Newbie Workflow and Features Questions

Hello Everyone,

Before I start I want to say what a well supported group this is. I am looking forward to building my site and offering a great service to my clients. I'm hoping to accelerate the process using the tools on the site but have a series of questions to get my head around what I'm trying to do.

I've loaded wpmu and buddypress successfully so no issues installing.

I have several clients primarly retail that I work with and most of these clients service small village style communities within larger cities. Much more close knit family run businesses but unfortunately the big box stores are putting alot of pressure on them. What we have alll been speaking about is building a business portal around the community, allowing each business to create blogs and advertising the central portal in the local papers to drive the whole social media aspect and make it really community oriented, allowing local residents to interact with one another, publish local events, allow residents to start groups, host pictures, video etc.

Here are my core questions for setup;

1.) Which theme would be ideal to use given the capabilities i'm after.
2.) Will this primary theme provide easy capabilities to allow each business to setup their own blog/features and benefits page.
3.) Can each business have their own URL to point to their blog ie. points to or points to
4.) Probably more advanced but would each business be able to directly purchase advertising chits and upload their own advertising message to their site and all depending how much they paid it you be pushed up to the community portal? alternatively would could charge a monthly fee and we would post it online for them.

Questions regarding functions in backend;

1.) Why is there a mu-plugin and plugin directory? When I load a plugin thatt instructions says to load into mu-plugin it doesn't show up in the plugin list. When I load it into the plugin directory it does show up and I can activate it. I did read that the mu-plugin loads automatically I'm assuming site-wide? is this correct.

2.) How do the sub-blogs gain access to the plugins? I tested out the email chimp plugin and when I logged in as a user it didn't show up. I did load it manually but does this mean the user has to do it. My question is more of function, if I setup a plugin for the main portal and if it is a feature that could be used for other blogs how do I make it available to the business member? I'm really trying to understand the difference between site-wide plugins.

3.) Let's say I have a photography studio and they currently have a wordpress blog, their theme is supported by wpmu. Would I load it into the regular theme section and activate it? if I do will it be available for other users to load? if it does how do I prevent that?

4.) With the photographer example if they have a photogallery is it possible to allow the photographer to load them into his/her blog and then it automatically loads them into the main community portal automatically? if so what photogallery would work best on the community portal?

5.) I setup a test theme and created a new member. Right now I am on bluehost so I had to use directories. the url for the new member looks like When I look at the admin that is the url and directory structure but when I look for it on the bluehost file manager I cannot find it.

I think these are my main questions. I know I have to spend some time getting it going but I've tried a couple of things and it seems to break. Hoping to learn more about this and get a working concept running quickly.

Thanks the the help in advance.


  • Sue
    • Recruit

    1.) Which theme would be ideal to use given the capabilities i'm after.
    I like to approach setting up a new site similar to like I would a new blog. Set up a few test users, blogs, create some blog posts, forum posts etc - i.e. use all the social features how you visualise your community might use.

    Once you have done that then try each of the BuddyPress themes on your main blog and work through each to see which aspects you like/don't like about each for what you are trying to do.

    2.) Will this primary theme provide easy capabilities.
    Most BuddyPress themes work similar to provide this.

    3.) Can each business have their own URL to point to their blog

    Yes using domain mapping -

    4.) Advertising
    I would check out the advertising plugins -

    However, if you want more detailed information on the advertising plugins I recommend that you write a new post in a new thread specifically with your questions on advertising. Each member of the team has their own specific areas of specialities and it is easy to miss questions if a post contains multiple questions on a wide range of topics,

    Function questions
    1.) Why is there a mu-plugin and plugin directory
    I recommend you read our BuddyPress Manual -

    Regular plugins are located in the “plugins” folder; they can be activated and deactivated on a per-blog level inside your blog dashboard via the Plugins page. Mu-plugins, on the other hand, are the plugins located in the “mu-plugins” folder; these are activated by default affecting all blogs on the installation.

