Best Themes / Plugins / etc for Online and Offline membership

I've purchased WPMUDev for a specific task, which is the running of a specific kind of Membership site.

The site will have a mix of members; Silver, Gold, Platinum type of levels.

Silver will be 'Online only'. Gold will be Online & Offline-Geographic based, and Platinum will be Gold plus other benefits, and will possibly include a wider Geographic area.

So there are levels and also geographic sets.

There will be some Digital downloads, some released as soon as a member joins, some on a drip-feed, and other content generated on a weekly / monthly basis available to all members and then archived.

There will be monthly meetings for the Gold and Platinum levels, and probably also bi-monthly webinars, and other regular and ad-hoc web-meetings (for which I anticipate using the Chat plugin).

There will be local Clubs and a National club.

There will be a Joining Fee and then Monthly fees.

There will be Facebook integration and a/some FB page/s, but I want to keep the chat OFF FB and IN the club, for privacy and archiving reasons.

I will need the ability for different sets of members to use chat rooms (from 2 to 50 members, probably); some of which would be set up by the Club and others able to be set up ad-hoc by members, which would be private to just those members but conversations archived and accessible by Admin.

So, I'm looking for a recommended mix of Theme(s?) and Plugins to accomplish this, or at least to start with, understanding that I can add other Plugins for other functions as I go.

I would also like to understand more about BuddyPress as opposed to WordPress, and if the Themes / Plugins are different for BP?

I have multiple Domain names, and am thinking I might link several sites for related subjects.

Am not sure if I need a multi-site or if the Social elements of this indicates a BP type site (from what I have read so far about BP, although, that isn't a lot.)

Thanks for your help. (I did post a version of this Q last week but it had some slightly commercial info so the thread was deleted.)

  • Patrick

    Hiya @Rob

    Welcome to the forums, glad to have you aboard!

    Well, that's a very good description of your project. Thanks for all the details, it helps!

    You will most definitely need a membership management system like our Membership plugin can provide.

    It can handle all your needs for membership subscriptions & access levels, fees, drip-fed content, digital downloads (uploaded to folders you designate as "protected" in Membership), etc.

    Our Chat plugin sounds like it was made just for you. :slight_smile:

    Combine the above 2 with BuddyPress and you and/or your members can create any groups you/they need. The Chat plugin integrates perfectly well with BP groups, so group admins can set up chat rooms accessible only to members of their group.

    There are also oodles of plugins designed to enhance the functionality of BuddyPress. Just take a look through some of the results here:
    http://wordpress.org/plugins/search.php?q=buddypress

    You don't really need a multisite install unless you or your users will need/want additional sites in a network. However, if you do want to easily manage separate sites via different domain names, then you may want consider a multisite network with our Domain Mapping plugin. That way, each sub-site in the network can be mapped to distinct domain names, your site visitors will be none the wiser, and you can manage 'em all from a single dashboard.

    As for your theme requirements, that would depend on several factors, not the least of which are your customization skills, the corporate image you want to project, what focus you want to put on your content versus your members and their content, etc.

  • Rob

    Patrick,

    Thanks for your note.

    Re Themes - whilst realising that the Plugins can operate with probably almost any of the themes, and also having no knowledge of the themes here; are ther perhaps 2 or 3 or 4 Themes that you could recommend as likely to be more useful for a project such as this?

    I hope to get a membership-experienced programmer to help with this, but won't want to do much theme customisation; would prefer to pick one which is generally suitable and work with that and the plugins for functionality.

    The members would all be SME (SMB) businesses, ranging from Plumbers to Swimming Pool Installers, Accountants to Retailers (so pretty wide range), and hence why there would be sub-sets as well as Geo groups.

    So the Corp image would be 'Professional, Business, Informative, Relevant and Helpful' I guess ('defined' on the spot, not really thought through).

    The Chat plugin was one of the reason for choosing WPMUdev - and of course it can be used in / with other product sets but thought I'd be better off with a 'product family' rather than too much mix n match.

    The BP groups does seem to me be a way forward too. The BP integration was another factor in deciding on WPMUdev, although, I haven't had the chance to go through that much yet. Should I pick a BP specific theme over others, or, can you run any of the WP themes with BP?

  • Patrick

    Hi again @Rob

    Thanks for the additional info.

    Should I pick a BP specific theme over others, or, can you run any of the WP themes with BP?

    Since version 1.7 of BuddyPress, that's no longer an issue as it was reworked to fit seamlessly with any WordPress theme that respects WP coding standards.

    Professional, Business, Informative, Relevant and Helpful

    Both Blogs-MU and BP-Social would be good choices. The front-page of Blogs-MU puts more focus on your services, while BP-Social puts the focus on community content.

    Any known issues with Membership, Chat, or eCommerce, with either of those?

    None at all. Both themes work just dandy with our plugins. :slight_smile:

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