BuddyPress, Your Next Step?

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A while back BuddyPress 1.2 was released and with it came a bunch of new features to transform your WordPress installation into a full fledged community. You may be at the point where adding a social layer to your site is the logical next step to build a better blog. BuddyPress allows you to build a social network for your company, school, sports team or niche community all based on the power and flexibility of WordPress.

BuddyPress.org has evolved into a lively community and ever since BuddyPress can be installed on a regular WordPress site instead of a WordPress MU installation they have really gained momentum.

BuddyPress Features

The great part about BuddyPress is that all of it’s features can be turned on and off to your liking. But what are those features?

  • Activity Streams: Allow users to post activity updates and track all activity across the entire site. Global, personal and group activity streams with threaded commenting, direct posting, favoriting and @mentions. All with full RSS feed and email notification support.
  • Blog Tracking: Tracks blogs, blog posts and blogs comments for a user across your WordPress installation. With WordPress MU, and later on WordPress 3.0, you can also allow each of your users to start their own full powered WordPress blog. Track new posts and comments across your site.
  • bbPress Forums: Full powered discussion forums built directly into groups allow for more conventional in-depth conversations.
  • Friends: Allows the creation of friend connections between users. Your users can make connections so they can track the activity of others, or filter on only those users they care about the most.
  • Groups: Let users create, join and participate in public, private or hidden groups. Groups allow your users to break the discussion down into specific topics.
  • Private Messaging: Let users send private messages to one another, not just limited to one on one discussions, your users can send messages to multiple recipients. Site admins can also send site-wide notices.
  • Extended Profiles: Enables customizable profiles and avatars for site users. Fully editable profile fields that allow you to define the fields users can fill in to describe themselves. You can tailor your profile fields to suit your audience.

With each of these features being optional, you could, for instance, install BuddyPress just to enable the forum feature. This would be the quickest and easiest way to add a forum to WordPress installation and have the forum be styled matching your already existing theme (you do need this plugin for that to work though). Another example would to just enable the Extended Profiles when you want people to sign up to your site. A great way to get to know a lot about your users.

Of course, the true power of BuddyPress lies in the combination of all these components activated together. Don’t think of BuddyPress as an alternative to Facebook, just think of it as adding social (and engaging) features to your already existing WordPress site.

Already on Ning? Enter BuddyPress

For those of you who already started a Ning to create your community, now with Ning announcing the phasing out of the free version, it’s as a good of a time as ever to start thinking BuddyPress. There are actually quite a few solutions at hand to transform your Ning to a BuddyPress site.

Curious for more?

Are you curious for more information about BuddyPress? There are a few excellent resources out there already. Number one being the BuddyPress site itself and for some inspiration have a look at the Gallery in the Forums and do check out the ever growing list of BuddyPress plugins.

To have a look at what a standard but fully functional BuddyPress powered WordPress site looks and feels like, have a look at BuddyPress Testdrive. Another great BuddyPress site for inspiration is BP Inspire which showcase WordPress site that have integrated BuddyPress in a lot of variations.

So what do yo think? Is BuddyPress the next step for your WordPress site?

This article first appeared on BloggingPro: Community building with BuddyPress

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