BuddyPress is a free software package that can be plugged in to WordPress to create a social networking website. For newcomers, think of BuddyPress as an out-of-the-box social networking website, complete with an administration area that lets you manage the site.

BuddyPress Logo

  • BuddyPress is a plugin for WordPress. BuddyPress is set up as a plugin that can be added to a WordPress site. It’s a large plugin, and it adds a lot of functionality.
  • It’s free. Like WordPress, it’s open-source software, which means you’ll never have to pay to download or use it.
  • It’s a social networking system, with features similar to Facebook. In a BuddyPress site, users can create and update their profiles, send private messages to one another, befriend and de-friend each other, form and join groups, participate in forum discussions, and more.
  • It’s a content management system. In conjunction with the WordPress engine that it runs on, BuddyPress lets you create and update content on your website.
  • It’s extensible with plugins. The functionality of a BuddyPress site can be extended with the use of plugins. Hundreds of BuddyPress plugins are available for free in the plugins directory. BuddyPress is compatible with many of the thousands of plugins that already exist for WordPress. If you need functionality that isn’t already offered, you can build a custom plugin.
  • It’s designed using themes. Just like a WordPress site, changing the look and feel of a BuddyPress site can be as simple as activating a new theme. Free and premium themes are available for BuddyPress, or you can design a custom theme.

BuddyPress Features

BuddyPress allows people to create fully featured social networking sites that are totally customizable. Out of the box, it comes with a set of features resembling Facebook and Twitter.

Core features:

  • Users can create and update profiles, including the use of profile photos. Site administrators can easily set up the parameters of the user profiles.
  • Users can befriend one another. The site owner can decide what special abilities friends have with regard to one another.
  • Users can send private messages. BuddyBoss comes with a robust private messaging system, similar to that found on Facebook. Users can choose whether or not to receive an email notification when someone sends them a message.
  • Users can form and join groups. Groups can be used for a wide range of functions within the website. Administrators can choose to let their users create and join groups of common interest.
  • Users can follow activity streams. BuddyPress activity streams provide a quick digest of the recent activity going on within a site or with regard to a particular user.
  • Users can create blogs. Capitalizing on the full functionality of WordPress, the most popular blogging platform in the world, BuddyPress gives administrators and users a full-featured online publishing platform.
  • Users can participate in forum discussions. BuddyPress is fully integrated with bbPress, a slick forum system.

How do I get started using BuddyPress?

There are two ways to get started with BuddyPress: you can set up your site yourself, or you can hire a developer.

Do it yourself

If you have experience with WordPress, or if you’ve built websites before, you should be able to install and configure BuddyPress with relative ease.

  1. The first step is to secure hosting. We recommend HostGator, where prices start at around $5 per month.
  2. The next step is to install WordPress. If you’re using HostGator, you should have access to an easy one-click install option.
  3. Once WordPress is set up, you need to install the BuddyPress plugin. In your site administration section, go into “Plugins”, click “Add New”, search “BuddyPress”, and follow the steps to install.
  4. Now you’ll need a good theme. BuddyBoss offers an excellent premium theme called BuddyBoss which can be used as-is, or customized easily to suit your needs.
  5. You’re all set up. Your next steps are to customize the design and functionality of your BuddyPress site, and to grow your community.

Hire a developer

An experienced BuddyPress development agency can be the difference between success and stagnation for your project. A quality agency will bring a lot to the table: they will guide you in making intelligent, informed decisions as you plan your project, they will help you to achieve a great design, they will ensure that your site has a smooth and enjoyable user experience, and they will bring valuable experience to show you how to grow an active community on your site.

Many development agencies work on an hourly basis. This gives you the freedom to buy as much or as little help as you need. Other agencies prefer to charge a lump sum per project. This method gives buyers a clearer idea of what the project will involve, but can create misaligned incentives as the project proceeds.

BuddyBoss offers development and consulting. Contact us to discuss your project.