    Some mu-plugins you will see extra menu items and pages added to the blogs or dashboard while others run in the background and you may not see evidence of them except in how they function.

    Always make sure you read the installation of a plugin as that will explain how it functions. For example, here is the project page for Add New User - and here is the installation page that explains how to use -

    2). How do the sub-blogs gain access to the plugins?

    Depends if it is a regular plugin or a mu-plugin. For mu-plugin it depends on what plugin. Refer to the installation page to find out. Some mu-plugins are for site admin users while others are for all users.

    Mailchimp is for the site owner i.e. site admin user. Mailchimp is for you and not your blog owners -

    3). With the photographer example and 4) I setup a test theme and created a new member.
    You need to write this as a new post in a new thread as their own seaparate questions because there are other members better suited to answering it than me.

  • Louis Zanolli
    • Flash Drive

    Sue is right on and if you're new to WP, the technologies are perfect for you. I’m new to WPMU myself but tech experienced.

    My background includes working with Google and the phone companies to build what you’re talking about but Google local is the best they could do. Your project better represents a group of businesses and your marketing can go a long way but first, each business should register with Google Local and Yahoo Local completely.

    1.) There is no perfect theme except the one you have custom made but even that has issues. Pick one that represents what you're about but you have to learn to manipulate it. The demos are demos so master WP and each theme will allow many looks and layouts beyond the demo example. Try several until it lays well, you understand how to change it and isn’t messy.

    2.) Some themes add function but most functions are added as plug-ins found at, individual's sites and the BuddyPress site.

    3.) Yep, as long as your host allows, so get a great host, not a cheap host and it will set most of this up for you if you use the domain mapping plug-in after set-up. The host needs to allow for Virtual Host Mapping, try and it will set up right on install, or it did yesterday.

    4.) Well, I would run advertising site wide but not charge for advertising on their own blog, would you pay to eat in your own house after buying the groceries and paying rent? They can highlight on their own site all they want, that’s the point.

    Each store could have sub-blogs of fans and employees too and for income use Supporter plug-in so the store owner and community can buy features. Do charge them for site wide advertising and I bet there are several plug-ins that will do just that, you must read for a while though.

    1.) Sue got this well, understand that the plug-in author has parameters and needs to make a feature work. To explain the why would vary a lot but as site admins, we rarely care about the structure unless we need something custom because these features need to know where they are and where their partner files are so simply follow the instructions and you’ll be fine.

    Don’t be in a hurry, learn the system over weeks and not days and don’t be afraid to read the help provided or click message links and understand you cannot put this on complete hands off auto-pilot. Someone must manage your efforts, daily. Expect a 6 month learning curve to master any good, feature rich software and pay attention to the screen.

    Yes there is an install feature for plug-ins and I have had a few install failures on both WP & WPMU auto-recognizing, but generally I try manual first and if that fails then auto without removing the files and it seems to work?

    Go to Plug-Ins/Add New
    Choose “term’ from the drop down
    Type “tag” (exp) and results can be installed be looking to the right

    Do understand, this is not a short term project, maybe more than a year to see it completed and if you are serious and want to avoid lawsuits for a disabled site that you promised to provide, you need assistance and someone that will get to really know the software.

    This is a moderate to difficult, time consuming, project for a newbie even with software like WP.

    2.) Plug-ins for sub-blogs are often put in the sub-blogs by adding a widget to the various “Member” widget positions versus site wide, non-member, widget positions.

    Make sure you log in as the Site Admin and not a plain Admin.

    I’m new here and Sue guided you but generally the main site has a newsletter, not each member but there may be a method to do so. Better yet is to find a mail server/newsletter company to keep the mail off your servers and find one that allows affiliates so they can sign-up on their own and place a little code in their blog.

    The affiliate link will be what pays you. Managing their individual newsletters could be a chore and there are companies that do this cost effectively and some hosts frown on busy internal newsletters as it might blacklist their mail server and slow the servers.

