Setting up a Single user or Multiuser Site (Community) that Supports Vendors and More

Like most excited newbie’s, I wanted a site, a multiuser site and I wanted it now. In the recent past I had a Yahoo site up and running, but soon ran face first into it limitations, so I moved on and discovered Orble.com , where I resided for a couple of years and others solved tech problems. There, I created several blogs and posted several hundred posts [nearly a thousand actually] but eventually, our relationship soured. Orble management promised to share earnings generated from my blogging efforts with me, but I only wanted ownership of my material and let them keep their money. However, when they started censoring my work in a heavy handed way, I left their ranks, confident that I could set up my own operation.

Soon afterwards, I chose a domain name or three, registered them through GoDaddy and hosted them with Host Gator and sort of got them running as single user domains but what I really wanted was a community portal but didn’t know what that involved. I had not bothered to learn how to manage my sites or to read up and learn or study about Word Press, because I had ‘experience’ and confidence in my innate abilities in spite of the fact that my day to day management details had been passed to a acquaintance via DNS forwarding to his servers. You can read more here about my prime mistake: Keeping Notes Can Save Your Behind well, guess what, preplanning could have helped save my behind also; because I have observed that behavior in a great many other newbie’s, with that in mind, I am sharing these suggestions.

Step 1: Search for Word Press installation information from your computer, save an image or a site that inspires you, get a book on Word Press basics and do some reading until you have an idea of how to solve problems or to at least recognize a problem.

Step 2: Plan what you want your site to look like and what its primary function is to be. You will do yourself a huge favor by drafting a plan of how you envision your end environment will generally look, and build it up slowly. Here is the link to a search on the topic WebSite Sketches this is a starting point to clarify your idea.

Step 3: Decide whether or not you want to bother or have the experience to host your site locally, because to accommodate higher traffic loads, a commercial hosting service will serve you better. I do not recommend GoDaddy for newbie’s, they will host WP sites, but do not make a habit of supporting individual WP installation problems; their staff generally are not trained to be of any real assistance with WordPress issues.

Step 4: I suggest that you install WP with you host and make use of the default TwentyTen theme to begin with, get it running smoothly and then add plugins or widgets that meet your needs.

Step 5: Try another theme and upload it and its child theme (if available) , and experiment with them one at a time until you find something close to what you are looking for in a theme.

Step 6: When you have settled on a theme, decide about using plugins to add features you may want. Go through the list of available plugins for WPMUDev and Buddypress and upload only those that may be useful to your concept, installing them but do not activate them immediately. After your basic site is stable, activate plugins one at a time and test each individually, if a plugin works for your plan and doesn't cause problems leave it activated, and then try activating another plugin until you have weeded out the best from the rest and then delete those you don't plan to use.

Step 7: You can use settings, plugins and even widgets to limit or improve your user’s choices and their dashboard options. Remember, without enough freedom, you will likely not have many users and their help to promote your website.

Step 8: Learn, learn to ask questions, learn to look for web answers, learn to utilize WPMUDev manuals, live support, and ebooks or conventional books to get the basics down pat or you will face a very arduous learning curve and things do not need to be that tough.

Here are some links to WPMUDev and Buddypress Plugins you might consider.

Community Plugins:
https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/site-categories/

https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/communities/

https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/classifieds/

https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/new-blog-template/

https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/buddypress-hide-widgets/

https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/site-categories/

Multisite Plugins:
https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/pro-sites/

https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/e-commerce/

https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/easy-blogging/

https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/multi-domains/

https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/e-newsletter/

https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/wordpress-chat-plugin/

https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/classifieds/

https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/new-blog-template/

https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/add-new-users/

https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/social-marketing/

https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/default-theme/


https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/admin-message/

https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/remove-permalinks-menu-item/


https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/remove-wordpress-dashboard-widgets/

https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/simplemarket/


https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/appointments-plus/

The active links are provided because, as a beginner/newbie, these would have kept some of the pressure I felt to a minimum. Take care, and most of all, have fun.

  • bee_bixby

    Thank you for sharing all of your wisdom and learned experience. I feel like I am getting more confused the more I read. Is there a way to discuss the decisions I am thinking of making and changes to the site before I actually do it?

    For instance: my site http://www.bix-bee.org has a slider on the main page. Everyone really likes it but I struggle to get any of the plugins to work with it. I searched for a theme here that would be compatible but when I activated the theme (network) it looks like I have to start from scratch to transfer over all the information that is already on the site. Can you help direct my path?

