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How to Make a Custom WordPress Login Page (and Why You Should)

Chances are, you’ve put a lot of work into building your WordPress site and making it look good... read more

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


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August 2017

How to Make a Custom WordPress Login Page (and Why You Should)


Chances are, you’ve put a lot of work into building your WordPress site and making it look good on the front end. However, you may be ignoring one crucial aspect: your login page.

There are plenty of reasons to customize your login form, such as to improve security, increase brand awareness, and enhance the user experience. Any one of those reasons should be enough to convince you to part from the default WordPress login screen. This simple change is a surprisingly excellent way to improve your site.

In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of creating a WordPress custom login form. Then we’ll introduce some tools that can help you accomplish this task easily, including some of the best custom login page plugins you can choose from. Let’s get started!

Why a Custom WordPress Login Form Is Beneficial to Your Site

As a WordPress website owner, you are almost certainly familiar with the default WordPress login page. It’s perfectly functional, but bare bones in appearance. It also doesn’t offer any particular security features to keep hackers and other undesirables out of your admin area. For these reasons, your login form deserves as much attention as any other area of your site.

Here are just some of the benefits of customizing your WordPress login form:

  • Better Security. You can protect your login page to redirecting your login form to a unique URL, which makes it more difficult for hackers to find your login page. Plus, you can set a limit on the number of times a person can log in, or even add multi-factor authentication.
  • Branding Consistency. Extending your branding to your login form allows you to maintain consistency with the rest of your site, so your users and team members will have a cohesive experience. Plus if you add social logins to WordPress it’s even easier for your readers or members to login and share your content.
  • Enhanced Navigation. You can use your login form to provide additional navigation for your end users. You can link to social media profiles, or even display special offers directly on the login screen.
  • Improved User Experience. You can customize your login form to take end users to any page you choose, such as a customized profile page or a specialized promotion, or you can create custom messages.

These are just some of the benefits you can reap with a custom login form. The first is the most important, however. Security should always be foremost in your mind when deciding on any change to your site, and in this case you can greatly enhance it with just a few simple tweaks.

5 Helpful Tools for Creating a Custom WordPress Login Form

By now, you understand the reasons you might want to modify your WordPress login form. Fortunately, there are plenty of plugins that can help you out (plus, many can be used to customize other WordPress forms as well). The following five options are some of the best available, with excellent feature sets and reputations for reliability.

1. ProfilePress

The ProfilePress plugin.

ProfilePress is a handy plugin that enables you to customize your WordPress custom login form, as well as your registration and password reset pages. You can also use it to build front-end user profiles unique to each user. What’s more, ProfilePress features a shortcode builder that lets you add shortcodes to any form on your site. This makes it easy to add reCAPTCHA codes, submit buttons, checkboxes, and more.

Key Features:

  • Enables you to customize your login forms, registration forms, and password reset forms.
  • Provides live previews to make the design process easier.
  • Lets you redirect logins, registrations, and password resets to custom pages.
  • Offers Multisite Integration, which enables users to create new sites via a front-end registration form.
  • Makes it possible for users to upload avatars, and provides moderation and social media-related features (premium version).

Price: The base plugin is offered for free on the WordPress.org Plugin Directory, although you can also purchase premium plans that provide additional features and functionality.

2. Customize WordPress Login Page

The Customize WordPress Login Page plugin.

The Customize WordPress Login Page plugin makes it simple to personalize your login form so that it looks just right. It provides you with the ability to modify colors, add a background image, and even create a background slideshow. In addition to its customization features, this plugin is responsive for mobile sites and integrated with Google Fonts.

Key Features:

  • Enables you to redirect users to a custom login form URL.
  • Lets you personalize your login form with colors and background media.
  • Includes social media connectivity features.

Price: Free.

3. LoginPress

The LoginPress plugin.

LoginPress makes the process of customizing your WordPress login form simple and intuitive. It enables you to edit your login page right from your WordPress dashboard, and add customized fields and messages for users. Plus, there are plenty of design-oriented features that help you match the branding and style of the rest of your site.

Key Features:

  • Lets you add custom logos and backgrounds to your login form.
  • Enables you to modify the colors of buttons and other elements.
  • Provides the option to create custom error and welcome messages.

Price: The base plugin is free, while there is a premium version with additional customization features available for $29.

4. White Label Branding for WordPress

The While Label Branding for WordPress plugin.

This premium plugin enables you to customize not just your login form, but your entire WordPress admin area. You can also use White Label Branding for WordPress to control what any user sees based on their assigned role, such as editor or author, and to hide certain areas if necessary. This creates a valuable extra layer of security for your site.

