Have you ever thought about creating a social network of your own? Maybe you own a business, and you want to create a web-based internal communication system for your company. But you don’t want to use the traditional social networks as your employees will be exchanging confidential business information.
Or maybe you just want to test something new. Whatever the case is, BuddyPress is the solution for you. This excellent, free WordPress plugin is created by the same company behind WordPress, Automattic.
In today’s post, I will show you how to create a social networking site of your own by using BuddyPress.
First of all, download and install BuddyPress from WordPress plugin directory. Once you activate the plugin, you will be taken to a welcome screen like the following –
This page provides information about the latest updates and credits for the plugin. Take a look at them if you want, but this is not mandatory.
Setting up BuddyPress
Now, let’s see how to set up BuddyPress. Go to Settings -> BuddyPress. The page should like the following –
As you can see, the page is divided into three tabs – Components, Pages and Settings. Let’s start our discussion with Components.
The components tab hosts all the available components. The components are further categorized according to their current status.
Besides the core components, four other components are activated by default – Extended Profiles, Account Settings, Activity Streams and Notifications. The four inactive components are – Friend Connections, Private Messaging, User Groups and Site Tracking.
This component includes additional profile customization features in the default profile editor. After enabling this component, go to Users -> Profile Fields to add additional fields.
Click ‘Add New Field‘. In the next screen, provide a name, description for the field and select the field type.
You can create check box, drop-downs, multi-select, radio buttons, a date selector, texture, number, normal text, URL etc.
From the right sidebar, you can choose to make this field required and limit its visibility. After making all the changes, click ‘Save‘.
Now, go to your profile and click the ‘Extended Profile‘ tab. You will see your newly added field in that page. The information will also be displayed in your public profile.
On the sidebar, you will find options to change the profile picture, registration time, last active time and the number of friends and groups.
This component allows the users to control their account settings, email notifications, and profile visibility options right from their profile. Enabling this component will create a new menu titled ‘Settings‘ in the user profiles. From that page, users can change various settings for their profile.
As the name suggests, enabling this component will allow the users to establish friend connections between them. Once you have this component enabled, users will have a new menu titled ‘Friends‘ in their profile.
Clicking the ‘Friends‘ link will show the list of friends. However, you need to add friends to show them in the list. To add a new friend, click the ‘Add Friend‘ button from other people’s profile.
Once you have clicked the add friend button, a friendship request will be sent to that person. They can either accept or reject the request. Once they accept your request, you will become friends.
Can you guess what this component does? Yes, it lets you send private messages to a friend or a group of friends. Once you enable this component, a new menu titled ‘Private Message’ will appear in the user profiles.
In the ‘Send To‘ field, you can define which friend(s) you want to send the message to. It is possible to select multiple friends in this area. If you are an administrator, you will also have the option to send the message as a notice to all users.
Provide the subject and type the actual message in the ‘Message‘ field. Once you are done, click ‘Send Message‘. At this point, the recipient(s) of the message will receive the message in their inbox.
This is the component that will show all the activities performed by all the members. Enabling this component will add the ‘Activity‘ menu in the user profiles. There are two types of activities in BuddyPress – activities of a particular user and site-wide activities performed by all users.
Clicking the ‘Activity‘ link from any user’s profile will show the activities performed by that specific user. And by going to the universal activity page, you can view the site-wide events. The universal activity page should be located at the following address – www.yoursite.com/activity/
It is possible to filter the activities to show only the new members, profile updates, friendships, group updates, group memberships, new groups, etc.
The component will also create a new menu item titled ‘Activity’ in your website dashboard. From that page, the administrator(s) can view the complete list of activities and reply, edit, delete or mark any activity as spam.
This component will send notifications to the users about various activities in the website. Enabling the component will create a new menu titled ‘Notifications’ in the user profiles. Users can edit the notifications from the ‘Settings’ section.
Once a user receives a notification, it will be displayed as a bubble in the toolbar and via email, according to the user’s specified settings.
Users will have the option to mark the notification(s) as read or delete them.
By enabling this feature, you can allow the users to create groups in the website. Once you have enabled this feature, users will have a new menu titled ‘Groups’ in their profiles. The component will also add a new menu item in your website dashboard.
To add a new group, go to Groups -> Add New from your site dashboard. The group creation process is divided into four steps. The first step requires you to provide a name and description for the new group.
In the ‘Settings‘ step, you can choose the privacy and invitation options for this group. There are three privacy options – Public, Private, and Hidden. In the next step, you can add a photo for the group.
And in the final step, you can invite your friends to the group. Once you have done that, you will be taken to the group activity page. From this page, you can publish posts in the category, view the members, send new invitations and update the group settings.
You will find a list of all the groups in the ‘Groups‘ menu of your website dashboard. From that page, you can edit, delete or view any group.
Now that we have gone through the components let’s focus on the ‘Pages‘ tab now.
Clicking on the ‘Pages‘ tab will take you to a page like the following –
From this tab, you can select the pages for various BuddyPress components like members, activity, groups, register and activate. By default, BuddyPress creates the pages for you. In most cases, you will not need to change anything here.
Next, let’s focus on the ‘Settings‘ tab. As you can see, this tab is also divided into several sections.
In the ‘Main Settings‘ section, you will find an option to show the toolbar for new/logged out, users. Then, you can allow the registered members to delete their accounts.
New users can create a new account by clicking the ‘Register‘ link.
Once the user submits the request, it needs to be approved by an administrator. The membership applications could be found in the Users -> Manage Signups page. It is possible to activate or delete the account or resend the activation email.
In the ‘Profile Settings‘ section, you can allow the members to upload a custom avatar and let BuddyPress use the WordPress profile syncing feature.
The ‘Groups Settings‘ section lets you allow the members to create groups and upload custom avatars for the groups. Lastly, the ‘Activity Settings‘ lets you enable activity stream commenting and activity auto-refresh.
After making all the changes, don’t forget to click ‘Save Settings‘.
BuddyPress is an easy and simple solution for creating small-sized social networking sites. If you are looking for an entirely customizable system for your next community site, BuddyPress could be the answer for you.
So, are you planning to use BuddyPress anytime soon? Or maybe you have used the plugin sometime in the past? If that is the case, please share your experience with us.
And if you are a complete beginner to BuddyPress, let me know what you think about the plugin. Do you wish for any other feature that could be included in the system? Let me know by leaving a comment below.