  • tlcorbin

    Hello, bee_bixby, I visited your site and it is a gem.

    Thank you for sharing all of your wisdom and learned experience. I feel like I am getting more confused the more I read. Is there a way to discuss the decisions I am thinking of making and changes to the site before I actually do it?

    We can treat exchanges as IM's here, which allows others to share their view points and experience with you. By letting information free flow, you have a broader range of options to choose from.

    I searched for a theme here that would be compatible but when I activated the theme (network) it looks like I have to start from scratch to transfer over all the information that is already on the site. Can you help direct my path?

    Is this the Network theme you were looking at? Are you set up for a multi-site with your hosting service? It looks like you may be, but I would rather have you confirm the fact one way or the other. It looks like an interesting theme.

    Are you wanting a totally different theme offering that is a little more stable and field tested? If so, Edublogs Homepage or Edublogs bbPPress would be Buddypress candidates for you to add to your selection of themes, they have a long history and work with a great many of the established Buddypress plugins. Take a look at those two and see if they might be viable options for you.

    Bee, making major changes to your site is always going to be a slow process, because there really is no way to guarantee results when adding a variety of different tools [plugins and themes] together to create a consistent end result. When you choose which new theme to go with, there will be some tweaking that will need to occur, but it should not require starting from scratch. Your information will still be available, and just needs to be directed to how and where it will be displayed. However, you have paid subscribers to contend with, and you do not want to disrupt their access to your services.

    That being the case, I would recommend that you set up a duplicate site that is not available for public viewing through your hosting service, or set up as a local host on your home computer. That way you can test and perfect your new theme without impacting your day to day services. And when satisfied with the changes, make the switch.

    So, look at the themes, let me know which ones have the basic features that you really need and lets get you moving forward with confidence.

    tlcorbin

  • bee_bixby

    Thank you very much for your input and for keeping in mind I am new at this. I am not a developer and do not fully understand all of the technical talk just yet. I do not believe that I am a multi-site user. I tried to move a .com over to a .org but basically the same name. My theme is http://www.elegantthemes.com/gallery/thecorporation/
    and I have tried many different avenues to get the All-in-One Event Calendar by Timely and Buddy press to work. I run into too many problems that I don't know how to fix. I thought that perhaps it was because of using an "outside" theme.

    How do I set up a "local host on my computer" as you suggest to test out a theme?

  • tlcorbin

    Hello, bee_bixby, others are experiencing some problems with that Events plugin.

    If you have a PC click on this link and download the version for windows or download and install the version for MAC.

    Once installed, click on this link to download WP-3.4.2 and then click this link to install wp into xampp follow the guide for a step by step guide to install Word Press into xampp.

    Xampp will install into C:\Xampp\wordpress\ that wordpress will contain your wp-admin, wp-content and wp-includes folders and your wp-.php files, along with a note or two. You will need to know about the location of these files for later uses.

    Once xampp is runninig, do not try to add a root password into the MySQL database, you can add a new user [you] and set a password so that you can access your datebase, but leave the root alone-it is fine, leave it alone.

    Once that is completed, you can download themes and plugins to begin placing them into the themes or plugin directory's of the wp-content folder.

    That will keep you entertained for a bit, and I will check in to see how you are doing with things. BTW, have you checked with your hosting service about setting up a test site? It should not cost you anything to do so, and for that, all you would need to do is to copy files over to your new test site after it is set up. And, they will probably walk you through the process.

    This process will take a few days so do not be in a huge hurry, you will have folks monitoring your progress, so you are not going to find yourself abandoned.

    tlcorbin

  • bee_bixby

    Thank you Mr. Corbin. I appreciate your compliments and encouragements. I now have a test site as recommended. Can you tell me... most of the plugins that I want to "play" with now all say that my members can also login and have access. How do I mass upload my excel spreadsheet? After that is successful, does that mean they will now have access to any plugin that gives user access? or is there another step?

  • tlcorbin

    Hello, bee-bixby, where is your test site located? Is the test site installed on your home computer or has it been set up with your hosting service?

    Because you did not mention the test site as a local install, I will assume that you have the test site set up through your hosting service.

    The wordpress installation process installs three wordpress folders containing the files that make wordpress work, they are wp-admin, wp-content and wp-includes. The folder that contains the files we need to work with are located within the wp-content folder. The list of those files from my wp-content folder:

    wp-content:
    1-2012
    2-blogs.dir
    3-plugins
    4-themes
    5-upgrade
    6-uploads

    I gave them the numerical id's. Your collection of plugin files need to be uploaded into the #3 file, plugins file of your test site.

