Upgrade With Ease: How to Keep Your Users Informed and Satisfied During BuddyPress Maintenance
Many eagerly-anticipated changes are coming to BuddyPress in the near future. Version 1.2 is slated for a December release. If you haven’t yet checked out the new default theme, you can see a preview here: http://testbp.org/. The current default BuddyPress theme will still be an option and included as the “classic” theme. Core improvements and new theme options are both compelling reasons to upgrade as soon as possible. Here are a few WPMU / BuddyPress specific tools to help you make a smooth transition for your users when upgrading your installation. These plugins will serve to keep your users informed before, during, and after your maintenance for an ideal upgrade experience.
Before: Send a Quick Newsletter to All Your Members Notifying of Updates
The Sitewide Newsletter plugin works with your WPMU database in order to send an email to all of your users. If you have an active community, you may want to send out a quick notification to inform them of down time and to generate some interest in the improvements that will be soon be available to them. Any emails that fail will be shown in a list in your dashboard. This plugin makes it easy to send a sitewide newsletter in a couple of minutes. Download the plugin here.
During: Put BuddyPress in Maintenance Mode While You Upgrade
Give your site a little cosmetic assistance while you bring in new features and work out bugs. This is a simple plugin that will allow you to put your BuddyPress site in maintenance mode with one click and restrict access to your users while you work behind the scenes. Its options are under Settings >> BP Maintenance where you can enable a custom message for users attempting to visit your site. You can also specify which paths you’d like to keep open while the maintenance occurs, i.e. forums or members. Download the plugin here.
After: Keep Members Updated with a Slick Welcome Slider on Your BuddyPress Homepage
Bowe Frankema has an excellent tutorial and download package at bp-tricks.com for implementing a jquery welcome slider on your BuddyPress homepage. This can be useful for informing your users of new features after an upgrade or redesign. You can enhance your community by including clearly visible instructions for how users can create groups, add friends, and participate. When users are used to a routine on your site, changes can be unwelcome and unsettling if they come without any explanation. There will always be users who resist the new features, simply because they don’t know how to use them. BuddyPress is about to get some major improvements to its core, and you don’t want to lose members or traffic due to a failure to connect with users in their new experience. This homepage slider is a great tool to help your new and current users find their way around your site. Check out the live demo and download the package here.