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bbPress Forums for WordPress: A Quick Guide

Discussion forums have been around for almost as long as the internet itself. Even before the World Wide... read more

How to Grow Your Online Community with WordPress

As a flexible content management system that’s here to stay, WordPress is an excellent place to set up... read more

10 Expert Practices for Multilingual WordPress Websites – WPExplorer

A multilingual website offers content, products and/or services for their readers in multiple languages. Often when you start... read more

How to Setup a Membership Site with WordPress & MemberPress

MemberPress is an impressive tool that will give you the ability to turn your WordPress website into a... read more

Top Tools to Build an Online Store with WordPress

If you’re looking for a way to earn money online, opening your own e-commerce store is a great... read more

How to Organize Content on Your WordPress Website

While the content you write for your blog is important, so too is the way in which you... read more

10 Common WordPress Theme Issues & How To Fix Them

There are thousands of forum posts opened everyday not only on WordPress.org but also on other forums and... read more

Breaking Down Barriers: Why WordPress Website Accessibility Is Key

In this post I’m going to show you why it is so important to make your WordPress website... read more


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August 2017

bbPress Forums for WordPress: A Quick Guide


Discussion forums have been around for almost as long as the internet itself. Even before the World Wide Web became popular, people were sharing information and discussing topics using terminal server bulletin board systems. In fact, my very first experiences with the Internet back in 1998 revolved around the chat rooms and discussion forums on AOL (boy do I look back nostalgically at those halcyon days).

The modern discussion forum retains the core idea of what is now a very well-established concept — sharing information and discussing topics — but has evolved into a lightweight plugin for WordPress that can be installed in a matter of minutes.

I am talking about bbPress – the WordPress forum software built by the very guys who created WordPress itself. In this post I am going to explain exactly what bbPress is, why you may need it, and also show you how to install it.

Why You Need bbPress

Total WordPress Theme & bbPress

The feature-set of bbPress is nowhere near as comprehensive as dedicated forum software such as phpBB or vBulletin, so why use it? There are a few compelling reasons why.

  1. It’s lightweight. Forum software is traditionally bloated, full of security holes, and a real drain on your server. The latest version of bbPress (v2.5.13) is simple to use and open source – so you can tweak the plugin as necessary.
  2. It’s fully integrated with WordPress. This benefit goes beyond the ease of installation. bbPress takes advantage of the WordPress user management system, and has access to the vast WordPress plugin repository, where you’ll find a decent number of specific bbPress compatible plugins. One of these is BuddyPress, a template for a WordPress-based social network that actually uses bbPress to power its forums.
  3. Customization is easy. bbPress has a unique advantage over other forum software when it comes to customizing the styling for your forum. Since it’s built for WordPress there are many amazing themes (like the Total WordPress Theme) designed specifically for bbPress so changing the look for your forum is as easy as changing your theme.

If you want to start a traditional bulletin board or new social network then bbPress probably isn’t for you (although do check out BuddyPress as a basis for the latter!)

However, if you want to add a community element to an existing blog or a support area for your clients, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something better suited than bbPress.

What Is bbPress?

Any site owner should understand what’s going on within their plugins. bbPress is simply three custom post types, some layout templates, a system of shortcodes, a couple of widgets, and CSS code. That’s why it’s called lightweight!

Custom post types

The three custom post types are:

  1. Forums: which holds each discussion forum you create, allowing a hierarchy of forums to be created
  2. Topics: which holds each discussion thread (the title and opening post)
  3. Replies: which holds each individual reply to a topic

Layouts

The standard layout templates are suitable for most instances. For example, the topics layout will display a list of topics with the following information:

  • Topic name
  • Who started the topic and in which forum they started it
  • The number of people engaged in conversation (voices)
  • The number of replies to the topic
  • (And possibly) How long ago the last reply was and who made it

bbPress Topics Page

The various elements can be styled with CSS to better fit your blog, but if you want to make substantial changes to the structure, you’ll need to be comfortable with PHP or purchase a theme like Total that offers custom styling options built-in.

Shortcodes and Widgets

bbPress makes it simple to display the various elements of the forum wherever you want to through a series of shortcodes and widgets. This is actually an incredibly powerful feature, allowing you to consider usability and responsive design.

For example, you can create a page listing the latest topics with a selection of the most popular posts highlighted in your sidebar by using just one short code and one widget. If you decide you prefer a more traditional forum layout listing the categories, you can switch things around in minutes.

To give you a feel for the flexibility, check out the codex to view all 19 bbPress shortcodes.

The included widgets are:

  • Forums list
  • Recent replies
  • Recent topics
  • Topic views list
  • Search
  • Login widget
  • Statistics

The login widget is especially useful, displaying a login form to visitors, and a profile link to logged-in users.

Installation

If you decide to give bbPress a go, installation couldn’t be simpler.

Install bbPress via the WordPress Directory

Just search for bbPress in the WordPress plugin directory, hit install, and you’re done (or, if you want to use the plugin as a basis for development, or just to take a closer look, you can download a copy from the WordPress plugin repository).

bbPress WordPress Forums

Install bbPress via a WordPress Theme

Your other option is to install the plugin via your WordPress theme (if it offers the option). For example, the Total WordPress theme is not only fully compatible with bbPress but it includes a ready to go, easy import bbPress demo.

Install Total bbPress Demo

Simply head over to Themeforest and buy Total (one of the highest rated and popular drag & drop WordPress themes on the web), install & activate it, then navigate to Theme Panel > Demo Importer (note: this is unique to Total, most themes will not include this awesome and easy to use feature).

From here search for “bbpress” then click on the demo to begin.

Install bbPress Plugin

Once you click Total will prompt you to install any required plugins, which in this case includes bbPress. Simply click on each plugin to install and activate.

Import Total bbPress Content

With that done Total offers you the option to specify which parts of the demo you’d like to import. For the Total bbPress demo be sure all boxes for XML sample data, images, theme customizer settings and widgets are set to have your website looking identical to the live demo.

Total bbPress Demo Import Complete

When the import is complete you should see a message like the one above. This means your sample content and bbPress are ready to go!

Basic bbPress Setup

Once bbPress is installed and active, you’ll notice the three new custom post types in the admin menu, and a bbPress page in the Settings menu.

Before you dive in and create the forum of your dreams, spend some time in the settings menu. Navigate to Settings > Forums.

bbPress Spam Settings

In particular, you’ll want to tweak the spam settings, including:

  • Throttle Time: the minimum number of seconds allowed between new replies from the same user
  • Allow Anonymous Posting: Disable this to require a user to register for an account to post a topic or a reply

Once you’ve done this, it’s good to create a number of sample forums, topics, and replies (preferably from several different user accounts) before you start to tweak the design. With dummy data you’ll be more likely to spot things that need fixing with CSS, particularly on mobile devices. Lucky for you, if you’ve chosen to use the Total theme sample demo you’re all set to move on to customizations!

Customizing bbPress

To customize bbPress you really need to be a developer… or use one of the following cheater methods to customize your forum styling without knowing how to code.

Option 1: Use Your Theme Settings

First off, if you did decide to use a theme that offers added bbPress options you should look there first. Navigate to Appearance > Customize to edit options.

bbPress Live Customizer Options

Specifically under the bbPress section (like the one in Total) to select the default page layout for forums, topics and user pages. After that utilize settings under Typography for custom fonts and under General Theme Options for accent colors, Page Header Title selections, Forms styling, Links & Buttons customizations and more to make the design match your branding.

Option 2: Use a Live CSS Editor Plugin

If by chance your theme doesn’t offer any styling options, or simply not the ones you’re looking for you might want to consider a live CSS editor plugin. These plugins allow you to point, click and edit elements of your website using easy styling options (no code required). Here are our two favorites:

  • Yellow Pencil: This plugin is one of our favorites. Simply install and click “Let’s Start” to begin customizing your website! Want to learn more? Checkout our full Yellow Pencil user guide to see how the plugin works and what features are included.
  • CSShero: Similar to the previous plugin, CSShero offers a super easy to use point & click interface to edit styles, colors, fonts, spacing and more. Take a look at how this plugin works in our CSShero guide for customizing WordPress.

Recommended bbPress Add-on Plugins

As mentioned earlier, bbPress is easy to extend through a large number of plugins. Here are a handful we think you might like to consider to add more features and options to your forums.

Ultimate Member bbPress Addition

Add options for easy user signup, advanced profiles and even memberships with the Ultimate Member plugin. This extensible option fully integrates with bbPress so you can offer your forum members more to enjoy.

More about Ultimate Member →

bbp Style Pack

Want to add a few basic styling options for your bbPress forum? Give bbp Style Pack a try. This free plugin adds options to customize styling, links, display features and more.

More about bbp Style Pack →

bbPress Notify (No Spam)

This plugin sends an email notification to users when new topics and/or replies are posted. It’s useful if you’re operating a support forum and need a particular person to respond to questions in a particular forum, for example.

More About bbPress Notify →

GD bbPress Tools

One of the more comprehensive bbPress plugins available, this adds BBCode support, user signatures, additional custom views, in-reply quotes, plus some additional admin features.

More about GC bbPress Tools →

The Best Forum Solution?

It’s lightweight, quick, and easy to install, but is bbPress the best forum solution for your WordPress blog? There’s only one way to find out — grab a copy, install it on your site and start experimenting!

Now it’s time to get your feedback. Are you a bbPress user? Do you consider bbPress to be the best forum solution for WordPress users, or do you prefer an alternative solution? What’s your experience of adding a community element to your blog?

Please give us your answers to the above questions in the comments sections below. Alternatively, if you have any other comments or questions, please fire away!



Source link

How to Grow Your Online Community with WordPress


As a flexible content management system that’s here to stay, WordPress is an excellent place to set up your online community. However, you may only be accustomed to using the platform for blogging, and not sure how to best adapt it for a community website.

Fortunately, you can create just about any type of online community you can imagine, thanks to the variety of relevant plugins that seamlessly integrate with WordPress. There are tools that will help you build fan sites, support networks, interest-based groups, and more.

In this post, we’ll talk about why you might want to create an online community in the first place. Then we’ll highlight a few of the best plugins for doing so, and introduce their key features. Let’s get started!

Why to Create an Online Community

Envato Forum

A forum is a great example of a community site that enables users to come together and discuss a niche topic.

An online community – such as a forum, social media network, web page, or membership site – is a platform where like-minded individuals can join together. These communities can be intended for support, for networking, or even just for fun.

Creating your own community brings a number of benefits, whether you’re a business owner, a blogger, or just someone looking for a place to hang out online. For example:

  • If you’re a business owner, it can help you to stand out among your competitors and more deeply engage your target audience.
  • If you’re a blogger or influencer, you have the ability to reach out to a specific, niche audience and build a dedicated readership.
  • No matter what your community site’s purpose is, you can control its content and design, unlike on a restrictive platform such as Facebook.

Of course, every community site has its own unique purpose and goals. Fortunately, WordPress makes it possible to design yours to meet your community’s needs with a number of useful plugins.

How to Expand Your Online Community

We’ve chosen the five tools below carefully, focusing on ratings, reviews, and key features. While it’s not an all-inclusive list, we believe these are the best choices to get you started on the right foot, or help you expand your existing site. Let’s jump in!

1. BuddyPress

BuddyPress plugin

BuddyPress enables you to create a social media network for your colleagues, special interest group, family, or anyone else. It offers a simple but customizable platform for building and engaging with your community.

With BuddyPress, the members of your network can build personal profiles, connect with other users, and even create and interact within their own groups. You get all the benefits of your own, exclusive social media platform, without any coding required.

