Adding a community element to your site is an excellent way of taking ownership of your own audience and building a long-term relationship with them that will turbocharge your business.
Not only does bbPress (the forum software created by the same people who make WordPress) integrate very easily into WordPress, it’s also very similar to it in that it often takes a number of plugins to get it working the way you’d like.
In this post we’ve got 15 very good ones for you. These plugins will allow you to extend bbPress’ features to get it running the way you want your forum to run.
Are you thinking about setting up a social network for your university’s onesie appreciation society? Are you suffering analysis paralysis after installing BuddyPress because you don’t know which boxes you should tick? Or maybe you’ve set up version 1.7 and have a truck load of questions?
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
In this guide I’ll go through the ins and outs of BuddyPress, or as everyone and their dog likes to call it, social networking in a box.
What is BuddyPress?
Why you should use it
Who uses it
The future of BuddyPress
Okay, So What Is BuddyPress?
bbPress 2.2 is now available. This the third major release for the bbPress project and it’s awesome. Your forums will not be left hanging when you upgrade to WordPress 3.5 and BuddyPress 1.7. The good news is that bbPress is already one step ahead and fully compatible with upcoming releases.
You may have noticed everyone raving about the latest bbPress release on Twitter. That’s because 2.2 is packed full of all kinds of goodness:
Added What’s New and Credits pages
WordPress 3.5 and BuddyPress 1.7 ready
Improved user roles and capabilities
Improved theme compatibility
Improved BuddyPress Group Forums integration
Improved forums convertion tool
bbPress Protected Forums is a new plugin that allows you to set role-based posting restrictions for new topic creation in specific forums. After you install and activate the plugin, you will see a new metabox when editing a forum where you can disable new topic creation for specific user roles.
Did you know that there is a way to completely reset your bbPress forums? This lesser-known option is hidden under the Tools >> Forums menu item in the dashboard. This is an option that you will rarely need but can be very handy for cleaning out your forums. It erases your forums, topics, replies, meta data, settings, activity, forum user roles and importer helper data.
What Can Geolocation Do For You?
With the introduction of this and other similar user-friendly geolocation plugins (great explanation of what it does here), the challenge of discovering where your visitors/users/customers are coming from and directing them to content that meets their needs has largely been met. A host of new plugins are now working on trying to extend the functions and uses of geolocation for your WordPress website.
The number of extensions for bbPress is growing rapidly. bbPress Topic Location is a new plugin from G.Breant that lets you add geolocation information to bbPress topics. It is powered by W3C Geolocation so the plugin can actually guess your current location if your browser has this feature.
After you activate the plugin, you’ll get a new “topic location” field added to the new topic form.
Topics will appear in the topics list with their locations beneath them.
The bbPress plugin is a great option for providing your users with a forum that integrates seamlessly with WordPress, almost as if it were a natural part of the core. The goal is to keep it as speedy and light as possible. Therefore, the bbPress plugin doesn’t include everything you need for a full-featured forum for WordPress. You’ll need to add in functionality via plugins.
I’ve selected some of the best current add-ons for bbPress. These plugins will help you to be able to provide a smooth experience as well as many of the commonly-expected features of a standalone forum.
There’s a new independent BuddyPress theme on the market called BuddyBox. It’s a professional theme focused on gaining new signups and created to be versatile enough to be used with many different kinds of communities.
The BuddyBox theme has several interesting features worth noting, including uniquely designed real time activity streams that auto update:
Directory pages are designed with a grid-style layout:
The BuddyBox theme focuses on encouraging signups to your community. The registration and login forms are custom designed to reinvent the clunky default WordPress interface. New users can easily register and quickly begin using the website: