BuddyPress is a way of creating a community in your WordPress site or network of sites. It is commonly used to create networks in universities, private companies or communities of interest. It does this by building common social media possibilities into a network of WordPress blog users.
Features of BuddyPress
For a full breakdown of the features of BuddyPress you can visit the project's home page. 1 Some of the most notable and useful features are: Activity Streams, Extended Profiles, Friend Connections, Private Messages, Private Messaging, Groups and Discussion Forums.
How does BuddyPress work?
BuddyPress is a plugin for WordPress which you download and install in the normal way. You need to then install a theme which is compatible with BuddyPress.
After installing the plugin you will get this message:
BuddyPress is ready. You'll need to activate a BuddyPress compatible theme to take advantage of all of the features. We've bundled a default theme, but you can always install some other compatible themes or upgrade your existing WordPress theme.
If you navigate to the Appearance section of your Dashboard, you will see the new default theme.
When you click Activate, the installation will be complete.
BuddyPress adds a lot of extra functionality and significantly alters the way your site works. You can only use certain themes for BuddyPress and these themes will significantly alter the front page of your network to highlight the BuddyPress features that you have enabled. These features include Activity Streams, Group Directory, Member Directory and Blog list.
The default settings for BuddyPress offer a lot of functionality. You may not need or want a lot of the things that are possible for your network. With this in mind, the makers of BuddyPress have made it easy to disable these features. Navigate to Component Settings in the new BuddyPress section of your Dashboard.
Select only the functions that you want. You may want to test some of them out on a site before asking the users of your network to use them. Some features, such as Groups, look a bit sad and lonely if you enable them but they are then are not used. It may be that you decide to introduce these features one by one to your network.
You may want to change the information that users are allowed to enter on their profile page. This is especially useful if your network is set up for a community of interest which has specific information they want to share. The Profile page is a great place to have that information.
To add extra fields for information, navigate to Profile Field Setup under the BuddyPress menu.
You can set the name and description of a field and choose what kind of field you want it to be: Text Box, Date Selector, Radio Buttons, Drop Down Select Box, Multi Select Box or Check Boxes.
Quick guide to using BuddyPress
Documenting how to use all of the possible features of BuddyPress is beyond the scope of this chapter. However, here is a quick guide to getting started. There is good support in the BuddyPress support forums.2
To join a Group in your BuddyPress network, go to the Group Directory by clicking this menu item under the Community tab.
From the list, you can join groups which interest you by clicking Join Group to the right of the group name and description.
Adding Friends and Messaging Users
When you have joined groups and watched the activity which happens there, you may want to message other users and add them as friends.
For example you may want to have a discussion with the user krishna c about their question in the screenshot above.
The easiest way to do this is to click on their username or avatar to go to their profile page.
To add the user as a friend just click the Add Friend button.
If you click Public Message you are given a message box starting with the user's username for your message. This message will be visible to all other users.
If you want to send a Private Message, click on that button to go to the message section of your BuddyPress Dashboard.
You can see there that there is already an entry in the Send To box so just fill in the Subject and Message, and click Send Message.
There are a large number of extra features that can be enabled through adding extra plugins to your WordPress/Buddy press system. 3
Many of these plugins can be used on WordPress sites without BuddyPress and some are written especially for BuddyPress installations.