Key Features:

  • Enables you to completely customize your WordPress admin area based on user roles.
  • Lets you apply customization to your login form and back end, including logos, favicons, headers, and footers.
  • Offers a visual CSS editor.

Price: This is a premium plugin, available from CodeCanyon for $29.

5. Tailored Login

The Tailored Login plugin.

The Tailored Login plugin features a built-in style manager for your login form, and provides a wide range of customization options. It lets you add optional widgets, plus you can personalize the backgrounds, headers, buttons, and more for your login area. The plugin is part of an iThemes membership, which includes premium support and a community forum.

Key Features:

  • Provides a style manager that enables you to customize colors, fonts and widget areas.
  • Offers customizable login forms, with editable headers, footers, buttons, and links.
  • Lets you add up to two widget areas to the your login page.

Price: This plugin is available as part of iTheme’s Plugin Suite, for $247. This is a pricey option, but a potential bargain if you already have the package or are interested in some of the other plugins that are included.

Conclusion

When it comes to your WordPress site, you want to pay as much attention to tweaking your admin area as you do with the front end. Customizing your login form helps you go the extra mile with your branding, and can provide increased security and an enhanced user experience.

In this article, we’ve introduced five plugins that can help you create a WordPress custom login form to match your site:

  1. ProfilePress: Enables you to customize multiple forms on your site, offers a shortcode builder, and contains a handy Multisite Integration tool.
  2. Customize WordPress Login Page: Offers plenty of customization options for your login form, and lets you add background media.
  3. LoginPress: Simplifies the login form creation process, and helps you match the style of your site.
  4. White Label Branding for WordPress: Lets you customize your entire admin area, and control access based on user roles.
  5. Tailored Login: Offers a built-in style manager to help you tweak your login form’s background, headers, buttons, and more.

Are there any other custom login form plugins that you think are worth checking out? Let us know about them in the comments section below!



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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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Grid

How to Make a Custom WordPress Login Page (and Why You Should)


Chances are, you’ve put a lot of work into building your WordPress site and making it look good on the front end. However, you may be ignoring one crucial aspect: your login page.

There are plenty of reasons to customize your login form, such as to improve security, increase brand awareness, and enhance the user experience. Any one of those reasons should be enough to convince you to part from the default WordPress login screen. This simple change is a surprisingly excellent way to improve your site.

In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of creating a WordPress custom login form. Then we’ll introduce some tools that can help you accomplish this task easily, including some of the best custom login page plugins you can choose from. Let’s get started!

Why a Custom WordPress Login Form Is Beneficial to Your Site

As a WordPress website owner, you are almost certainly familiar with the default WordPress login page. It’s perfectly functional, but bare bones in appearance. It also doesn’t offer any particular security features to keep hackers and other undesirables out of your admin area. For these reasons, your login form deserves as much attention as any other area of your site.

Here are just some of the benefits of customizing your WordPress login form:

  • Better Security. You can protect your login page to redirecting your login form to a unique URL, which makes it more difficult for hackers to find your login page. Plus, you can set a limit on the number of times a person can log in, or even add multi-factor authentication.
  • Branding Consistency. Extending your branding to your login form allows you to maintain consistency with the rest of your site, so your users and team members will have a cohesive experience. Plus if you add social logins to WordPress it’s even easier for your readers or members to login and share your content.
  • Enhanced Navigation. You can use your login form to provide additional navigation for your end users. You can link to social media profiles, or even display special offers directly on the login screen.
  • Improved User Experience. You can customize your login form to take end users to any page you choose, such as a customized profile page or a specialized promotion, or you can create custom messages.

These are just some of the benefits you can reap with a custom login form. The first is the most important, however. Security should always be foremost in your mind when deciding on any change to your site, and in this case you can greatly enhance it with just a few simple tweaks.

5 Helpful Tools for Creating a Custom WordPress Login Form

By now, you understand the reasons you might want to modify your WordPress login form. Fortunately, there are plenty of plugins that can help you out (plus, many can be used to customize other WordPress forms as well). The following five options are some of the best available, with excellent feature sets and reputations for reliability.

1. ProfilePress

The ProfilePress plugin.

ProfilePress is a handy plugin that enables you to customize your WordPress custom login form, as well as your registration and password reset pages. You can also use it to build front-end user profiles unique to each user. What’s more, ProfilePress features a shortcode builder that lets you add shortcodes to any form on your site. This makes it easy to add reCAPTCHA codes, submit buttons, checkboxes, and more.