The best thing about BuddyPress is that it’s free, and there are a lot of other plugins that expand its functionality. For example, User Blog gives network members the ability to contribute blog posts, while Member Types gives you control over different membership groups and their abilities.

2. User Submitted Posts

User Submitted Posts plugin

User Submitted Posts enables you to turn your WordPress site into a multi-author blog. This is similar to the BuddyPress-compatible plugin User Blog, but with more functionality.

As a standalone plugin, User Submitted Posts is a great option for sites with a content focus. Whether you’re running a hobby group, industry community, or special interest website, your users can become part of the community by offering their own insight and experience. Of course, this plugin enables you to fully control the posts that are approved. To enable those posts, you simply need to copy and paste a shortcode onto a page, post, or widget.

The plugin is free, and includes a basic submission form and limited support. However, you can upgrade for as little as $40 and receive a lifetime of updates, full support, and additional submission form customization options.

3. Facebook Page Plugin

Facebook Page Plugin

Facebook Page Plugin is a lightweight feed plugin that enables you to bring your active Facebook community – and all its followers – onto your WordPress site.

With the addition of a shortcode on a page, post, or widget, you can add your Facebook feed directly to your WordPress community website. Even better, users can interact with your feed – liking, sharing, and commenting – all without leaving your website!

This plugin’s simplicity and clean design make it a great addition to any site. Plus, its easy-to-use dashboard makes customization simple. As with the other plugins mentioned on our list, Facebook Page Plugin is absolutely free to use.

4. Simple Membership

Simple Membership plugin

Simple Membership is a website membership plugin that’s lightweight, user friendly, and customizable. With this plugin installed, you can easily create a membership site for your online community.

Whether you want to build a more private site – only allowing approved members to participate – or offer varying permissions to different membership levels, this plugin will do the job. Simple Membership enables you to create unlimited subscription levels, both free and paid. With paid subscriptions, you have the additional benefit of accepting secure payments through PayPal.

This plugin is free and, as it focuses on simplicity, no additional plugins or add-ons are offered. It is fully functional on its own, and will get you up and running in no time.

5. bbPress

bbPress plugin

bbPress is a forum plugin that enables you to create a full-featured forum on your WordPress website, and it’s a great way to get the conversation started on your blog. Since forums are a simple way to connect with like-minded individuals, this is a great plugin choice if you want to get your online community started quickly.

What’s more, this plugin is well-designed for both for beginners and experienced forum moderators. With bbPress, you can set up and moderate your forums easily. In addition, you can divide your site into sections, and even allow user-created content.

As open source software, bbPress is free to download and use. Also, there are many bbPress-compatible plugins – such as Private Replies and Notify (No Spam) – that extend the tool’s functionality and improve its user experience.

Conclusion

Whether you want to offer support, build a fanbase, or provide a place for like-minded individuals to hang out, WordPress is a great platform for creating your online community. In fact, there are dozens of plugins available for that very purpose.

In this post, we’ve introduced you to five of our recommended community-building plugins. To recap, they include:

  1. BuddyPress: A social network plugin that helps you create your own WordPress-integrated social platform.
  2. User Submitted Posts: A community-building plugin that provides users with the ability to submit their own posts.
  3. Facebook Page Plugin: An advanced Facebook feed plugin that enables users to interact with your integrated Facebook page on your website.
  4. Simple Membership: A membership site plugin that enables you to create unlimited membership levels, free or paid.
  5. bbPress: A fully-functional plugin you can use to create your own community forum.

Which of these community-building plugins interests you most, and why? Let us know in the comments section below!



Source link


Grid

bbPress Forums for WordPress: A Quick Guide


Discussion forums have been around for almost as long as the internet itself. Even before the World Wide Web became popular, people were sharing information and discussing topics using terminal server bulletin board systems. In fact, my very first experiences with the Internet back in 1998 revolved around the chat rooms and discussion forums on AOL (boy do I look back nostalgically at those halcyon days).

The modern discussion forum retains the core idea of what is now a very well-established concept — sharing information and discussing topics — but has evolved into a lightweight plugin for WordPress that can be installed in a matter of minutes.

I am talking about bbPress – the WordPress forum software built by the very guys who created WordPress itself. In this post I am going to explain exactly what bbPress is, why you may need it, and also show you how to install it.

Why You Need bbPress

Total WordPress Theme & bbPress

The feature-set of bbPress is nowhere near as comprehensive as dedicated forum software such as phpBB or vBulletin, so why use it? There are a few compelling reasons why.

  1. It’s lightweight. Forum software is traditionally bloated, full of security holes, and a real drain on your server. The latest version of bbPress (v2.5.13) is simple to use and open source – so you can tweak the plugin as necessary.
  2. It’s fully integrated with WordPress. This benefit goes beyond the ease of installation. bbPress takes advantage of the WordPress user management system, and has access to the vast WordPress plugin repository, where you’ll find a decent number of specific bbPress compatible plugins. One of these is BuddyPress, a template for a WordPress-based social network that actually uses bbPress to power its forums.
  3. Customization is easy. bbPress has a unique advantage over other forum software when it comes to customizing the styling for your forum. Since it’s built for WordPress there are many amazing themes (like the Total WordPress Theme) designed specifically for bbPress so changing the look for your forum is as easy as changing your theme.

If you want to start a traditional bulletin board or new social network then bbPress probably isn’t for you (although do check out BuddyPress as a basis for the latter!)

However, if you want to add a community element to an existing blog or a support area for your clients, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something better suited than bbPress.

What Is bbPress?

Any site owner should understand what’s going on within their plugins. bbPress is simply three custom post types, some layout templates, a system of shortcodes, a couple of widgets, and CSS code. That’s why it’s called lightweight!

Custom post types

The three custom post types are:

  1. Forums: which holds each discussion forum you create, allowing a hierarchy of forums to be created
  2. Topics: which holds each discussion thread (the title and opening post)
  3. Replies: which holds each individual reply to a topic

Layouts

The standard layout templates are suitable for most instances. For example, the topics layout will display a list of topics with the following information:

  • Topic name
  • Who started the topic and in which forum they started it
  • The number of people engaged in conversation (voices)
  • The number of replies to the topic
  • (And possibly) How long ago the last reply was and who made it

bbPress Topics Page

The various elements can be styled with CSS to better fit your blog, but if you want to make substantial changes to the structure, you’ll need to be comfortable with PHP or purchase a theme like Total that offers custom styling options built-in.

Shortcodes and Widgets

bbPress makes it simple to display the various elements of the forum wherever you want to through a series of shortcodes and widgets. This is actually an incredibly powerful feature, allowing you to consider usability and responsive design.

For example, you can create a page listing the latest topics with a selection of the most popular posts highlighted in your sidebar by using just one short code and one widget. If you decide you prefer a more traditional forum layout listing the categories, you can switch things around in minutes.

To give you a feel for the flexibility, check out the codex to view all 19 bbPress shortcodes.

The included widgets are:

  • Forums list
  • Recent replies
  • Recent topics
  • Topic views list
  • Search
  • Login widget
  • Statistics

The login widget is especially useful, displaying a login form to visitors, and a profile link to logged-in users.

Installation

If you decide to give bbPress a go, installation couldn’t be simpler.

Install bbPress via the WordPress Directory

Just search for bbPress in the WordPress plugin directory, hit install, and you’re done (or, if you want to use the plugin as a basis for development, or just to take a closer look, you can download a copy from the WordPress plugin repository).

bbPress WordPress Forums

Install bbPress via a WordPress Theme

Your other option is to install the plugin via your WordPress theme (if it offers the option). For example, the Total WordPress theme is not only fully compatible with bbPress but it includes a ready to go, easy import bbPress demo.

Install Total bbPress Demo

Simply head over to Themeforest and buy Total (one of the highest rated and popular drag & drop WordPress themes on the web), install & activate it, then navigate to Theme Panel > Demo Importer (note: this is unique to Total, most themes will not include this awesome and easy to use feature).

From here search for “bbpress” then click on the demo to begin.

Install bbPress Plugin

Once you click Total will prompt you to install any required plugins, which in this case includes bbPress. Simply click on each plugin to install and activate.

Import Total bbPress Content

With that done Total offers you the option to specify which parts of the demo you’d like to import. For the Total bbPress demo be sure all boxes for XML sample data, images, theme customizer settings and widgets are set to have your website looking identical to the live demo.

Total bbPress Demo Import Complete

When the import is complete you should see a message like the one above. This means your sample content and bbPress are ready to go!

Basic bbPress Setup

Once bbPress is installed and active, you’ll notice the three new custom post types in the admin menu, and a bbPress page in the Settings menu.

Before you dive in and create the forum of your dreams, spend some time in the settings menu. Navigate to Settings > Forums.

bbPress Spam Settings

In particular, you’ll want to tweak the spam settings, including:

  • Throttle Time: the minimum number of seconds allowed between new replies from the same user
  • Allow Anonymous Posting: Disable this to require a user to register for an account to post a topic or a reply

Once you’ve done this, it’s good to create a number of sample forums, topics, and replies (preferably from several different user accounts) before you start to tweak the design. With dummy data you’ll be more likely to spot things that need fixing with CSS, particularly on mobile devices. Lucky for you, if you’ve chosen to use the Total theme sample demo you’re all set to move on to customizations!

Customizing bbPress

To customize bbPress you really need to be a developer… or use one of the following cheater methods to customize your forum styling without knowing how to code.

Option 1: Use Your Theme Settings

First off, if you did decide to use a theme that offers added bbPress options you should look there first. Navigate to Appearance > Customize to edit options.

bbPress Live Customizer Options

Specifically under the bbPress section (like the one in Total) to select the default page layout for forums, topics and user pages. After that utilize settings under Typography for custom fonts and under General Theme Options for accent colors, Page Header Title selections, Forms styling, Links & Buttons customizations and more to make the design match your branding.

Option 2: Use a Live CSS Editor Plugin

If by chance your theme doesn’t offer any styling options, or simply not the ones you’re looking for you might want to consider a live CSS editor plugin. These plugins allow you to point, click and edit elements of your website using easy styling options (no code required). Here are our two favorites:

  • Yellow Pencil: This plugin is one of our favorites. Simply install and click “Let’s Start” to begin customizing your website! Want to learn more? Checkout our full Yellow Pencil user guide to see how the plugin works and what features are included.
  • CSShero: Similar to the previous plugin, CSShero offers a super easy to use point & click interface to edit styles, colors, fonts, spacing and more. Take a look at how this plugin works in our CSShero guide for customizing WordPress.

Recommended bbPress Add-on Plugins

As mentioned earlier, bbPress is easy to extend through a large number of plugins. Here are a handful we think you might like to consider to add more features and options to your forums.

Ultimate Member bbPress Addition

Add options for easy user signup, advanced profiles and even memberships with the Ultimate Member plugin. This extensible option fully integrates with bbPress so you can offer your forum members more to enjoy.

More about Ultimate Member →

bbp Style Pack

Want to add a few basic styling options for your bbPress forum? Give bbp Style Pack a try. This free plugin adds options to customize styling, links, display features and more.

More about bbp Style Pack →

bbPress Notify (No Spam)

This plugin sends an email notification to users when new topics and/or replies are posted. It’s useful if you’re operating a support forum and need a particular person to respond to questions in a particular forum, for example.

More About bbPress Notify →

GD bbPress Tools

One of the more comprehensive bbPress plugins available, this adds BBCode support, user signatures, additional custom views, in-reply quotes, plus some additional admin features.

