Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the very fun experience of building a social network using BuddyPress. I was pleased to find that it all comes together easily and, with the help of some great plugins and custom code, it’s a very good option for any client who wants to create a niche social network. It’s also a great solution for internal networks – I can see how it would work well for a college, or any organization that wants to have a central meeting place for its members. If you haven’t heard of BuddyPress yet, head on over to BuddyPress.org to check it out.
I thought I’d share some of the plugins I used as well as some tips for creating the best user experience. (All of this assumes a good working knowledge of WordPress.)
Theming your BuddyPress site is easy. Just create a child theme. Follow the instructions here: http://codex.buddypress.org/how-to-guides/building-a-buddypress-child-theme/
These plugins were a must for the network I created:
For security I used
SI CAPTCHA – add Captcha to your registration form.
BuddyPress Humanity – Add a security question to your sign-up form.
BuddyPress Private Messages for Friends Only – Limit the ability to send private message to friends and admins.
To extend the functionality of the network, I added these plugins:
Widget Context – One of my favorite WordPress plugins – it creates a dropdown on your widgets so you can select which pages/section sidebars the widgets display on.
Oembed for Video – Allow users to post video from YouTube, Flickr, Hulu and more by simply pasting in the link.
BP Gallery – Allow users to add photo galleries. Be sure to set an upload size limit. The support from BuddyDev of this plugin is fantastic!
Limit Groups Per User Plugin For Buddypress – Limit the number of groups a user can create.
BP Group Management – Gives the admin more control over groups and group members.
I ran into an issue with email notifications not working, but with a little tweaking of the config file and the addition of the Mail From plugin, the problem was solved.
For support, try the forums at the BuddyPress.org site or join the community at BuddyPress Dev.
Now that WordPress 3 includes WPMU, it’s easier than ever to set up a social network. The BuddyPress community is growing; I’m excited to see how it will evolve. There are already some great developers out there working on creative ways to extend it.