Key Features:

  • Enables you to customize your login forms, registration forms, and password reset forms.
  • Provides live previews to make the design process easier.
  • Lets you redirect logins, registrations, and password resets to custom pages.
  • Offers Multisite Integration, which enables users to create new sites via a front-end registration form.
  • Makes it possible for users to upload avatars, and provides moderation and social media-related features (premium version).

Price: The base plugin is offered for free on the WordPress.org Plugin Directory, although you can also purchase premium plans that provide additional features and functionality.

2. Customize WordPress Login Page

The Customize WordPress Login Page plugin.

The Customize WordPress Login Page plugin makes it simple to personalize your login form so that it looks just right. It provides you with the ability to modify colors, add a background image, and even create a background slideshow. In addition to its customization features, this plugin is responsive for mobile sites and integrated with Google Fonts.

Key Features:

  • Enables you to redirect users to a custom login form URL.
  • Lets you personalize your login form with colors and background media.
  • Includes social media connectivity features.

Price: Free.

3. LoginPress

The LoginPress plugin.

LoginPress makes the process of customizing your WordPress login form simple and intuitive. It enables you to edit your login page right from your WordPress dashboard, and add customized fields and messages for users. Plus, there are plenty of design-oriented features that help you match the branding and style of the rest of your site.

Key Features:

  • Lets you add custom logos and backgrounds to your login form.
  • Enables you to modify the colors of buttons and other elements.
  • Provides the option to create custom error and welcome messages.

Price: The base plugin is free, while there is a premium version with additional customization features available for $29.

4. White Label Branding for WordPress

The While Label Branding for WordPress plugin.

This premium plugin enables you to customize not just your login form, but your entire WordPress admin area. You can also use White Label Branding for WordPress to control what any user sees based on their assigned role, such as editor or author, and to hide certain areas if necessary. This creates a valuable extra layer of security for your site.

Key Features:

  • Enables you to completely customize your WordPress admin area based on user roles.
  • Lets you apply customization to your login form and back end, including logos, favicons, headers, and footers.
  • Offers a visual CSS editor.

Price: This is a premium plugin, available from CodeCanyon for $29.

5. Tailored Login

The Tailored Login plugin.

The Tailored Login plugin features a built-in style manager for your login form, and provides a wide range of customization options. It lets you add optional widgets, plus you can personalize the backgrounds, headers, buttons, and more for your login area. The plugin is part of an iThemes membership, which includes premium support and a community forum.

Key Features:

  • Provides a style manager that enables you to customize colors, fonts and widget areas.
  • Offers customizable login forms, with editable headers, footers, buttons, and links.
  • Lets you add up to two widget areas to the your login page.

Price: This plugin is available as part of iTheme’s Plugin Suite, for $247. This is a pricey option, but a potential bargain if you already have the package or are interested in some of the other plugins that are included.

Conclusion

When it comes to your WordPress site, you want to pay as much attention to tweaking your admin area as you do with the front end. Customizing your login form helps you go the extra mile with your branding, and can provide increased security and an enhanced user experience.

In this article, we’ve introduced five plugins that can help you create a WordPress custom login form to match your site:

  1. ProfilePress: Enables you to customize multiple forms on your site, offers a shortcode builder, and contains a handy Multisite Integration tool.
  2. Customize WordPress Login Page: Offers plenty of customization options for your login form, and lets you add background media.
  3. LoginPress: Simplifies the login form creation process, and helps you match the style of your site.
  4. White Label Branding for WordPress: Lets you customize your entire admin area, and control access based on user roles.
  5. Tailored Login: Offers a built-in style manager to help you tweak your login form’s background, headers, buttons, and more.

Are there any other custom login form plugins that you think are worth checking out? Let us know about them in the comments section below!



Source link

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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How to Make a Custom WordPress Login Page (and Why You Should)


Chances are, you’ve put a lot of work into building your WordPress site and making it look good on the front end. However, you may be ignoring one crucial aspect: your login page.

There are plenty of reasons to customize your login form, such as to improve security, increase brand awareness, and enhance the user experience. Any one of those reasons should be enough to convince you to part from the default WordPress login screen. This simple change is a surprisingly excellent way to improve your site.

In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of creating a WordPress custom login form. Then we’ll introduce some tools that can help you accomplish this task easily, including some of the best custom login page plugins you can choose from. Let’s get started!

Why a Custom WordPress Login Form Is Beneficial to Your Site

As a WordPress website owner, you are almost certainly familiar with the default WordPress login page. It’s perfectly functional, but bare bones in appearance. It also doesn’t offer any particular security features to keep hackers and other undesirables out of your admin area. For these reasons, your login form deserves as much attention as any other area of your site.