    Just because WP can doesn’t mean it should so google “newsletter service” and off load that so your site doesn’t crawl.

    3.) Good question, help! You add it, yes activate it and maybe Supporter is that granular to control it, I'm not sure because I haven't tried.

    4.) If you allow the space and find an appropriate gallery tool for your bloggers I think so for their own blog.

    Actually, look at the plug-ins here, there is a plug-in that controls what members have available in their panel I think, Help!

    Site wide would be specific to the gallery functions and not WPMU I think so you’ll have to search. If you’re not careful you might not end up with the result you want because it would have to pull random photos from galleries or one single gallery at a time.

    One gallery could work but a random show might be too random.

    Better to have the site admin take the best from members for a general gallery and make a custom site wide gallery for pay per clients.

    Or, tell the photographers they need a SmugMug account, all real photographers need this awesome tool and it can make them money, have them create a slide show there and charge to embed the code site wide and take off server load, just a copy and paste.

    5.) I think it might be handled virtually, in the db, so I’m not sure there is an actual /user1 folder, WP doesn’t have to have that structure I’m guessing, that’s for humans probably but there might be a folder structure in there, haven’t looked. It might also be a hidden folder due to permissions, go to the host console and view through their tool, not ftp. Any particular reason you need in a folder?

    Much Success,

    PS- Have you built database driven sites before? Is this your first site ever, first business site, do you know CSS, html, php, etc.? We might be better able to help if we knew your basic tech comfort level, this is a big project for a newbie but very doable.

  • Robert
    • Design Lord, Child of Thor

    Thanks Sue and Louis...

    for helping me out. I'm been burning the midnight oil to get this up and running. To answer you comment Louis, I agree that this is a big undertaking and I have a group of people to be able assist me but what I have found with programmers that I have used are somewhat slow and understand programming and not marketing. I do have a technical background but mostly marketing and what I wanted to do is build a sample test mockup so that not only my customers will understand but the developers working with me.

    Unfortunately I have been beating my head up against the wall and have decided to get this working so I have more involvement.

    As for programming I'm not literate. Programmers really see coding visually and I could never grasp it. Having said that if I'm pointed in the right direction I can manage to learn.

    I've been reading through many of the manuals and the support and information is great on here.

    Thanks again for the help so far.


  • James Farmer
    • CEO (of WPMU DEV, honest)

    Great feedback guys (esp u Louis, I say that to Sue all the time :slight_smile:

    @rbudnikas I'm no coder either - faaaar from it - but what we're aiming for at WPMU DEV is that people like us can produce amazingly functional (and pretty) sites without needing those skills.

  • Robert
    • Design Lord, Child of Thor

    Hi Guys,

    After a very frustrating day of reading through the forum and finally reinstalling I don't feel like I am any further ahead tonight. Really I feel like I wasted an entire weekend and all of monday.

    The problem is that there isn't one template that has at least 75% of what I need. each individual ones have a bit of something be it layout or functionality.

    I spent the day trying to figure out why I was getting a jquery error only to re-install everything and only to simply put every blog into a slideshow category and to be truthful that isn't even the solution I wanted.

    I simply want to add a slide show to the front page to display images calling it from a folder on the server yet nothing shows up on this site to do that.

    If you look at I have to believe that this is a buddypress template modified and if it is what is it based on and if it is a complete re-write then it is mis-leading to say you don't need to be a programmer.

    The video's don't say anything about what I am after and although sue and louis have been helpful where is everyone one else who has an opinion. can someone please point me in the right direction.



  • Sue
    • Recruit

    Hi Robert, the trouble is there are lots of questions in your one post and as highlighted before each member of the team has their own area of expertise. In this type of situation it is really easy to miss questions.

    For example, your latest question regarding slideshow category, jquery on a BuddyPress theme is best answers by one of our theme designers. I recommend you post that question in the Theme Support thread as a new topic - so it is easier for the theme designer to spot.

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