Find this settings in the General Settings panel.

Once registered, each user is given their own profile and admin area to control. They can modify their account information as well as keep track of their time on the site. The login to their account will be the familiar WordPress login screen you already use to access your admin area. The big difference is that once the new registrars login, the settings and actions they can control will be limited based on the role you have assigned.

Adding a new user can be done by the user themselves or by clicking the register button once directed to do so. The screen below displays the Login and Register links in the bar atop your website. With a bit CSS, you can style these links to fit in more with the look of your website.

create-account

Register a new user.

Users can also be added from the administration panel. If the website is owned by you, then you can easily add users as well.

create-user-from-admin

Create a new user from the admin area.

Here is our newly added user.

user-added

List of current user base

For this walk-through I am using our new Divi 2.0 theme. For the sake of brevity I haven’t made a lot of customizations to the theme as you can probably tell. There is so much more you can customize when using this theme, but I won’t be covering that today. For our purposes, I will just be exploring how well BuddyPress adapts with the theme as well as the functionality of the plugin itself.

Profile

If you’ve used WordPress before and are familiar with the various user roles, then editing your profile should be both an easy and familiar process. After logging in you can click your user drop down menu at the top right side of your screen. Click on Edit Profile and you will be taken to a page where you can update things such as your nickname, admin color style, biographical information, as well as include a link to your website. You can also update your password if needed.

Below is the current setup on my testing WordPress Installation. Remember that some of this information gets displayed to other users who register on your site. Having a memorable username and gravatar thumbnail helps other users recognize you and identify with you, so be sure and choose good credentials.

profile-edit

Edit your BuddyPress profile.

With your profile updated you can now see how your information is displayed publicly. Head to your user drop down menu again and click the Profile link. You should see something similar to this:

User Profile with a single status update.

User Profile with a single status update.

Within this page, which every user has, are a large number of features including:

  • Last Activity
  • Profile
  • Notifications
  • Messages
  • Friends
  • Groups
  • Settings

It’s safe to say that this page is a dashboard of sorts for BuddyPress. Users can message each other, post status updates, join groups, update notification settings as well modify their global settings.

Requirements

To use BuddyPress successfully and to its full potential, the plugin requires a few pages to be present on your website. If you look in your WordPress Dashboard under Settings > BuddyPress you will see a Pages tab similar to the one shown below.

bp-pages

BuddyPress Pages Settings Area.

By default the Activity, Groups, and Members pages are create. You will need to create both the Register and Activate pages if you want to allow users to register on your site. If you are using BuddyPress, then this is a requirement.

Once all the pages are present and you have allowed anyone to register to your site within your main settings panel, you should be ready to use BuddyPress the way it was intended.

Widgets

By default, BuddyPress includes some custom widgets that can offer really useful information to all of your sites users. These a used for logging in, notifications, and also allow you to seeing who is online and logged in at the same time as you.

The default widgets provided by BuddyPress.

default-widgets

The default widgets that ship with the BuddyPress plugin.

The widgets active inside our theme.

widgets-active

Default BuddyPress widgets active.

Extending BuddyPress

As if BuddyPress wasn’t enough, there are a number of amazing plugins available that extend it even further. Most of the plugins are very simple to set up and maintain. You probably won’t have to worry much about the plugins becoming unsupported in the near future.

bp-toolbar-plugin

BuddyPress Toolbar Plugin Homepage

The BuddyPress Toolbar is almost a must have if you decide to implement BuddyPress on your website. The toolbar is a an extension to BuddyPress which gives admins quick access to the latest activity, custom settings, and even more to the websites owner or moderator. Think of it a short cut plugin that is a huge time saver if your site happens to grow and have a lot of users to maintain. If you search for BuddyPress when adding a new plugin you’ll see the BuddyPress Toolbar coming in at second on the list.

bp-toolbar

The BuddyPress Toolbar

bbPress

bbPress plugin homepage

bbPress is a software package built with forums and WordPress in mind. The plugin seamlessly adds a great forums solution to WordPress’s already powerful content management system. This saves you time and headache while searching for a third party solution of a similar caliber. The seamless integration I described above also happens to work with BuddyPress. Alongside WordPress, you can download both BuddyPress and bbPress and have an amazingly cool website in just a few clicks.

To install it, navigate to the new plugin page and search for bbPress. Install the plugin and click activate. Head to your admin area and then to the Settings / Forums. You should see a screen similar to the one below. At the very bottom of this screen you should see a section titled BuddyPress Integration. The title speaks for itself here. This section controls the integration between your users who signed up with BuddyPress and the newly installed bbPress plugin.

bbPress-settings

BB Press default settings panel. BuddyPress integrates with bbPress.

With both bbPress and BuddyPress installed, your users can now have access to the forums section of your website while using their supplied account with BuddyPress and WordPress. Super cool!

buddypress-links

BuddyPress Links. Plugin that easily converts rich media for you when linking to it within BuddyPress.