More about GC bbPress Tools →

The Best Forum Solution?

It’s lightweight, quick, and easy to install, but is bbPress the best forum solution for your WordPress blog? There’s only one way to find out — grab a copy, install it on your site and start experimenting!

Now it’s time to get your feedback. Are you a bbPress user? Do you consider bbPress to be the best forum solution for WordPress users, or do you prefer an alternative solution? What’s your experience of adding a community element to your blog?

Please give us your answers to the above questions in the comments sections below. Alternatively, if you have any other comments or questions, please fire away!



Source link

How to Grow Your Online Community with WordPress


As a flexible content management system that’s here to stay, WordPress is an excellent place to set up your online community. However, you may only be accustomed to using the platform for blogging, and not sure how to best adapt it for a community website.

Fortunately, you can create just about any type of online community you can imagine, thanks to the variety of relevant plugins that seamlessly integrate with WordPress. There are tools that will help you build fan sites, support networks, interest-based groups, and more.

In this post, we’ll talk about why you might want to create an online community in the first place. Then we’ll highlight a few of the best plugins for doing so, and introduce their key features. Let’s get started!

Why to Create an Online Community

Envato Forum

A forum is a great example of a community site that enables users to come together and discuss a niche topic.

An online community – such as a forum, social media network, web page, or membership site – is a platform where like-minded individuals can join together. These communities can be intended for support, for networking, or even just for fun.

Creating your own community brings a number of benefits, whether you’re a business owner, a blogger, or just someone looking for a place to hang out online. For example:

  • If you’re a business owner, it can help you to stand out among your competitors and more deeply engage your target audience.
  • If you’re a blogger or influencer, you have the ability to reach out to a specific, niche audience and build a dedicated readership.
  • No matter what your community site’s purpose is, you can control its content and design, unlike on a restrictive platform such as Facebook.

Of course, every community site has its own unique purpose and goals. Fortunately, WordPress makes it possible to design yours to meet your community’s needs with a number of useful plugins.

How to Expand Your Online Community

We’ve chosen the five tools below carefully, focusing on ratings, reviews, and key features. While it’s not an all-inclusive list, we believe these are the best choices to get you started on the right foot, or help you expand your existing site. Let’s jump in!

1. BuddyPress

BuddyPress plugin

BuddyPress enables you to create a social media network for your colleagues, special interest group, family, or anyone else. It offers a simple but customizable platform for building and engaging with your community.

With BuddyPress, the members of your network can build personal profiles, connect with other users, and even create and interact within their own groups. You get all the benefits of your own, exclusive social media platform, without any coding required.

The best thing about BuddyPress is that it’s free, and there are a lot of other plugins that expand its functionality. For example, User Blog gives network members the ability to contribute blog posts, while Member Types gives you control over different membership groups and their abilities.

2. User Submitted Posts

User Submitted Posts plugin

User Submitted Posts enables you to turn your WordPress site into a multi-author blog. This is similar to the BuddyPress-compatible plugin User Blog, but with more functionality.

As a standalone plugin, User Submitted Posts is a great option for sites with a content focus. Whether you’re running a hobby group, industry community, or special interest website, your users can become part of the community by offering their own insight and experience. Of course, this plugin enables you to fully control the posts that are approved. To enable those posts, you simply need to copy and paste a shortcode onto a page, post, or widget.

The plugin is free, and includes a basic submission form and limited support. However, you can upgrade for as little as $40 and receive a lifetime of updates, full support, and additional submission form customization options.

3. Facebook Page Plugin

Facebook Page Plugin

Facebook Page Plugin is a lightweight feed plugin that enables you to bring your active Facebook community – and all its followers – onto your WordPress site.

With the addition of a shortcode on a page, post, or widget, you can add your Facebook feed directly to your WordPress community website. Even better, users can interact with your feed – liking, sharing, and commenting – all without leaving your website!

This plugin’s simplicity and clean design make it a great addition to any site. Plus, its easy-to-use dashboard makes customization simple. As with the other plugins mentioned on our list, Facebook Page Plugin is absolutely free to use.

4. Simple Membership

Simple Membership plugin

Simple Membership is a website membership plugin that’s lightweight, user friendly, and customizable. With this plugin installed, you can easily create a membership site for your online community.

Whether you want to build a more private site – only allowing approved members to participate – or offer varying permissions to different membership levels, this plugin will do the job. Simple Membership enables you to create unlimited subscription levels, both free and paid. With paid subscriptions, you have the additional benefit of accepting secure payments through PayPal.

This plugin is free and, as it focuses on simplicity, no additional plugins or add-ons are offered. It is fully functional on its own, and will get you up and running in no time.

5. bbPress

bbPress plugin

bbPress is a forum plugin that enables you to create a full-featured forum on your WordPress website, and it’s a great way to get the conversation started on your blog. Since forums are a simple way to connect with like-minded individuals, this is a great plugin choice if you want to get your online community started quickly.

What’s more, this plugin is well-designed for both for beginners and experienced forum moderators. With bbPress, you can set up and moderate your forums easily. In addition, you can divide your site into sections, and even allow user-created content.

As open source software, bbPress is free to download and use. Also, there are many bbPress-compatible plugins – such as Private Replies and Notify (No Spam) – that extend the tool’s functionality and improve its user experience.

Conclusion

Whether you want to offer support, build a fanbase, or provide a place for like-minded individuals to hang out, WordPress is a great platform for creating your online community. In fact, there are dozens of plugins available for that very purpose.

In this post, we’ve introduced you to five of our recommended community-building plugins. To recap, they include:

  1. BuddyPress: A social network plugin that helps you create your own WordPress-integrated social platform.
  2. User Submitted Posts: A community-building plugin that provides users with the ability to submit their own posts.
  3. Facebook Page Plugin: An advanced Facebook feed plugin that enables users to interact with your integrated Facebook page on your website.
  4. Simple Membership: A membership site plugin that enables you to create unlimited membership levels, free or paid.
  5. bbPress: A fully-functional plugin you can use to create your own community forum.

Which of these community-building plugins interests you most, and why? Let us know in the comments section below!



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10 Expert Practices for Multilingual WordPress Websites – WPExplorer


A multilingual website offers content, products and/or services for their readers in multiple languages. Often when you start an online business it is limited to a specific community or region, but by the time you plan to expand you should consider to catering to a larger demographic.

For example, a website in western or central Canada is initially developed for English speakers only. Being a small business, it has an English language version, but as soon as it reaches out to the french community it becomes mandatory to create a parallel website in the French language. In the same manner, when a blogger starts writing for a community or cause in one language, but want to spread his words to other regions and ethnicities, they may need to turn their blog into a multilingual website.

If you are planning to expand your online shop or business website to other territories, do not forget to create a blog section before adding translated versions. Blog for PrestaShop is one of the interactive tools to incorporate a publishing corner on your eCommerce website, whereas you can also seek the assistance of a developer to write code for your online store. This tool is specifically for the online shops powered by PrestaShop, whereas you can find similar modules for Magento or even build an online store with WooCommerce.

Standalone eCommerce platforms like Magento and PrestaShop have built in features and support to setup a multilingual website, whereas with WordPress it’s often best to install an additional plugin for it. Following are some of the expert practices and a few helpful plugins you should keep in mind while creating international language versions of your website.

1. Language Switching with Flawless Translation

Weglot Multilingual WordPress Plugin

A multilingual WordPress website expects to serve people from varying linguistic backgrounds. For this purpose, most of the webmasters create multiple copies of the same website in different languages and enable switching between them. Auto-switching language according to the users’ location is one of the reliable solutions, whereas leaving it to the discretion of users is also a worth considering option. This auto or manual language switching allows users to browse posts or products in their native language.

There are tools and browsers that offer an auto translation of a web page which is discouraged by the experts. Because these applications are unable to interpret the message a website needs to convey. Word by word translation from one language to another can never replicate the exact message that’s why translation by professionals is a recommended practice.

However, there are a few premium plugins that make the translation process much easier. Our #1 pick is Weglot, since it offers a custom translation API as well as the option to upgrade to a professional translation by a recommended provider. We also love WPML, which helps to streamline the process of creating and managing multiple translations for your website.

2. Bridge Cultural Differences

In addition to the language your target audience uses, there is a need to understand their cultural differences as well while configuring a multilingual WordPress site. It takes into account the use of language, tone, and concepts that are commonly known and are not harmful to any of their traditions. Care has to be taken in designing logos, banners, and symbols that are not obscene for a community and the colors shall be selected that do not symbolize anything respective in a specific culture.

3. Enable Easy Access to a Specific Language

Creating multiple views with respect to a different language is one of enticing marketing techniques to outreach a greater audience, but it work perfectly well if they can easily access the pages. Suppose, you create a French variant of a product page, but the people from France may be unable to find it if an option is not provided on the main landing page. A recommended practice is to create an option either on the top left or right corner of every page that clarifies the current page language and provide access to other languages as well.

Again, if you’re wondering how to translate your WordPress website into multiple languages you’re best bet is to use a plugin. Most will add a helpful button, toggle or dropdown on your website pages to make navigating between languages extremely easy for your readers.

4. Carefully Select a URL Structure

It is always a wise decision to select an independent domain name for your business for promotion through different platforms and search engines. Once you select the core domain name, then decide upon how you need to represent the language versions within the URL. For example, to have a localized version of your store for France, you can select any of the three methods mentioned below,

  • www.YourStore.fr (country code Top Level Domain)
  • fr.YourStore.com (having a sub-domain for language or region)
  • YourStore.com/fr/ (creating a subdirectory for a language)

Experts often recommended the third method that is creating subdirectories for each language as it is an affordable and easy to manage alternative.

5. Translate Each Tagline

Translate WordPress Taglines

Creating a multilingual website means delivering an ultimate experience of browsing and shopping in a familiar or native language. Translating the body text, product name, and description will not work if the tag lines are written in a default language. Try to fully optimize a web page with a language and do not miss a single corner. It may require you to harmonize the overall translation that includes every tag line, page content, values and figures, product name in URL, error or greeting messages, email notifications, etc.

Again, this should be easy to handle with your translation plugin however it’s important that your theme is translation ready for the plugin to work properly. If the developer coded their theme the right way (like WPExplorer has with the Total WordPress theme) you should be able to easily target various theme content, including titles and taglines, for translation. If not, you can checkout this guide on how to localize and translate WordPress themes (though this is only advised for intermediate to advanced WordPress users).

6. Make Every Language Comparable

Most digital businesses start with the English language by default and gradually expand to different regions and communities through a multilingual website. The text and design created for the first time are very robust, whereas the additional language versions are merely translated for the sake of reaching out to other communities. This may create a gap between the understanding and first impression of your English (by default) site and the translated versions.

Ensure every language is comparable to the standard one when your make your WordPress site multilingual. The merchants and sellers need to frequently review and compare multi-lingual page views to eradicate any difference, and bring it in-line with the overall vision and goals of the business.

7. Deliver Customer Support to All Listed Languages

wordpress helpdesk plugins knowledge-base

Customer support symbolizes the back bone of your business and incorporating the same facility in your multilingual website works like a charm. It encourages users to interact with your team through informal live chat and calls. Offering such a support for multiple languages is difficult, but quite manageable for large size enterprises and corporate concerns. It may require the business owners to recruit an entire team of support agents to handle queries in different languages.

