Transforming your WordPress website into a community with the use of BuddyPress has never been an easy task, but thanks to the improvement in the recent versions of social networking plugins.
BuddyPress works incredibly with various free and premium themes, and its elements look excellent in responsive themes too.
If you want to switch your website into a community of users and want to include social media features, then you can make a use of free BuddyPress plugin. In this blog post, we will explain how to install and configure the BuddyPress on your WordPress website. Through this blog post, you will learn the procedure to create pages for BuddyPress, to add these to your menu and widgets, and testing your site with the use of test data.
What is BuddyPress?
BuddyPress is an amazing plugin used for WordPress that converts a site to a fully functional social network platform. It offers features that allow your members to interact socially with each other within their multi-blogging platform environment.
How to Install BuddyPress?
The very first thing that you need to do is to install the BuddyPress plugin.
In your WP admin panel, go to Plugins> Add New, and you will see BuddyPress in the list of your plugins.
Then, click the Install button followed by Activate plugin link, and the BuddyPress plugin will be installed in your site.
Once completing the installation process, you will be taken to the welcome screen of BuddyPress:
Here, you will see many links that can allow you to set up and manage your BuddyPress Community. You can begin by configuring settings for BuddyPress.
How to Configure BuddyPress?
With the help of three major components you can configure BuddyPress:
- Choosing the components that you want to add
- Creating pages
- Customizing the settings
You need to start by choosing components because that will have a ripple effect on the other settings.
How to Activate the Components of BuddyPress?
In order, to select the components, you need to either click the Set Up Components link in the welcome screen or click to Settings> BuddyPress and choose the components tab.
By default, some of the components are selected for you:
Well, you can choose from the following list as per your requirements:
- Account Settings: It allows your user to edit their account settings.
- Private Messaging: It enables users to send each other the private messages.
- Extended Profiles: It customize user profiles and configure the handy fields.
- Friend Connections: It allows users build a connection with each other.
- Notifications: You can choose this and your members will receive notifications of current activities in the way that they choose.
- Activity Streams: It show streams of activity on a website with direct posting to the front-end, email notification and threaded commenting.
- Website Tracking: It tracks all activities of your site.
- BuddyPress Core: BuddyPress will not work without this.
- User Group: It enables the creation of user groups for people to make their own networks in your community.
- Community Members: You cannot deselect this because BuddyPress will not function without members.
You can choose as many as possible according to your website’s needs, and add to them whenever you required.
Check all boxes that you need for your site, and then click on the Save Settings button.
How to Configure Pages?
After that, you need to configure the pages that the BuddyPress plugin will utilize. Before switching to the pages tab, you will need to craft couple of pages:
For registration and activation
First you need to access your WP admin panel, then go to Pages> Add New and craft the two pages. Name one Registration page and the other Activation page (you can also give some other but meaningful name to you and your users).
After doing this, you will see all pages in your website in the listing screen of Pages. BuddyPress has already included two more pages for you that are the Activity and Members.
You need to click the Save Settings button and BuddyPress will automatically utilize those pages to show the relevant content on your website.
How to Configure Settings?
Once selecting all the components and creating pages, you need to configure the settings of BuddyPress.
Click on the Settings tab.
This screen will give you the wide range of options for features that you can select to enable or disable. These options are:
- Main Settings: It enables/disable the toolbar that can be seen at the top of the screen for logged-in users, and determine whether users can delete their account itself or not.
- Profile Settings: It let members to upload their profile picture and sync BuddyPress and WP profiles.
- Group Settings: It allows users to create groups, and select whether to enable customization of group avatars.
- Activity Settings: It allows activity stream commenting on a blog, forum post and BuddyPress updates.
You need to choose any of them that are suitable for your site and click the Save Settings button.
How to Configure the WordPress Settings?
After setting up BuddyPress, you need to configure your WP settings before continuing to add your navigation menu and widgets.