    To upload a group of files use an ftp client (FileZilla is stable and easy to use). You will need to contact your hosting service and get your ftp access information. Chances are they will guide you through the process.

    Or better yet, the hosting service will have a direct means to upload files, to install them and activate them. Once you have tested and approved a plugin, they can be copied over into your main site and from there you can make them available to your clients.

    tlcorbin

  • bee_bixby

    Thanks again. Sorry I wasn't clear, yes the host server walked me through the process on setting up a test site through them. They also said that they would help me move over whatever updates I get working properly. I really appreciate the tip.

    So if I understand your note above correctly, you are saying that all of my plugin files should load into the sub folder you id'd as #3 plugins. If they are all located there properly, does this then connect my members with their subscriber capabilities?

    So for instance, I upload the plugin for an event calendar and an e newsletter and I already have the capability of the blog. Are the contact that I upload into my wp database as a user now going to be able to just choose which information they want to get on a regular basis from the plugins? or am I missing some steps?

    So far every event calendar struggles with keeping the pictures working properly on my site.

  • tlcorbin

    Hello bee-bixby, yes, they will show up for your clients, but you must first select the plugins and themes that are to be available to your subscribers and activate them for the entire network, this is done in the WP-network dashboard-your personal blog will also reflect the same limitations. These regular subscribers will share a central database.

    However, your sub-domains will have their own list of plugins and themes, and separate databases, because, as in my case, each has had their own WP-3.4.2 installation; but, you can audit their files and restrict them to a larger select group of options from your hosting account. Sub-domain would be for your paying subscribers or for your top income generators.

    These sub-domains can have their own subscribers, but must stay within the boundaries that you set for the owner of that sub-domain. Does that help?

    There seems to be a new version (1.5.1) of the events plugin published 12-14-2012, is that the version you are using?

    There also appears to be a pro version available for $75.

    I hope that this is useful information for you.

    tlcorbin

  • bee_bixby

    I am sorry but I don't understand the sub domains. I think the only sub domain of my site is the new test site that I created thanks to you.

    Here is what I want to do: I want to have a calendar, newsletter, and blog posts and I want people to be able to choose which media they want to subscribe to. I want this subscriber base to be managed in one central location.

    Is this possible with wordpress and plugins?

  • tlcorbin

    Hello bee_bixby, a general response to your question, in a word, YES.

    Did you activate your site as a multi-site?

    Look this theme over LINK or LINK2 either of these themes work with the following, BPLINK, or BPe-NewsLINK, subscribe to blogs LINK and perhaps this Comment LINK.

    So these theme and plugins work together to produce part of experience that you want for your clients. The plugins may work with your present site, if not-try one of the other themes with those plugins and see if they produce the results that you want.

    Truthfully, there are a lot of false starts made in developing the perfect mix of themes, tweaks, plugins and widget for creating the website of your dreams. But, you are on the right path.

    tlcorbin

  • bee_bixby

    Thanks again. I appreciate the confirmation of being on the right path. I was debating about Link1 that you have above. I just wasn't sure that all of my users would be in one central database for all of the different plugins.

    Why should I consider it a Multi-site? I am sorry I don't understand how that benefits me. I just have the one business at this point and would like to know what your perspective is on creating this as a multi-site.

    Does giving you points help you for all the great help you have been for me?

  • tlcorbin

    Hello bee_bixby, sorry to be so slow responding to your post, I have been busy doing "man stuff," (as my wife calls it) so that I can get rid of a job shack that has been setting in my yard for a very long time.

    It's a multi-site because you share it with others and can control to various degrees how much or how little their access is to various parts of your hosting service. Setting it up as a multi-site now, allows you time to get used to the expanded dashboard features and you only need to add users and their sub-domain name to get them pointed in the direction you would like them to go as a member of your multi-site. Or, it can just set in the background forever, it won't hurt anything, but it stands ready for your use when the time is right for you to use it.

    Points do help, but I don't do it for the points, your thank you is far more valuable than points. I do this to try to help beginners (like myself) to get a better grasp on what's happening and to help you maintain your focus. I literally wasted years making false starts that may not have occurred had someone pointed out my other options, or false steps even. That is one of the best parts of being a member of WPMU Dev, it isn't generally a shark infested pool.

    I hope you don't have to shovel snow today, like someone else that I know does, grumble . . .

    tlcorbin

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