Small and medium size businesses may hardly follow this practice because they have a simple infrastructure and low budget to acquire a support team. Initially, they can start a support department for the major languages and keep on hiring agents for more languages as the business expands. To better integrate support, give the Knowledge Base Helpdesk & Wiki plugin a try. Not only does this plugin feature multilingual options, but it uses an intuitive interface that makes finding and receive help much easier for your customers (and for your staff).

8. Achieve Consistency Across Language Versions

Equally design features, functionality, options and content represent consistency across your local and international websites. The design and content may vary according to the rules and traditions of any specific regions, but the overall appearance and layout need to be similar. It helps you gain credibility among the regional audiences as they find the same products offered to another region in their respective language and currency.

9. Promotion and Outreach

Performance Optimization and Tracking

Draft a multilingual marketing strategy with WordPress to reach out to the communities who would like to show interest in your products and services. The outreach campaign may include social media marketing, email marketing, search engine optimization, and any other method that is fruitful in a specific region. You may also need to develop key performance indicators (KPIs) to execute the success rate of the marketing efforts.

10. Carry on SEO According to Regional Preferences

Google is surely a dominant search engine but still, there are some regions that discourage using it. A multilingual website that aims to reach people across the borders must take into account the preferred search engines of their target audience. For example, people of China prefer to use the Baidu search engine, whereas Bing is quite popular in France and United Kingdom. So, while developing SEO strategies, do include the websites which can give you more return from a specific region.

Conclusion

The core purpose of developing a multilingual website is a global outreach. A website that serves people of a language to confined to a country or two. But, the addition of multiple languages doubles the outreach by attracting people from different regions and dialect. By understanding the global aspects and demand of your products, you can also decide to create such a website with the help of above- discussed practices.



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bbPress Forums for WordPress: A Quick Guide


Discussion forums have been around for almost as long as the internet itself. Even before the World Wide Web became popular, people were sharing information and discussing topics using terminal server bulletin board systems. In fact, my very first experiences with the Internet back in 1998 revolved around the chat rooms and discussion forums on AOL (boy do I look back nostalgically at those halcyon days).

The modern discussion forum retains the core idea of what is now a very well-established concept — sharing information and discussing topics — but has evolved into a lightweight plugin for WordPress that can be installed in a matter of minutes.

I am talking about bbPress – the WordPress forum software built by the very guys who created WordPress itself. In this post I am going to explain exactly what bbPress is, why you may need it, and also show you how to install it.

Why You Need bbPress

Total WordPress Theme & bbPress

The feature-set of bbPress is nowhere near as comprehensive as dedicated forum software such as phpBB or vBulletin, so why use it? There are a few compelling reasons why.

  1. It’s lightweight. Forum software is traditionally bloated, full of security holes, and a real drain on your server. The latest version of bbPress (v2.5.13) is simple to use and open source – so you can tweak the plugin as necessary.
  2. It’s fully integrated with WordPress. This benefit goes beyond the ease of installation. bbPress takes advantage of the WordPress user management system, and has access to the vast WordPress plugin repository, where you’ll find a decent number of specific bbPress compatible plugins. One of these is BuddyPress, a template for a WordPress-based social network that actually uses bbPress to power its forums.
  3. Customization is easy. bbPress has a unique advantage over other forum software when it comes to customizing the styling for your forum. Since it’s built for WordPress there are many amazing themes (like the Total WordPress Theme) designed specifically for bbPress so changing the look for your forum is as easy as changing your theme.

If you want to start a traditional bulletin board or new social network then bbPress probably isn’t for you (although do check out BuddyPress as a basis for the latter!)

However, if you want to add a community element to an existing blog or a support area for your clients, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something better suited than bbPress.

What Is bbPress?

Any site owner should understand what’s going on within their plugins. bbPress is simply three custom post types, some layout templates, a system of shortcodes, a couple of widgets, and CSS code. That’s why it’s called lightweight!

Custom post types

The three custom post types are:

  1. Forums: which holds each discussion forum you create, allowing a hierarchy of forums to be created
  2. Topics: which holds each discussion thread (the title and opening post)
  3. Replies: which holds each individual reply to a topic

Layouts

The standard layout templates are suitable for most instances. For example, the topics layout will display a list of topics with the following information:

  • Topic name
  • Who started the topic and in which forum they started it
  • The number of people engaged in conversation (voices)
  • The number of replies to the topic
  • (And possibly) How long ago the last reply was and who made it

bbPress Topics Page

The various elements can be styled with CSS to better fit your blog, but if you want to make substantial changes to the structure, you’ll need to be comfortable with PHP or purchase a theme like Total that offers custom styling options built-in.

Shortcodes and Widgets

bbPress makes it simple to display the various elements of the forum wherever you want to through a series of shortcodes and widgets. This is actually an incredibly powerful feature, allowing you to consider usability and responsive design.

For example, you can create a page listing the latest topics with a selection of the most popular posts highlighted in your sidebar by using just one short code and one widget. If you decide you prefer a more traditional forum layout listing the categories, you can switch things around in minutes.

To give you a feel for the flexibility, check out the codex to view all 19 bbPress shortcodes.

The included widgets are:

  • Forums list
  • Recent replies
  • Recent topics
  • Topic views list
  • Search
  • Login widget
  • Statistics

The login widget is especially useful, displaying a login form to visitors, and a profile link to logged-in users.

Installation

If you decide to give bbPress a go, installation couldn’t be simpler.

Install bbPress via the WordPress Directory

Just search for bbPress in the WordPress plugin directory, hit install, and you’re done (or, if you want to use the plugin as a basis for development, or just to take a closer look, you can download a copy from the WordPress plugin repository).

bbPress WordPress Forums

Install bbPress via a WordPress Theme

Your other option is to install the plugin via your WordPress theme (if it offers the option). For example, the Total WordPress theme is not only fully compatible with bbPress but it includes a ready to go, easy import bbPress demo.

Install Total bbPress Demo

Simply head over to Themeforest and buy Total (one of the highest rated and popular drag & drop WordPress themes on the web), install & activate it, then navigate to Theme Panel > Demo Importer (note: this is unique to Total, most themes will not include this awesome and easy to use feature).

From here search for “bbpress” then click on the demo to begin.

Install bbPress Plugin

Once you click Total will prompt you to install any required plugins, which in this case includes bbPress. Simply click on each plugin to install and activate.

Import Total bbPress Content

With that done Total offers you the option to specify which parts of the demo you’d like to import. For the Total bbPress demo be sure all boxes for XML sample data, images, theme customizer settings and widgets are set to have your website looking identical to the live demo.

Total bbPress Demo Import Complete

When the import is complete you should see a message like the one above. This means your sample content and bbPress are ready to go!

Basic bbPress Setup

Once bbPress is installed and active, you’ll notice the three new custom post types in the admin menu, and a bbPress page in the Settings menu.

Before you dive in and create the forum of your dreams, spend some time in the settings menu. Navigate to Settings > Forums.

bbPress Spam Settings

In particular, you’ll want to tweak the spam settings, including:

  • Throttle Time: the minimum number of seconds allowed between new replies from the same user
  • Allow Anonymous Posting: Disable this to require a user to register for an account to post a topic or a reply

Once you’ve done this, it’s good to create a number of sample forums, topics, and replies (preferably from several different user accounts) before you start to tweak the design. With dummy data you’ll be more likely to spot things that need fixing with CSS, particularly on mobile devices. Lucky for you, if you’ve chosen to use the Total theme sample demo you’re all set to move on to customizations!

Customizing bbPress

To customize bbPress you really need to be a developer… or use one of the following cheater methods to customize your forum styling without knowing how to code.

Option 1: Use Your Theme Settings

First off, if you did decide to use a theme that offers added bbPress options you should look there first. Navigate to Appearance > Customize to edit options.

bbPress Live Customizer Options

Specifically under the bbPress section (like the one in Total) to select the default page layout for forums, topics and user pages. After that utilize settings under Typography for custom fonts and under General Theme Options for accent colors, Page Header Title selections, Forms styling, Links & Buttons customizations and more to make the design match your branding.

Option 2: Use a Live CSS Editor Plugin

If by chance your theme doesn’t offer any styling options, or simply not the ones you’re looking for you might want to consider a live CSS editor plugin. These plugins allow you to point, click and edit elements of your website using easy styling options (no code required). Here are our two favorites:

  • Yellow Pencil: This plugin is one of our favorites. Simply install and click “Let’s Start” to begin customizing your website! Want to learn more? Checkout our full Yellow Pencil user guide to see how the plugin works and what features are included.
  • CSShero: Similar to the previous plugin, CSShero offers a super easy to use point & click interface to edit styles, colors, fonts, spacing and more. Take a look at how this plugin works in our CSShero guide for customizing WordPress.

Recommended bbPress Add-on Plugins

As mentioned earlier, bbPress is easy to extend through a large number of plugins. Here are a handful we think you might like to consider to add more features and options to your forums.

Ultimate Member bbPress Addition

Add options for easy user signup, advanced profiles and even memberships with the Ultimate Member plugin. This extensible option fully integrates with bbPress so you can offer your forum members more to enjoy.

More about Ultimate Member →

bbp Style Pack

Want to add a few basic styling options for your bbPress forum? Give bbp Style Pack a try. This free plugin adds options to customize styling, links, display features and more.

More about bbp Style Pack →

bbPress Notify (No Spam)

This plugin sends an email notification to users when new topics and/or replies are posted. It’s useful if you’re operating a support forum and need a particular person to respond to questions in a particular forum, for example.

More About bbPress Notify →

GD bbPress Tools

One of the more comprehensive bbPress plugins available, this adds BBCode support, user signatures, additional custom views, in-reply quotes, plus some additional admin features.

More about GC bbPress Tools →

The Best Forum Solution?

It’s lightweight, quick, and easy to install, but is bbPress the best forum solution for your WordPress blog? There’s only one way to find out — grab a copy, install it on your site and start experimenting!

Now it’s time to get your feedback. Are you a bbPress user? Do you consider bbPress to be the best forum solution for WordPress users, or do you prefer an alternative solution? What’s your experience of adding a community element to your blog?

Please give us your answers to the above questions in the comments sections below. Alternatively, if you have any other comments or questions, please fire away!



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How to Grow Your Online Community with WordPress


As a flexible content management system that’s here to stay, WordPress is an excellent place to set up your online community. However, you may only be accustomed to using the platform for blogging, and not sure how to best adapt it for a community website.

Fortunately, you can create just about any type of online community you can imagine, thanks to the variety of relevant plugins that seamlessly integrate with WordPress. There are tools that will help you build fan sites, support networks, interest-based groups, and more.

In this post, we’ll talk about why you might want to create an online community in the first place. Then we’ll highlight a few of the best plugins for doing so, and introduce their key features. Let’s get started!

Why to Create an Online Community

Envato Forum

A forum is a great example of a community site that enables users to come together and discuss a niche topic.

An online community – such as a forum, social media network, web page, or membership site – is a platform where like-minded individuals can join together. These communities can be intended for support, for networking, or even just for fun.

Creating your own community brings a number of benefits, whether you’re a business owner, a blogger, or just someone looking for a place to hang out online. For example:

  • If you’re a business owner, it can help you to stand out among your competitors and more deeply engage your target audience.
  • If you’re a blogger or influencer, you have the ability to reach out to a specific, niche audience and build a dedicated readership.
  • No matter what your community site’s purpose is, you can control its content and design, unlike on a restrictive platform such as Facebook.

Of course, every community site has its own unique purpose and goals. Fortunately, WordPress makes it possible to design yours to meet your community’s needs with a number of useful plugins.

