BuddyPress

All posts tagged BuddyPress

BuddyPress for building your social network

A few months back I talked about a client’s success in moving a Ning community to WordPress and, inevitably, BuddyPress.

But what’s the big deal about BuddyPress? It is a plugin, but it creates so many new features for your website, it’s actually quite a bit more. I like to think of BuddyPress almost as a social networking application, in a plugin. Its features almost make it a Facebook clone. But it’s not Facebook.

Buddypress features

A quick rundown of its features:

  • User groups
  • Friending, profiles
  • Discussion profiles
  • Private messaging
  • Blog tracking [for multisite networks]
  • Status updates
  • Activity streams [which are an aggregate of the above]
  • The wire [feedback wall, separate from the activity streams]

The “famous” add-on to BP is bbPress, which is essentially forum enhancement.

Keep in mind, BuddyPress is not multisite. Multisite WP [and certainly a topic for a future blog!] is for multiple blog sites in a single WordPress installation, and BuddyPress can be multisite or just one blog.

Forums v. groups

The confusion I found when starting a BP site is the difference between forums and groups. Groups can have forums and blogs, but forums can stand alone. And, groups can be made private — i.e, for membership or board members who need a private area.

Customizing BuddyPress also poses some new issues:

  • For developers: When editing your themes, don’t edit bp-sn-parent, the parent theme. Copy it to bp-default, and create a child theme.
  • Right now, you can’t use any WP theme out of the box. There are some rather limited options, which are notably different because they include the “special” BP pieces: login, registration, forums, groups, etc.
  • Only some regular WP plugins will work with BP, but usually, multisite ones will work. It takes some testing to see which are compatible [but isn’t that always the way?]

There are specific BuddyPress plugins, adding functionality for users and admins alike:

  • bbpress: forum enhancement
  • BP my home: allow users to move their own widgets & set up their “dashboard”
  • Pending activations: not on multisite
  • Ad manager
  • Activity refresh: you set timing
  • Registration options: attach to particular groups or blogs [multisite]
  • Ultimate Facebook
  • Private community
  • Welcome pack
  • Groupblog: associate blog w/group
  • Bookmarklet
  • Group Documents: doc storage
  • S2member: membership by restricting URLs by user

BuddyPress spam beware

BP is a huge target for spammers, but there are some ways to combat, or at least cut it down:

  • Bad Behavior, Wangguard plugins (July 2017 note: WangGuard is now no longer supported by its author, and I’ve found WPMU’s Anti-Splog is quite effective but pricey.)
  • Remove Buddypress & WP credit lines
  • Rename your registration slug to block “insite:register” searches

What’s next for BuddyPress?

Coming down the line for BP 1.7  is compatibility with all WordPress theme. This is simply huge! We’ve been waiting on this for a while, so not sure when it’ll hit.

BuddyPress Resources

Some of my go-to resources on BP:

 

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Lisa GhisolfBuddyPress for building your social network

Case study: Migrating from Ning to WordPress & BuddyPress

Definitely watch this space: One of my favorite clients, Chicago acupuncturist Mitch Harris, already runs a WordPress site and knows its ins and outs. But, he also had a Ning site with 300+ members for a growing Eastern nutrition and recipe site, Food From East, fed by his Pacific College students. As Ning kept increasing their hosting rates for an undoubtedly useful set of tools, it also became unwieldy and didn’t really fit Mitch’s needs. Too, he wanted to make it more of a resource on Eastern nutrition, for both practitioners and the public alike.

The Ning migration

Enter WordPress, BuddyPress and the awesome WPMU Ning to BuddyPress Importer plugin. BuddyPress, for the uninitiated, is all about making your WordPress site social. It can make it a sort of Facebook “lite,” and is ideal for education, your private or public niche membership site, or really, anything you might have thrown on Ning before.

Image representing BuddyPress as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

Now, this won’t solve all your problems: The taxonomies between Ning and WordPress are different, and everyone posts things in different areas depending on how they originally set up Ning. Though the migration was pretty painless, we are still cleaning up comments and posts that ended up in the wrong places, and are tagging and categorizing everything [which is no small task on some sites]. But, it also gave me a chance to create a better user experience: With just a “quick edit” of categories & tags, and with better labels for the user—there now are sections for disorders, symptoms, ingredients, and practictioner-speak. It’s a much better experience. With plugins like Mass Categorization, we can even create these en masse.

BuddyPress aftermath

This migration really gives you a chance to review where data is, where it will be imported, and how you want it displayed. Comments, for example, cannot have categories or tags, but if they’re correctly placed under a relevant post with the right tags and categories, they’re still findable.

I’ve written quick WordPress guides for members moving over to this new site, focusing on images, as Zemanta and PhotoDropper are instrumental and not obvious to new users. As easy as WordPress is, plugins are not always intuitive.

Now we haven’t set up forums or groups, as he doesn’t need them yet, but this again is a quick import over from Ning, and preserving your members’ conversations is incredibly important for a growing membership site, especially in terms of SEO. The best thing, IMHO, is every user and his or her avatar moved over to the new site with all of their information, and Mitch can send everyone a personalized email telling them where to find their new member site, and log in using their old login and password, or get new credentials. The connections between their posts and comments stay correct. This is what migration should be. And, as each user can create a full-fledged profile, instant message each other and generally have a much better experience, and it’s a clear winner over Ning, especially without the monthly fees.

Support & what they don’t tell you

Boone Gorges of Teleogistic has been incredibly helpful in answering questions and an ongoing discussion with other users of this plugin—after all, no migration is perfect, so be prepared for flukes and figuring out data workarounds. But the data is intact, which is more than half the battle.

On the downside for BuddyPress: It’s incredibly popular among spammers. They’ll create accounts, post spam and generally create headaches. I’ve vacillated between Bad Behavior and WangGuard (July 2017 note: WangGuard is now discontinued, but check out WPMU’s Anti-Splog. It’s pricey but works.) for blocking spammers, and I’ve a few more tips in my BuddyPress presentation from May.

Overall, it’s a win: Improved user experience and less expensive & better WordPress admin. Features can be turned on and off at will, and you can encourage better engagement with a suite of tools. Now, where’s that next BuddyPress project?

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Lisa GhisolfCase study: Migrating from Ning to WordPress & BuddyPress