In the Setting menu in the WP admin, you can edit these settings:
Permalinks: ensure fairly permalinks are switched on.
Reading: set this because the homepage is a static page, known as the Activitypage. It will determine that when your users will open your site.
How to Install a Theme?
After doing this, you need a theme for your WordPress website. In the recent past, you could only utilize a BuddyPress- compatible theme if you want to access BuddyPress, and if you want to use it with your theme, then you have to include some additional theme template files to enable BuddyPress. The best thing about this plugin is that it will work with any well-coded theme.
Here, we will use Spacious as an example. This theme comes with simple design that doesn’t reduce from the content your users will produce, and also has customization options that means you can adjust the design.
Go to the Appearance> Themes and Click the Add New Button. Then, type spacious into the search box to set the theme displayed:
After that click the install button to install and activate the theme.
How to Add a Navigation Menu and Widgets?
Our next step is to add a menu and some widgets to the website to enhance navigation.
Procedure of Creating a Menu for Navigation
If your site doesn’t have a navigation menu, you will need to develop one and assign it to the primary position in your theme.
Just go to Appearance> Menus, and click create a new menu link. Then, give name to your menu, and cross-check the Primary Navigation checkbox and then save it.
If you are unable to find the BuddyPress section on the left side, along with all BuddyPress pages listed, then you can switch it on by opening the Screen Options tab, which places at the top of the screen.
Now, you can add a selection of BuddyPress pages and your regular pages into the navigation menu. You can add these:
- Log In
- Log Out
Now, you can save all the changes by click Save Menu.
Procedure of Adding Widgets
Now, you will need to add widgets to your sidebar and header widget areas, and the four footer widget areas. If you are making the use of different theme, then you have different widget areas. In fact, the widgets you use will rely on the components that you activated in the starting.
Include these widgets to the sidebar widget area:
- BuddyPress Log In
- BuddyPress Sitewide Notices
- BuddyPress Friends
If your theme has any of these, you can add the Search widget to the header widget area. If not, then it will be fine to add it to the sidebar.
Then, you need to include three BuddyPress-specific widgets to the first three footer widget area:
- BuddyPress who is Online
- BuddyPress Active Members
At last, you need to add a text widget to the fourth footer widget area, along with some informative text regarding the community and a link to the registration pages.
Now my website looks like this:
How to test a website with Dummy Content?
It will be good to test your website before you launch your BuddyPress community. With the help of BuddyPress Default Data plugin, you can import dummy data and add content to all the BuddyPress screens. You just need to Go to Plugins> Add New and install the BuddyPress Default Data Plugin.
Then, go to Tools>BP Default Data to view the plugin’s screen:
Well, the options you select here will completely depend on the BuddyPress components that you have installed:
- Import user profile data
- Import user
- Create friend connections
- Import groups
You need to click on the import Selected Data and the plugin will automatically import dummy data.
After cross-checking all the screens in your website, you can delete the test data by returning to the plugin’s screen in the Tools menu and then you need to click the Clear BuddyPress Data button.
How to Manage a BuddyPress website?
After setting up BuddyPress to your site, the next step is to influence web users to join you. Once users start joining, there are many tasks that you will have to keep on top:
- Consistently update your site, including the WordPress, BuddyPress plugins, theme and plugins.
- Cross-check your site while updating your site.
- Keep a backup of your site with the help of a plugin like Snapshot Pro.
BuddyPress is a powerful plugin that can help you in creating online communities. It can be used for anything from a small team to a large chain of people all around the world.
In this blog, we have learned the complete procedure of installing and Configuring WordPress. We also learnt how to add BuddyPress pages to navigation menu, add BuddyPress widgets in your theme’s widget’s area and the proper utilization of dummy data that is used to test your community.
Traacey Jones is a WordPress developer by profession and she works for a leading custom WordPress theme development company – HireWPGeeks Ltd. She uses to write useful tutorials on WordPress and socialize it different social media platforms.