How to Expand Your Online Community

We’ve chosen the five tools below carefully, focusing on ratings, reviews, and key features. While it’s not an all-inclusive list, we believe these are the best choices to get you started on the right foot, or help you expand your existing site. Let’s jump in!

1. BuddyPress

BuddyPress plugin

BuddyPress enables you to create a social media network for your colleagues, special interest group, family, or anyone else. It offers a simple but customizable platform for building and engaging with your community.

With BuddyPress, the members of your network can build personal profiles, connect with other users, and even create and interact within their own groups. You get all the benefits of your own, exclusive social media platform, without any coding required.

The best thing about BuddyPress is that it’s free, and there are a lot of other plugins that expand its functionality. For example, User Blog gives network members the ability to contribute blog posts, while Member Types gives you control over different membership groups and their abilities.

2. User Submitted Posts

User Submitted Posts plugin

User Submitted Posts enables you to turn your WordPress site into a multi-author blog. This is similar to the BuddyPress-compatible plugin User Blog, but with more functionality.

As a standalone plugin, User Submitted Posts is a great option for sites with a content focus. Whether you’re running a hobby group, industry community, or special interest website, your users can become part of the community by offering their own insight and experience. Of course, this plugin enables you to fully control the posts that are approved. To enable those posts, you simply need to copy and paste a shortcode onto a page, post, or widget.

The plugin is free, and includes a basic submission form and limited support. However, you can upgrade for as little as $40 and receive a lifetime of updates, full support, and additional submission form customization options.

3. Facebook Page Plugin

Facebook Page Plugin

Facebook Page Plugin is a lightweight feed plugin that enables you to bring your active Facebook community – and all its followers – onto your WordPress site.

With the addition of a shortcode on a page, post, or widget, you can add your Facebook feed directly to your WordPress community website. Even better, users can interact with your feed – liking, sharing, and commenting – all without leaving your website!

This plugin’s simplicity and clean design make it a great addition to any site. Plus, its easy-to-use dashboard makes customization simple. As with the other plugins mentioned on our list, Facebook Page Plugin is absolutely free to use.

4. Simple Membership

Simple Membership plugin

Simple Membership is a website membership plugin that’s lightweight, user friendly, and customizable. With this plugin installed, you can easily create a membership site for your online community.

Whether you want to build a more private site – only allowing approved members to participate – or offer varying permissions to different membership levels, this plugin will do the job. Simple Membership enables you to create unlimited subscription levels, both free and paid. With paid subscriptions, you have the additional benefit of accepting secure payments through PayPal.

This plugin is free and, as it focuses on simplicity, no additional plugins or add-ons are offered. It is fully functional on its own, and will get you up and running in no time.

5. bbPress

bbPress plugin

bbPress is a forum plugin that enables you to create a full-featured forum on your WordPress website, and it’s a great way to get the conversation started on your blog. Since forums are a simple way to connect with like-minded individuals, this is a great plugin choice if you want to get your online community started quickly.

What’s more, this plugin is well-designed for both for beginners and experienced forum moderators. With bbPress, you can set up and moderate your forums easily. In addition, you can divide your site into sections, and even allow user-created content.

As open source software, bbPress is free to download and use. Also, there are many bbPress-compatible plugins – such as Private Replies and Notify (No Spam) – that extend the tool’s functionality and improve its user experience.

Conclusion

Whether you want to offer support, build a fanbase, or provide a place for like-minded individuals to hang out, WordPress is a great platform for creating your online community. In fact, there are dozens of plugins available for that very purpose.

In this post, we’ve introduced you to five of our recommended community-building plugins. To recap, they include:

  1. BuddyPress: A social network plugin that helps you create your own WordPress-integrated social platform.
  2. User Submitted Posts: A community-building plugin that provides users with the ability to submit their own posts.
  3. Facebook Page Plugin: An advanced Facebook feed plugin that enables users to interact with your integrated Facebook page on your website.
  4. Simple Membership: A membership site plugin that enables you to create unlimited membership levels, free or paid.
  5. bbPress: A fully-functional plugin you can use to create your own community forum.

Which of these community-building plugins interests you most, and why? Let us know in the comments section below!



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Large

bbPress Forums for WordPress: A Quick Guide


Discussion forums have been around for almost as long as the internet itself. Even before the World Wide Web became popular, people were sharing information and discussing topics using terminal server bulletin board systems. In fact, my very first experiences with the Internet back in 1998 revolved around the chat rooms and discussion forums on AOL (boy do I look back nostalgically at those halcyon days).

The modern discussion forum retains the core idea of what is now a very well-established concept — sharing information and discussing topics — but has evolved into a lightweight plugin for WordPress that can be installed in a matter of minutes.

I am talking about bbPress – the WordPress forum software built by the very guys who created WordPress itself. In this post I am going to explain exactly what bbPress is, why you may need it, and also show you how to install it.

Why You Need bbPress

Total WordPress Theme & bbPress

The feature-set of bbPress is nowhere near as comprehensive as dedicated forum software such as phpBB or vBulletin, so why use it? There are a few compelling reasons why.

  1. It’s lightweight. Forum software is traditionally bloated, full of security holes, and a real drain on your server. The latest version of bbPress (v2.5.13) is simple to use and open source – so you can tweak the plugin as necessary.
  2. It’s fully integrated with WordPress. This benefit goes beyond the ease of installation. bbPress takes advantage of the WordPress user management system, and has access to the vast WordPress plugin repository, where you’ll find a decent number of specific bbPress compatible plugins. One of these is BuddyPress, a template for a WordPress-based social network that actually uses bbPress to power its forums.
  3. Customization is easy. bbPress has a unique advantage over other forum software when it comes to customizing the styling for your forum. Since it’s built for WordPress there are many amazing themes (like the Total WordPress Theme) designed specifically for bbPress so changing the look for your forum is as easy as changing your theme.

If you want to start a traditional bulletin board or new social network then bbPress probably isn’t for you (although do check out BuddyPress as a basis for the latter!)

However, if you want to add a community element to an existing blog or a support area for your clients, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something better suited than bbPress.

What Is bbPress?

Any site owner should understand what’s going on within their plugins. bbPress is simply three custom post types, some layout templates, a system of shortcodes, a couple of widgets, and CSS code. That’s why it’s called lightweight!

Custom post types

The three custom post types are:

  1. Forums: which holds each discussion forum you create, allowing a hierarchy of forums to be created
  2. Topics: which holds each discussion thread (the title and opening post)
  3. Replies: which holds each individual reply to a topic

Layouts

The standard layout templates are suitable for most instances. For example, the topics layout will display a list of topics with the following information:

  • Topic name
  • Who started the topic and in which forum they started it
  • The number of people engaged in conversation (voices)
  • The number of replies to the topic
  • (And possibly) How long ago the last reply was and who made it

bbPress Topics Page

The various elements can be styled with CSS to better fit your blog, but if you want to make substantial changes to the structure, you’ll need to be comfortable with PHP or purchase a theme like Total that offers custom styling options built-in.

Shortcodes and Widgets

bbPress makes it simple to display the various elements of the forum wherever you want to through a series of shortcodes and widgets. This is actually an incredibly powerful feature, allowing you to consider usability and responsive design.

For example, you can create a page listing the latest topics with a selection of the most popular posts highlighted in your sidebar by using just one short code and one widget. If you decide you prefer a more traditional forum layout listing the categories, you can switch things around in minutes.

To give you a feel for the flexibility, check out the codex to view all 19 bbPress shortcodes.

The included widgets are:

  • Forums list
  • Recent replies
  • Recent topics
  • Topic views list
  • Search
  • Login widget
  • Statistics

The login widget is especially useful, displaying a login form to visitors, and a profile link to logged-in users.

Installation

If you decide to give bbPress a go, installation couldn’t be simpler.

Install bbPress via the WordPress Directory

Just search for bbPress in the WordPress plugin directory, hit install, and you’re done (or, if you want to use the plugin as a basis for development, or just to take a closer look, you can download a copy from the WordPress plugin repository).

bbPress WordPress Forums

Install bbPress via a WordPress Theme

Your other option is to install the plugin via your WordPress theme (if it offers the option). For example, the Total WordPress theme is not only fully compatible with bbPress but it includes a ready to go, easy import bbPress demo.

Install Total bbPress Demo

Simply head over to Themeforest and buy Total (one of the highest rated and popular drag & drop WordPress themes on the web), install & activate it, then navigate to Theme Panel > Demo Importer (note: this is unique to Total, most themes will not include this awesome and easy to use feature).

From here search for “bbpress” then click on the demo to begin.

Install bbPress Plugin

Once you click Total will prompt you to install any required plugins, which in this case includes bbPress. Simply click on each plugin to install and activate.

Import Total bbPress Content

With that done Total offers you the option to specify which parts of the demo you’d like to import. For the Total bbPress demo be sure all boxes for XML sample data, images, theme customizer settings and widgets are set to have your website looking identical to the live demo.

Total bbPress Demo Import Complete

When the import is complete you should see a message like the one above. This means your sample content and bbPress are ready to go!

Basic bbPress Setup

Once bbPress is installed and active, you’ll notice the three new custom post types in the admin menu, and a bbPress page in the Settings menu.

Before you dive in and create the forum of your dreams, spend some time in the settings menu. Navigate to Settings > Forums.

bbPress Spam Settings

In particular, you’ll want to tweak the spam settings, including:

  • Throttle Time: the minimum number of seconds allowed between new replies from the same user
  • Allow Anonymous Posting: Disable this to require a user to register for an account to post a topic or a reply

Once you’ve done this, it’s good to create a number of sample forums, topics, and replies (preferably from several different user accounts) before you start to tweak the design. With dummy data you’ll be more likely to spot things that need fixing with CSS, particularly on mobile devices. Lucky for you, if you’ve chosen to use the Total theme sample demo you’re all set to move on to customizations!

Customizing bbPress

To customize bbPress you really need to be a developer… or use one of the following cheater methods to customize your forum styling without knowing how to code.

Option 1: Use Your Theme Settings

First off, if you did decide to use a theme that offers added bbPress options you should look there first. Navigate to Appearance > Customize to edit options.

bbPress Live Customizer Options

Specifically under the bbPress section (like the one in Total) to select the default page layout for forums, topics and user pages. After that utilize settings under Typography for custom fonts and under General Theme Options for accent colors, Page Header Title selections, Forms styling, Links & Buttons customizations and more to make the design match your branding.

Option 2: Use a Live CSS Editor Plugin

If by chance your theme doesn’t offer any styling options, or simply not the ones you’re looking for you might want to consider a live CSS editor plugin. These plugins allow you to point, click and edit elements of your website using easy styling options (no code required). Here are our two favorites:

  • Yellow Pencil: This plugin is one of our favorites. Simply install and click “Let’s Start” to begin customizing your website! Want to learn more? Checkout our full Yellow Pencil user guide to see how the plugin works and what features are included.
  • CSShero: Similar to the previous plugin, CSShero offers a super easy to use point & click interface to edit styles, colors, fonts, spacing and more. Take a look at how this plugin works in our CSShero guide for customizing WordPress.

Recommended bbPress Add-on Plugins

As mentioned earlier, bbPress is easy to extend through a large number of plugins. Here are a handful we think you might like to consider to add more features and options to your forums.

Ultimate Member bbPress Addition

Add options for easy user signup, advanced profiles and even memberships with the Ultimate Member plugin. This extensible option fully integrates with bbPress so you can offer your forum members more to enjoy.

More about Ultimate Member →

bbp Style Pack

Want to add a few basic styling options for your bbPress forum? Give bbp Style Pack a try. This free plugin adds options to customize styling, links, display features and more.