BuddyPress Links adds rich media sharing features to BuddyPress. If you have ever shared a link on Facebook or GooglePlus, you may have noticed the link automatically displays some of the data you are actually linking to. Data such as images, video, thumbnails, and excerpts are what typically gets displayed. The BuddyPress Links plugin make this task simple and easy. Simply download and activate the plugin and you and your users should be good to go.

There is a free version and a pro version. The pro version gives you access to group integration, link re-sharing, Dailymotion and Vimeo support and more.

buddypress-docs

BuddyPress Docs. Write documentation with user collaboration with BuddyPress.

BuddyPress Docs is a plugin geared towards a collaborated documentation environment. Think of it as wikipedia but on a smaller scale. The ability to have other users contribute is also a nice add on.

Conclusion

WordPress alone is a very powerful platform. Combining WordPress with BuddyPress makes the platform even more powerful. Within minutes your WordPress website can transform into a complete social network where users discuss, relate, comment, and improve whatever it is your service or product(s) provide. Using BuddyPress can allow you to open new doors and target a much larger audience. With a few customizations and a couple plugins properly activated and updated, there’s no telling how much you can achieve. I hope you’ve learned a bit about BuddyPress and how it can be useful on some websites. If your site or company needs a place to communicate, then look no further than BuddyPress + WordPress.

45 Comments

  1. Thank you

  2. Awesome tutorial Andy!

  3. HI,

    Nice article. Would you recommend using BuddyPress or a combination of other plugins (S2, wp-types, etc.) to build a similar membership site?

    In the past (over a year ago) I looked at BuddyPress but the documentation was horrible and it was not very theme friendly. It looks like this might have changed?

    Very interesting article, would love to hear more about BuddyPress and pros & cons on how to use it with Divi or your new Extra theme?

    Thanks for the great articles.

    • I’ve seen S2 and AMember both used for membership sites using buddy press.

  4. Thanks, great post. I actually wish I’d had this one 3-4 months ago. Now I’ll update my client’s site with those extra plugins you recommended. Thanks so much.

  5. I have been using buddyPress and bbPress on my site for quite a while now and I really like the social/community capabilities these plugins provide. That being said, I have definitely had some problems with functionality bugs and with getting assistance to correct these problems via the buddyPress help forums. For example, for months now I have had a problem with notifications in buddyPress showing up as blank, which really confuses my users.

  6. I’ve recently been learning about Buddy press for a new site to be used by a group I belong to, which sounded interesting. However, this blog clarifies everything so much more. Thank you.

  7. I just email ET support and was told ET themes were not compatible with BuddyPress???

    • As far as I know, BuddyPress should work with our themes. We haven’t built in any custom styling or formatting for our themes, however.

      • No, Divi is not compatible with Buddypress. Head to the support forums to see the multitude of questions about this. I’m sorry, but this post sits on the top of a Google search (divi theme and buddypress) but is not accurate at all.

        • Hi,

          I’ve been playing around with Divi 2 and Buddy press, and I was wondering if you had any advice on how to achieve 2 columns layout with buddy press “specific pages”.

          All the buddy press pages are full width even though I give a sidebar layout to these pages…

      • Yeah, Divi does not work with Buddypress out of the box. You have to do complex coding to make it work.

      • Yeah, Divi does not work with Buddypress out of the box. You have to do complex coding to make it work.

      • Divi is great & beautiful but I’ve already run into this 2x also. I’m not a fan of BuddyPress. I think most businesses have more urgent commercial goals.

        But if you build wp sites it will come up over the course of a year.

  8. Excellent overview. Great job & thanks!

  9. Thanks for share Andy 🙂

  10. Hm..,BuddyPress while the post makes it simple is also thick to comprehend with some themes without good support. Thank you Andy for presenting BP so easy.

    • Not a problem. BuddyPress has come a long way and as you can tell by this post It makes use of your existing theme without the need for specific customizations which is a huge leap forward from where it was before.

  11. awesome …. can’t wait to start building my social networking sites…. Thanks alot for this post… May God Bless you so much and everything you guys are doing … coz you have been of great help to us…. Bayo Simon – UGANDA – Kampala

  12. Great article,

    I have used Buddypress a few times and really like it but bbpress really lets it down in a few areas.

    The biggest of which is it’s lack of ‘View Latest Posts’ functionality. Trying to get people to move from systems like SMF and phpbb is very difficult when they can’t see all new posts since their last visit with a single click.

    Very frustrating and has resulted in us dropping it (and therefore Buddypress) in favour of a forum system. This then brings other headaches like bridging users between wordpress and the forum chosen but at least the users will use it!!

