Front-end Buddypress alternatives


I’m building a site that needs SOME community features:

* Attractive user profiles

* Internal messaging system

* “Friend” capabilities

* Instant messaging

Yes, there’s BuddyPress — but it’s a bit bloated with features I don’t really need. But most importantly, the profiles look really terrible. (Unless you use a theme specifically designed for Buddypress, which I’m not. Or custom-design some BP templates, which is out of my league right now).

I’m liking the look of the Ultimate Member plugin, and may use that for beautiful profiles. But the extensions are expensive, and I don’t want to spend so much for functionality that’s free with BuddyPress.

I know WPMUDEV has their own Friends, Messaging, and Communities plugins, but I don’t want the backend dashboard to be accessible at all for my users, and these don’t seem to have front-end capabilities. Are there other plugins or methods that can make these front-end ready? Oh, and I’ve used your Chat plugin on other sites with BuddyPress, but don’t know how to integrate it well with a non-BP site. I want a way to initiate chats on the front-end!

My dream is to be able to use the beautiful Ultimate Members profiles, but integrate adding friends and some sort of messaging/chat capability ON the front-end for logged-in users. Anyone know if there’s a solution for me out there?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!!