More about bbp Style Pack →

bbPress Notify (No Spam)

This plugin sends an email notification to users when new topics and/or replies are posted. It’s useful if you’re operating a support forum and need a particular person to respond to questions in a particular forum, for example.

More About bbPress Notify →

GD bbPress Tools

One of the more comprehensive bbPress plugins available, this adds BBCode support, user signatures, additional custom views, in-reply quotes, plus some additional admin features.

More about GC bbPress Tools →

The Best Forum Solution?

It’s lightweight, quick, and easy to install, but is bbPress the best forum solution for your WordPress blog? There’s only one way to find out — grab a copy, install it on your site and start experimenting!

Now it’s time to get your feedback. Are you a bbPress user? Do you consider bbPress to be the best forum solution for WordPress users, or do you prefer an alternative solution? What’s your experience of adding a community element to your blog?

Please give us your answers to the above questions in the comments sections below. Alternatively, if you have any other comments or questions, please fire away!



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How to Grow Your Online Community with WordPress


As a flexible content management system that’s here to stay, WordPress is an excellent place to set up your online community. However, you may only be accustomed to using the platform for blogging, and not sure how to best adapt it for a community website.

Fortunately, you can create just about any type of online community you can imagine, thanks to the variety of relevant plugins that seamlessly integrate with WordPress. There are tools that will help you build fan sites, support networks, interest-based groups, and more.

In this post, we’ll talk about why you might want to create an online community in the first place. Then we’ll highlight a few of the best plugins for doing so, and introduce their key features. Let’s get started!

Why to Create an Online Community

Envato Forum

A forum is a great example of a community site that enables users to come together and discuss a niche topic.

An online community – such as a forum, social media network, web page, or membership site – is a platform where like-minded individuals can join together. These communities can be intended for support, for networking, or even just for fun.

Creating your own community brings a number of benefits, whether you’re a business owner, a blogger, or just someone looking for a place to hang out online. For example:

  • If you’re a business owner, it can help you to stand out among your competitors and more deeply engage your target audience.
  • If you’re a blogger or influencer, you have the ability to reach out to a specific, niche audience and build a dedicated readership.
  • No matter what your community site’s purpose is, you can control its content and design, unlike on a restrictive platform such as Facebook.

Of course, every community site has its own unique purpose and goals. Fortunately, WordPress makes it possible to design yours to meet your community’s needs with a number of useful plugins.

How to Expand Your Online Community

We’ve chosen the five tools below carefully, focusing on ratings, reviews, and key features. While it’s not an all-inclusive list, we believe these are the best choices to get you started on the right foot, or help you expand your existing site. Let’s jump in!

1. BuddyPress

BuddyPress plugin

BuddyPress enables you to create a social media network for your colleagues, special interest group, family, or anyone else. It offers a simple but customizable platform for building and engaging with your community.

With BuddyPress, the members of your network can build personal profiles, connect with other users, and even create and interact within their own groups. You get all the benefits of your own, exclusive social media platform, without any coding required.

The best thing about BuddyPress is that it’s free, and there are a lot of other plugins that expand its functionality. For example, User Blog gives network members the ability to contribute blog posts, while Member Types gives you control over different membership groups and their abilities.

2. User Submitted Posts

User Submitted Posts plugin

User Submitted Posts enables you to turn your WordPress site into a multi-author blog. This is similar to the BuddyPress-compatible plugin User Blog, but with more functionality.

As a standalone plugin, User Submitted Posts is a great option for sites with a content focus. Whether you’re running a hobby group, industry community, or special interest website, your users can become part of the community by offering their own insight and experience. Of course, this plugin enables you to fully control the posts that are approved. To enable those posts, you simply need to copy and paste a shortcode onto a page, post, or widget.

The plugin is free, and includes a basic submission form and limited support. However, you can upgrade for as little as $40 and receive a lifetime of updates, full support, and additional submission form customization options.

3. Facebook Page Plugin

Facebook Page Plugin

Facebook Page Plugin is a lightweight feed plugin that enables you to bring your active Facebook community – and all its followers – onto your WordPress site.

With the addition of a shortcode on a page, post, or widget, you can add your Facebook feed directly to your WordPress community website. Even better, users can interact with your feed – liking, sharing, and commenting – all without leaving your website!

This plugin’s simplicity and clean design make it a great addition to any site. Plus, its easy-to-use dashboard makes customization simple. As with the other plugins mentioned on our list, Facebook Page Plugin is absolutely free to use.

4. Simple Membership

Simple Membership plugin

Simple Membership is a website membership plugin that’s lightweight, user friendly, and customizable. With this plugin installed, you can easily create a membership site for your online community.

Whether you want to build a more private site – only allowing approved members to participate – or offer varying permissions to different membership levels, this plugin will do the job. Simple Membership enables you to create unlimited subscription levels, both free and paid. With paid subscriptions, you have the additional benefit of accepting secure payments through PayPal.

This plugin is free and, as it focuses on simplicity, no additional plugins or add-ons are offered. It is fully functional on its own, and will get you up and running in no time.

5. bbPress

bbPress plugin

bbPress is a forum plugin that enables you to create a full-featured forum on your WordPress website, and it’s a great way to get the conversation started on your blog. Since forums are a simple way to connect with like-minded individuals, this is a great plugin choice if you want to get your online community started quickly.

What’s more, this plugin is well-designed for both for beginners and experienced forum moderators. With bbPress, you can set up and moderate your forums easily. In addition, you can divide your site into sections, and even allow user-created content.

As open source software, bbPress is free to download and use. Also, there are many bbPress-compatible plugins – such as Private Replies and Notify (No Spam) – that extend the tool’s functionality and improve its user experience.

Conclusion

Whether you want to offer support, build a fanbase, or provide a place for like-minded individuals to hang out, WordPress is a great platform for creating your online community. In fact, there are dozens of plugins available for that very purpose.

In this post, we’ve introduced you to five of our recommended community-building plugins. To recap, they include:

  1. BuddyPress: A social network plugin that helps you create your own WordPress-integrated social platform.
  2. User Submitted Posts: A community-building plugin that provides users with the ability to submit their own posts.
  3. Facebook Page Plugin: An advanced Facebook feed plugin that enables users to interact with your integrated Facebook page on your website.
  4. Simple Membership: A membership site plugin that enables you to create unlimited membership levels, free or paid.
  5. bbPress: A fully-functional plugin you can use to create your own community forum.

Which of these community-building plugins interests you most, and why? Let us know in the comments section below!



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Large Alt

bbPress Forums for WordPress: A Quick Guide


Discussion forums have been around for almost as long as the internet itself. Even before the World Wide Web became popular, people were sharing information and discussing topics using terminal server bulletin board systems. In fact, my very first experiences with the Internet back in 1998 revolved around the chat rooms and discussion forums on AOL (boy do I look back nostalgically at those halcyon days).

The modern discussion forum retains the core idea of what is now a very well-established concept — sharing information and discussing topics — but has evolved into a lightweight plugin for WordPress that can be installed in a matter of minutes.

I am talking about bbPress – the WordPress forum software built by the very guys who created WordPress itself. In this post I am going to explain exactly what bbPress is, why you may need it, and also show you how to install it.

Why You Need bbPress

Total WordPress Theme & bbPress

The feature-set of bbPress is nowhere near as comprehensive as dedicated forum software such as phpBB or vBulletin, so why use it? There are a few compelling reasons why.

  1. It’s lightweight. Forum software is traditionally bloated, full of security holes, and a real drain on your server. The latest version of bbPress (v2.5.13) is simple to use and open source – so you can tweak the plugin as necessary.
  2. It’s fully integrated with WordPress. This benefit goes beyond the ease of installation. bbPress takes advantage of the WordPress user management system, and has access to the vast WordPress plugin repository, where you’ll find a decent number of specific bbPress compatible plugins. One of these is BuddyPress, a template for a WordPress-based social network that actually uses bbPress to power its forums.
  3. Customization is easy. bbPress has a unique advantage over other forum software when it comes to customizing the styling for your forum. Since it’s built for WordPress there are many amazing themes (like the Total WordPress Theme) designed specifically for bbPress so changing the look for your forum is as easy as changing your theme.

If you want to start a traditional bulletin board or new social network then bbPress probably isn’t for you (although do check out BuddyPress as a basis for the latter!)

However, if you want to add a community element to an existing blog or a support area for your clients, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something better suited than bbPress.

What Is bbPress?

Any site owner should understand what’s going on within their plugins. bbPress is simply three custom post types, some layout templates, a system of shortcodes, a couple of widgets, and CSS code. That’s why it’s called lightweight!

Custom post types

The three custom post types are:

  1. Forums: which holds each discussion forum you create, allowing a hierarchy of forums to be created
  2. Topics: which holds each discussion thread (the title and opening post)
  3. Replies: which holds each individual reply to a topic

Layouts

The standard layout templates are suitable for most instances. For example, the topics layout will display a list of topics with the following information:

  • Topic name
  • Who started the topic and in which forum they started it
  • The number of people engaged in conversation (voices)
  • The number of replies to the topic
  • (And possibly) How long ago the last reply was and who made it

bbPress Topics Page

The various elements can be styled with CSS to better fit your blog, but if you want to make substantial changes to the structure, you’ll need to be comfortable with PHP or purchase a theme like Total that offers custom styling options built-in.

Shortcodes and Widgets

bbPress makes it simple to display the various elements of the forum wherever you want to through a series of shortcodes and widgets. This is actually an incredibly powerful feature, allowing you to consider usability and responsive design.

For example, you can create a page listing the latest topics with a selection of the most popular posts highlighted in your sidebar by using just one short code and one widget. If you decide you prefer a more traditional forum layout listing the categories, you can switch things around in minutes.

To give you a feel for the flexibility, check out the codex to view all 19 bbPress shortcodes.

The included widgets are:

  • Forums list
  • Recent replies
  • Recent topics
  • Topic views list
  • Search
  • Login widget
  • Statistics

The login widget is especially useful, displaying a login form to visitors, and a profile link to logged-in users.

Installation

If you decide to give bbPress a go, installation couldn’t be simpler.

Install bbPress via the WordPress Directory

Just search for bbPress in the WordPress plugin directory, hit install, and you’re done (or, if you want to use the plugin as a basis for development, or just to take a closer look, you can download a copy from the WordPress plugin repository).

bbPress WordPress Forums

Install bbPress via a WordPress Theme

Your other option is to install the plugin via your WordPress theme (if it offers the option). For example, the Total WordPress theme is not only fully compatible with bbPress but it includes a ready to go, easy import bbPress demo.

Install Total bbPress Demo

Simply head over to Themeforest and buy Total (one of the highest rated and popular drag & drop WordPress themes on the web), install & activate it, then navigate to Theme Panel > Demo Importer (note: this is unique to Total, most themes will not include this awesome and easy to use feature).

From here search for “bbpress” then click on the demo to begin.

Install bbPress Plugin

Once you click Total will prompt you to install any required plugins, which in this case includes bbPress. Simply click on each plugin to install and activate.

Import Total bbPress Content

With that done Total offers you the option to specify which parts of the demo you’d like to import. For the Total bbPress demo be sure all boxes for XML sample data, images, theme customizer settings and widgets are set to have your website looking identical to the live demo.

Total bbPress Demo Import Complete

When the import is complete you should see a message like the one above. This means your sample content and bbPress are ready to go!