    Cheers
    Gavin

  13. It’s been a little over a year since I ditched my Buddy Press installation so things may have changed since but my experience was a C- at best. Functionality was never a “major” issue but there were bugs here and there. My biggest problem was visual. I wasted a lot of time trying to get it to look right (which it never did). Google trends shows it peaking around 2010 and declining ever since. Any other good social networking options?

    • Hi Brad,
      I’ve setup a social network site for a local non-profit organisation using Oxwall. It’s not WordPress based, but it might be what you’re looking for?

      Cheers.

    • Hi Brad, I tried to contact you over elance but did not get a response. I am interested in have you do some design work on our site. Please email me when you can.

      Best Regards

  14. Andy,
    What would be a good addition to this already awesome tutorial is some links to a few sample sites and Forums running Buddy Press and BBpress so we can see how it looks and functions like in reality with users and the forums experience.

    Thanks,

    Hari

  15. I have installed the buddypress as you said, but I am not receiving any activation mail while registering a new user, can you tell me what is the actual problem?

  16. You make it sound so simple… but it really isn’t. I have wasted hours and hours of my life trying to get Buddypress working for me… It is fundamentally obscure and illogical. you need a PhD to make it work for you…

    • Such a versatile theme I refuse to abandon it
      I have got the design compatibility worked out with css adjustments on a child theme.
      I am just working on the jquey conflicts from the custom js in Divi theme.

      When I have that part fixed and certain of it I will post a fix here and the Buddypress relevant css here.

      • I thought UsersUltra might fit the bill and paid for the pro version. It had even more issues with Divi. So I’m back to chiseling CSS and javascript hell… I’d love to see anything you’ve come up with. I love Divi, but require BuddyPress functionality and would have to pick one over the other…

  17. Buddy Press Functionality is a major issue.
    One of the key elements which revolves around the commenting system does not work. I wish people check thoroughly before misleading others to believe Divi is BuddyPress compatible.
    make some comments it works go back and try commenting It WONT.
    Reply to a Comment IT Wont.
    If you revisit the activity page commenting or replies on previous comments
    wont work.
    The design parts can be tweaked with css modifications.

    • One of the key elements which revolves around the commenting system does not work. I wish people check thoroughly before misleading others to believe Divi is BuddyPress compatible.
      make some comments it works go back and try commenting It WONT.
      Reply to a Comment IT Wont.

  18. Hi. great tutorial, also which i can add, that most of popular themes alredy support buddypress and works fine.

  19. Hi comment section of buddypress is not working using divi theme.I think some issue is there in divi theme. when i changed it to another free theme then buddy press all configuration is working. Please help me Thankyou.

  20. We bought an unlimited license of your themes, which themes from elegant themes are compatible with buddypress?

  21. Buddypress will not work correctly with the Divi theme. The dynamic widget areas cause problems and this is a big disappointment. :/

  22. Thanks for a great intro to Buddypress/bbpress…an hour ago a client bowled up demanding bb-style forums, and I was sat tryijng to decide between bbpress and Buddypress. Now I’m well on my way, although I should just say, there don’t seem to be any good get-you-started guides out there, even amongst the documentation released by buddypress/bbpress themselves.
    Everyone seems to assume installers are fully up-to-date with FB/etc so know what to expect – not me 8(.
    Any good links? Like a walk-through of how a user would interact with these services? Thanks again either way, great post.

  23. I was reading on the Buddypress site that there is a release of “BuddyPress Companion Stylesheets”. Does this mean that a Divi companion stylesheet is the way to go? Does anyone have this?
    But is it true that comments don’t work anyway..

  24. Hi, so did anyone had any luck to get BuddyPress and DIvi working well!, looks like this is ongoing issue and it’s a bit sad.

    • This has been a major bummer for me. I bought Divi thinking it could really be the last theme I ever buy. But I make a LOT of BuddyPress sites too, and Divi just plain sucks with BuddyPress.

      I keep seeing Carpetcleaninghaddontownship say that BP is a 3rd-party plugin and therefore isn’t supported. Technically it’s not a part of WP core, sure, but it’s OWNED by Automattic!! It’s the #4 featured Plugin in the depository! BuddyPress, along with bbPress, are the two most basic plugins that EVERY WP theme that exists should support!!!

      If Divi simply worked well with BP, it would make so many people insanely happy.

      Better yet, if Divi gave some basic styling to BP pages, or was able to give some modules that worked with BP (so people could make more custom profiles and group pages), sales for DIVI would easily double overnight.

      It’s remarkable to me that they just don’t seem to care about BP at all… 🙁

  25. What would be a good addition to this already awesome tutorial is some links to a few sample sites and Forums running Buddy Press and BBpress so we can see how it looks and functions like in reality with users and the forums experience.

    Thanks,

  26. Hi,

    Do you work on an update for better integration with buddypress? It seems that the integration is not very good (especially the sidebar area).

    Thank you.

  27. I’m building a Health and Medical Website these days and I think this idea of community can help me alot.

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