Basic bbPress Setup

Once bbPress is installed and active, you’ll notice the three new custom post types in the admin menu, and a bbPress page in the Settings menu.

Before you dive in and create the forum of your dreams, spend some time in the settings menu. Navigate to Settings > Forums.

bbPress Spam Settings

In particular, you’ll want to tweak the spam settings, including:

  • Throttle Time: the minimum number of seconds allowed between new replies from the same user
  • Allow Anonymous Posting: Disable this to require a user to register for an account to post a topic or a reply

Once you’ve done this, it’s good to create a number of sample forums, topics, and replies (preferably from several different user accounts) before you start to tweak the design. With dummy data you’ll be more likely to spot things that need fixing with CSS, particularly on mobile devices. Lucky for you, if you’ve chosen to use the Total theme sample demo you’re all set to move on to customizations!

Customizing bbPress

To customize bbPress you really need to be a developer… or use one of the following cheater methods to customize your forum styling without knowing how to code.

Option 1: Use Your Theme Settings

First off, if you did decide to use a theme that offers added bbPress options you should look there first. Navigate to Appearance > Customize to edit options.

bbPress Live Customizer Options

Specifically under the bbPress section (like the one in Total) to select the default page layout for forums, topics and user pages. After that utilize settings under Typography for custom fonts and under General Theme Options for accent colors, Page Header Title selections, Forms styling, Links & Buttons customizations and more to make the design match your branding.

Option 2: Use a Live CSS Editor Plugin

If by chance your theme doesn’t offer any styling options, or simply not the ones you’re looking for you might want to consider a live CSS editor plugin. These plugins allow you to point, click and edit elements of your website using easy styling options (no code required). Here are our two favorites:

  • Yellow Pencil: This plugin is one of our favorites. Simply install and click “Let’s Start” to begin customizing your website! Want to learn more? Checkout our full Yellow Pencil user guide to see how the plugin works and what features are included.
  • CSShero: Similar to the previous plugin, CSShero offers a super easy to use point & click interface to edit styles, colors, fonts, spacing and more. Take a look at how this plugin works in our CSShero guide for customizing WordPress.

Recommended bbPress Add-on Plugins

As mentioned earlier, bbPress is easy to extend through a large number of plugins. Here are a handful we think you might like to consider to add more features and options to your forums.

Ultimate Member bbPress Addition

Add options for easy user signup, advanced profiles and even memberships with the Ultimate Member plugin. This extensible option fully integrates with bbPress so you can offer your forum members more to enjoy.

More about Ultimate Member →

bbp Style Pack

Want to add a few basic styling options for your bbPress forum? Give bbp Style Pack a try. This free plugin adds options to customize styling, links, display features and more.

More about bbp Style Pack →

bbPress Notify (No Spam)

This plugin sends an email notification to users when new topics and/or replies are posted. It’s useful if you’re operating a support forum and need a particular person to respond to questions in a particular forum, for example.

More About bbPress Notify →

GD bbPress Tools

One of the more comprehensive bbPress plugins available, this adds BBCode support, user signatures, additional custom views, in-reply quotes, plus some additional admin features.

More about GC bbPress Tools →

The Best Forum Solution?

It’s lightweight, quick, and easy to install, but is bbPress the best forum solution for your WordPress blog? There’s only one way to find out — grab a copy, install it on your site and start experimenting!

Now it’s time to get your feedback. Are you a bbPress user? Do you consider bbPress to be the best forum solution for WordPress users, or do you prefer an alternative solution? What’s your experience of adding a community element to your blog?

Please give us your answers to the above questions in the comments sections below. Alternatively, if you have any other comments or questions, please fire away!



Source link

Read more...

How to Grow Your Online Community with WordPress


As a flexible content management system that’s here to stay, WordPress is an excellent place to set up your online community. However, you may only be accustomed to using the platform for blogging, and not sure how to best adapt it for a community website.

Fortunately, you can create just about any type of online community you can imagine, thanks to the variety of relevant plugins that seamlessly integrate with WordPress. There are tools that will help you build fan sites, support networks, interest-based groups, and more.

In this post, we’ll talk about why you might want to create an online community in the first place. Then we’ll highlight a few of the best plugins for doing so, and introduce their key features. Let’s get started!

Why to Create an Online Community

Envato Forum

A forum is a great example of a community site that enables users to come together and discuss a niche topic.

An online community – such as a forum, social media network, web page, or membership site – is a platform where like-minded individuals can join together. These communities can be intended for support, for networking, or even just for fun.

Creating your own community brings a number of benefits, whether you’re a business owner, a blogger, or just someone looking for a place to hang out online. For example:

  • If you’re a business owner, it can help you to stand out among your competitors and more deeply engage your target audience.
  • If you’re a blogger or influencer, you have the ability to reach out to a specific, niche audience and build a dedicated readership.
  • No matter what your community site’s purpose is, you can control its content and design, unlike on a restrictive platform such as Facebook.

Of course, every community site has its own unique purpose and goals. Fortunately, WordPress makes it possible to design yours to meet your community’s needs with a number of useful plugins.

How to Expand Your Online Community

We’ve chosen the five tools below carefully, focusing on ratings, reviews, and key features. While it’s not an all-inclusive list, we believe these are the best choices to get you started on the right foot, or help you expand your existing site. Let’s jump in!

1. BuddyPress

BuddyPress plugin

BuddyPress enables you to create a social media network for your colleagues, special interest group, family, or anyone else. It offers a simple but customizable platform for building and engaging with your community.

With BuddyPress, the members of your network can build personal profiles, connect with other users, and even create and interact within their own groups. You get all the benefits of your own, exclusive social media platform, without any coding required.

The best thing about BuddyPress is that it’s free, and there are a lot of other plugins that expand its functionality. For example, User Blog gives network members the ability to contribute blog posts, while Member Types gives you control over different membership groups and their abilities.

2. User Submitted Posts

User Submitted Posts plugin

User Submitted Posts enables you to turn your WordPress site into a multi-author blog. This is similar to the BuddyPress-compatible plugin User Blog, but with more functionality.

As a standalone plugin, User Submitted Posts is a great option for sites with a content focus. Whether you’re running a hobby group, industry community, or special interest website, your users can become part of the community by offering their own insight and experience. Of course, this plugin enables you to fully control the posts that are approved. To enable those posts, you simply need to copy and paste a shortcode onto a page, post, or widget.

The plugin is free, and includes a basic submission form and limited support. However, you can upgrade for as little as $40 and receive a lifetime of updates, full support, and additional submission form customization options.

3. Facebook Page Plugin

Facebook Page Plugin

Facebook Page Plugin is a lightweight feed plugin that enables you to bring your active Facebook community – and all its followers – onto your WordPress site.

With the addition of a shortcode on a page, post, or widget, you can add your Facebook feed directly to your WordPress community website. Even better, users can interact with your feed – liking, sharing, and commenting – all without leaving your website!

This plugin’s simplicity and clean design make it a great addition to any site. Plus, its easy-to-use dashboard makes customization simple. As with the other plugins mentioned on our list, Facebook Page Plugin is absolutely free to use.

4. Simple Membership

Simple Membership plugin

Simple Membership is a website membership plugin that’s lightweight, user friendly, and customizable. With this plugin installed, you can easily create a membership site for your online community.

Whether you want to build a more private site – only allowing approved members to participate – or offer varying permissions to different membership levels, this plugin will do the job. Simple Membership enables you to create unlimited subscription levels, both free and paid. With paid subscriptions, you have the additional benefit of accepting secure payments through PayPal.

This plugin is free and, as it focuses on simplicity, no additional plugins or add-ons are offered. It is fully functional on its own, and will get you up and running in no time.

5. bbPress

bbPress plugin

bbPress is a forum plugin that enables you to create a full-featured forum on your WordPress website, and it’s a great way to get the conversation started on your blog. Since forums are a simple way to connect with like-minded individuals, this is a great plugin choice if you want to get your online community started quickly.

What’s more, this plugin is well-designed for both for beginners and experienced forum moderators. With bbPress, you can set up and moderate your forums easily. In addition, you can divide your site into sections, and even allow user-created content.

As open source software, bbPress is free to download and use. Also, there are many bbPress-compatible plugins – such as Private Replies and Notify (No Spam) – that extend the tool’s functionality and improve its user experience.

Conclusion

Whether you want to offer support, build a fanbase, or provide a place for like-minded individuals to hang out, WordPress is a great platform for creating your online community. In fact, there are dozens of plugins available for that very purpose.

In this post, we’ve introduced you to five of our recommended community-building plugins. To recap, they include:

  1. BuddyPress: A social network plugin that helps you create your own WordPress-integrated social platform.
  2. User Submitted Posts: A community-building plugin that provides users with the ability to submit their own posts.
  3. Facebook Page Plugin: An advanced Facebook feed plugin that enables users to interact with your integrated Facebook page on your website.
  4. Simple Membership: A membership site plugin that enables you to create unlimited membership levels, free or paid.
  5. bbPress: A fully-functional plugin you can use to create your own community forum.

Which of these community-building plugins interests you most, and why? Let us know in the comments section below!



Source link

Read more...

Full

bbPress Forums for WordPress: A Quick Guide


Discussion forums have been around for almost as long as the internet itself. Even before the World Wide Web became popular, people were sharing information and discussing topics using terminal server bulletin board systems. In fact, my very first experiences with the Internet back in 1998 revolved around the chat rooms and discussion forums on AOL (boy do I look back nostalgically at those halcyon days).

The modern discussion forum retains the core idea of what is now a very well-established concept — sharing information and discussing topics — but has evolved into a lightweight plugin for WordPress that can be installed in a matter of minutes.

I am talking about bbPress – the WordPress forum software built by the very guys who created WordPress itself. In this post I am going to explain exactly what bbPress is, why you may need it, and also show you how to install it.

Why You Need bbPress

Total WordPress Theme & bbPress

The feature-set of bbPress is nowhere near as comprehensive as dedicated forum software such as phpBB or vBulletin, so why use it? There are a few compelling reasons why.

  1. It’s lightweight. Forum software is traditionally bloated, full of security holes, and a real drain on your server. The latest version of bbPress (v2.5.13) is simple to use and open source – so you can tweak the plugin as necessary.
  2. It’s fully integrated with WordPress. This benefit goes beyond the ease of installation. bbPress takes advantage of the WordPress user management system, and has access to the vast WordPress plugin repository, where you’ll find a decent number of specific bbPress compatible plugins. One of these is BuddyPress, a template for a WordPress-based social network that actually uses bbPress to power its forums.
  3. Customization is easy. bbPress has a unique advantage over other forum software when it comes to customizing the styling for your forum. Since it’s built for WordPress there are many amazing themes (like the Total WordPress Theme) designed specifically for bbPress so changing the look for your forum is as easy as changing your theme.

If you want to start a traditional bulletin board or new social network then bbPress probably isn’t for you (although do check out BuddyPress as a basis for the latter!)

However, if you want to add a community element to an existing blog or a support area for your clients, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something better suited than bbPress.

What Is bbPress?

Any site owner should understand what’s going on within their plugins. bbPress is simply three custom post types, some layout templates, a system of shortcodes, a couple of widgets, and CSS code. That’s why it’s called lightweight!

Custom post types

The three custom post types are:

  1. Forums: which holds each discussion forum you create, allowing a hierarchy of forums to be created
  2. Topics: which holds each discussion thread (the title and opening post)
  3. Replies: which holds each individual reply to a topic

Layouts

The standard layout templates are suitable for most instances. For example, the topics layout will display a list of topics with the following information:

  • Topic name
  • Who started the topic and in which forum they started it
  • The number of people engaged in conversation (voices)
  • The number of replies to the topic
  • (And possibly) How long ago the last reply was and who made it

bbPress Topics Page

The various elements can be styled with CSS to better fit your blog, but if you want to make substantial changes to the structure, you’ll need to be comfortable with PHP or purchase a theme like Total that offers custom styling options built-in.

Shortcodes and Widgets

bbPress makes it simple to display the various elements of the forum wherever you want to through a series of shortcodes and widgets. This is actually an incredibly powerful feature, allowing you to consider usability and responsive design.

For example, you can create a page listing the latest topics with a selection of the most popular posts highlighted in your sidebar by using just one short code and one widget. If you decide you prefer a more traditional forum layout listing the categories, you can switch things around in minutes.

To give you a feel for the flexibility, check out the codex to view all 19 bbPress shortcodes.

The included widgets are:

  • Forums list
  • Recent replies
  • Recent topics
  • Topic views list
  • Search
  • Login widget
  • Statistics

The login widget is especially useful, displaying a login form to visitors, and a profile link to logged-in users.

Installation

If you decide to give bbPress a go, installation couldn’t be simpler.

Install bbPress via the WordPress Directory

Just search for bbPress in the WordPress plugin directory, hit install, and you’re done (or, if you want to use the plugin as a basis for development, or just to take a closer look, you can download a copy from the WordPress plugin repository).

bbPress WordPress Forums

Install bbPress via a WordPress Theme

Your other option is to install the plugin via your WordPress theme (if it offers the option). For example, the Total WordPress theme is not only fully compatible with bbPress but it includes a ready to go, easy import bbPress demo.

Install Total bbPress Demo

Simply head over to Themeforest and buy Total (one of the highest rated and popular drag & drop WordPress themes on the web), install & activate it, then navigate to Theme Panel > Demo Importer (note: this is unique to Total, most themes will not include this awesome and easy to use feature).

From here search for “bbpress” then click on the demo to begin.

Install bbPress Plugin

Once you click Total will prompt you to install any required plugins, which in this case includes bbPress. Simply click on each plugin to install and activate.

Import Total bbPress Content

With that done Total offers you the option to specify which parts of the demo you’d like to import. For the Total bbPress demo be sure all boxes for XML sample data, images, theme customizer settings and widgets are set to have your website looking identical to the live demo.

Total bbPress Demo Import Complete

When the import is complete you should see a message like the one above. This means your sample content and bbPress are ready to go!

Basic bbPress Setup

Once bbPress is installed and active, you’ll notice the three new custom post types in the admin menu, and a bbPress page in the Settings menu.

Before you dive in and create the forum of your dreams, spend some time in the settings menu. Navigate to Settings > Forums.

bbPress Spam Settings

In particular, you’ll want to tweak the spam settings, including:

  • Throttle Time: the minimum number of seconds allowed between new replies from the same user
  • Allow Anonymous Posting: Disable this to require a user to register for an account to post a topic or a reply

Once you’ve done this, it’s good to create a number of sample forums, topics, and replies (preferably from several different user accounts) before you start to tweak the design. With dummy data you’ll be more likely to spot things that need fixing with CSS, particularly on mobile devices. Lucky for you, if you’ve chosen to use the Total theme sample demo you’re all set to move on to customizations!

Customizing bbPress

To customize bbPress you really need to be a developer… or use one of the following cheater methods to customize your forum styling without knowing how to code.

Option 1: Use Your Theme Settings

First off, if you did decide to use a theme that offers added bbPress options you should look there first. Navigate to Appearance > Customize to edit options.

bbPress Live Customizer Options

Specifically under the bbPress section (like the one in Total) to select the default page layout for forums, topics and user pages. After that utilize settings under Typography for custom fonts and under General Theme Options for accent colors, Page Header Title selections, Forms styling, Links & Buttons customizations and more to make the design match your branding.

Option 2: Use a Live CSS Editor Plugin

If by chance your theme doesn’t offer any styling options, or simply not the ones you’re looking for you might want to consider a live CSS editor plugin. These plugins allow you to point, click and edit elements of your website using easy styling options (no code required). Here are our two favorites:

  • Yellow Pencil: This plugin is one of our favorites. Simply install and click “Let’s Start” to begin customizing your website! Want to learn more? Checkout our full Yellow Pencil user guide to see how the plugin works and what features are included.
  • CSShero: Similar to the previous plugin, CSShero offers a super easy to use point & click interface to edit styles, colors, fonts, spacing and more. Take a look at how this plugin works in our CSShero guide for customizing WordPress.

Recommended bbPress Add-on Plugins

As mentioned earlier, bbPress is easy to extend through a large number of plugins. Here are a handful we think you might like to consider to add more features and options to your forums.

Ultimate Member bbPress Addition

Add options for easy user signup, advanced profiles and even memberships with the Ultimate Member plugin. This extensible option fully integrates with bbPress so you can offer your forum members more to enjoy.

More about Ultimate Member →

bbp Style Pack

Want to add a few basic styling options for your bbPress forum? Give bbp Style Pack a try. This free plugin adds options to customize styling, links, display features and more.

More about bbp Style Pack →

bbPress Notify (No Spam)

This plugin sends an email notification to users when new topics and/or replies are posted. It’s useful if you’re operating a support forum and need a particular person to respond to questions in a particular forum, for example.

More About bbPress Notify →

GD bbPress Tools

One of the more comprehensive bbPress plugins available, this adds BBCode support, user signatures, additional custom views, in-reply quotes, plus some additional admin features.

More about GC bbPress Tools →

The Best Forum Solution?

It’s lightweight, quick, and easy to install, but is bbPress the best forum solution for your WordPress blog? There’s only one way to find out — grab a copy, install it on your site and start experimenting!

Now it’s time to get your feedback. Are you a bbPress user? Do you consider bbPress to be the best forum solution for WordPress users, or do you prefer an alternative solution? What’s your experience of adding a community element to your blog?

Please give us your answers to the above questions in the comments sections below. Alternatively, if you have any other comments or questions, please fire away!



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How to Grow Your Online Community with WordPress


As a flexible content management system that’s here to stay, WordPress is an excellent place to set up your online community. However, you may only be accustomed to using the platform for blogging, and not sure how to best adapt it for a community website.

Fortunately, you can create just about any type of online community you can imagine, thanks to the variety of relevant plugins that seamlessly integrate with WordPress. There are tools that will help you build fan sites, support networks, interest-based groups, and more.

In this post, we’ll talk about why you might want to create an online community in the first place. Then we’ll highlight a few of the best plugins for doing so, and introduce their key features. Let’s get started!

Why to Create an Online Community

Envato Forum

A forum is a great example of a community site that enables users to come together and discuss a niche topic.

An online community – such as a forum, social media network, web page, or membership site – is a platform where like-minded individuals can join together. These communities can be intended for support, for networking, or even just for fun.

Creating your own community brings a number of benefits, whether you’re a business owner, a blogger, or just someone looking for a place to hang out online. For example:

  • If you’re a business owner, it can help you to stand out among your competitors and more deeply engage your target audience.
  • If you’re a blogger or influencer, you have the ability to reach out to a specific, niche audience and build a dedicated readership.
  • No matter what your community site’s purpose is, you can control its content and design, unlike on a restrictive platform such as Facebook.

Of course, every community site has its own unique purpose and goals. Fortunately, WordPress makes it possible to design yours to meet your community’s needs with a number of useful plugins.

How to Expand Your Online Community

We’ve chosen the five tools below carefully, focusing on ratings, reviews, and key features. While it’s not an all-inclusive list, we believe these are the best choices to get you started on the right foot, or help you expand your existing site. Let’s jump in!

1. BuddyPress

BuddyPress plugin

BuddyPress enables you to create a social media network for your colleagues, special interest group, family, or anyone else. It offers a simple but customizable platform for building and engaging with your community.

With BuddyPress, the members of your network can build personal profiles, connect with other users, and even create and interact within their own groups. You get all the benefits of your own, exclusive social media platform, without any coding required.

The best thing about BuddyPress is that it’s free, and there are a lot of other plugins that expand its functionality. For example, User Blog gives network members the ability to contribute blog posts, while Member Types gives you control over different membership groups and their abilities.

2. User Submitted Posts

User Submitted Posts plugin

User Submitted Posts enables you to turn your WordPress site into a multi-author blog. This is similar to the BuddyPress-compatible plugin User Blog, but with more functionality.

As a standalone plugin, User Submitted Posts is a great option for sites with a content focus. Whether you’re running a hobby group, industry community, or special interest website, your users can become part of the community by offering their own insight and experience. Of course, this plugin enables you to fully control the posts that are approved. To enable those posts, you simply need to copy and paste a shortcode onto a page, post, or widget.

The plugin is free, and includes a basic submission form and limited support. However, you can upgrade for as little as $40 and receive a lifetime of updates, full support, and additional submission form customization options.

3. Facebook Page Plugin

Facebook Page Plugin

Facebook Page Plugin is a lightweight feed plugin that enables you to bring your active Facebook community – and all its followers – onto your WordPress site.

With the addition of a shortcode on a page, post, or widget, you can add your Facebook feed directly to your WordPress community website. Even better, users can interact with your feed – liking, sharing, and commenting – all without leaving your website!

This plugin’s simplicity and clean design make it a great addition to any site. Plus, its easy-to-use dashboard makes customization simple. As with the other plugins mentioned on our list, Facebook Page Plugin is absolutely free to use.

4. Simple Membership

Simple Membership plugin

Simple Membership is a website membership plugin that’s lightweight, user friendly, and customizable. With this plugin installed, you can easily create a membership site for your online community.

Whether you want to build a more private site – only allowing approved members to participate – or offer varying permissions to different membership levels, this plugin will do the job. Simple Membership enables you to create unlimited subscription levels, both free and paid. With paid subscriptions, you have the additional benefit of accepting secure payments through PayPal.

This plugin is free and, as it focuses on simplicity, no additional plugins or add-ons are offered. It is fully functional on its own, and will get you up and running in no time.

5. bbPress

bbPress plugin

bbPress is a forum plugin that enables you to create a full-featured forum on your WordPress website, and it’s a great way to get the conversation started on your blog. Since forums are a simple way to connect with like-minded individuals, this is a great plugin choice if you want to get your online community started quickly.

What’s more, this plugin is well-designed for both for beginners and experienced forum moderators. With bbPress, you can set up and moderate your forums easily. In addition, you can divide your site into sections, and even allow user-created content.

As open source software, bbPress is free to download and use. Also, there are many bbPress-compatible plugins – such as Private Replies and Notify (No Spam) – that extend the tool’s functionality and improve its user experience.

Conclusion

Whether you want to offer support, build a fanbase, or provide a place for like-minded individuals to hang out, WordPress is a great platform for creating your online community. In fact, there are dozens of plugins available for that very purpose.

In this post, we’ve introduced you to five of our recommended community-building plugins. To recap, they include:

  1. BuddyPress: A social network plugin that helps you create your own WordPress-integrated social platform.
  2. User Submitted Posts: A community-building plugin that provides users with the ability to submit their own posts.
  3. Facebook Page Plugin: An advanced Facebook feed plugin that enables users to interact with your integrated Facebook page on your website.
  4. Simple Membership: A membership site plugin that enables you to create unlimited membership levels, free or paid.
  5. bbPress: A fully-functional plugin you can use to create your own community forum.

Which of these community-building plugins interests you most, and why? Let us know in the comments section below!



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