Here are just some of the benefits of customizing your WordPress login form:

  • Better Security. You can protect your login page to redirecting your login form to a unique URL, which makes it more difficult for hackers to find your login page. Plus, you can set a limit on the number of times a person can log in, or even add multi-factor authentication.
  • Branding Consistency. Extending your branding to your login form allows you to maintain consistency with the rest of your site, so your users and team members will have a cohesive experience. Plus if you add social logins to WordPress it’s even easier for your readers or members to login and share your content.
  • Enhanced Navigation. You can use your login form to provide additional navigation for your end users. You can link to social media profiles, or even display special offers directly on the login screen.
  • Improved User Experience. You can customize your login form to take end users to any page you choose, such as a customized profile page or a specialized promotion, or you can create custom messages.

These are just some of the benefits you can reap with a custom login form. The first is the most important, however. Security should always be foremost in your mind when deciding on any change to your site, and in this case you can greatly enhance it with just a few simple tweaks.

5 Helpful Tools for Creating a Custom WordPress Login Form

By now, you understand the reasons you might want to modify your WordPress login form. Fortunately, there are plenty of plugins that can help you out (plus, many can be used to customize other WordPress forms as well). The following five options are some of the best available, with excellent feature sets and reputations for reliability.

1. ProfilePress

The ProfilePress plugin.

ProfilePress is a handy plugin that enables you to customize your WordPress custom login form, as well as your registration and password reset pages. You can also use it to build front-end user profiles unique to each user. What’s more, ProfilePress features a shortcode builder that lets you add shortcodes to any form on your site. This makes it easy to add reCAPTCHA codes, submit buttons, checkboxes, and more.

Key Features:

  • Enables you to customize your login forms, registration forms, and password reset forms.
  • Provides live previews to make the design process easier.
  • Lets you redirect logins, registrations, and password resets to custom pages.
  • Offers Multisite Integration, which enables users to create new sites via a front-end registration form.
  • Makes it possible for users to upload avatars, and provides moderation and social media-related features (premium version).

Price: The base plugin is offered for free on the WordPress.org Plugin Directory, although you can also purchase premium plans that provide additional features and functionality.

2. Customize WordPress Login Page

The Customize WordPress Login Page plugin.

The Customize WordPress Login Page plugin makes it simple to personalize your login form so that it looks just right. It provides you with the ability to modify colors, add a background image, and even create a background slideshow. In addition to its customization features, this plugin is responsive for mobile sites and integrated with Google Fonts.

Key Features:

  • Enables you to redirect users to a custom login form URL.
  • Lets you personalize your login form with colors and background media.
  • Includes social media connectivity features.

Price: Free.

3. LoginPress

The LoginPress plugin.

LoginPress makes the process of customizing your WordPress login form simple and intuitive. It enables you to edit your login page right from your WordPress dashboard, and add customized fields and messages for users. Plus, there are plenty of design-oriented features that help you match the branding and style of the rest of your site.

Key Features:

  • Lets you add custom logos and backgrounds to your login form.
  • Enables you to modify the colors of buttons and other elements.
  • Provides the option to create custom error and welcome messages.

Price: The base plugin is free, while there is a premium version with additional customization features available for $29.

4. White Label Branding for WordPress

The While Label Branding for WordPress plugin.

This premium plugin enables you to customize not just your login form, but your entire WordPress admin area. You can also use White Label Branding for WordPress to control what any user sees based on their assigned role, such as editor or author, and to hide certain areas if necessary. This creates a valuable extra layer of security for your site.

Key Features:

  • Enables you to completely customize your WordPress admin area based on user roles.
  • Lets you apply customization to your login form and back end, including logos, favicons, headers, and footers.
  • Offers a visual CSS editor.

Price: This is a premium plugin, available from CodeCanyon for $29.

5. Tailored Login

The Tailored Login plugin.

The Tailored Login plugin features a built-in style manager for your login form, and provides a wide range of customization options. It lets you add optional widgets, plus you can personalize the backgrounds, headers, buttons, and more for your login area. The plugin is part of an iThemes membership, which includes premium support and a community forum.

Key Features:

  • Provides a style manager that enables you to customize colors, fonts and widget areas.
  • Offers customizable login forms, with editable headers, footers, buttons, and links.
  • Lets you add up to two widget areas to the your login page.

Price: This plugin is available as part of iTheme’s Plugin Suite, for $247. This is a pricey option, but a potential bargain if you already have the package or are interested in some of the other plugins that are included.

Conclusion

When it comes to your WordPress site, you want to pay as much attention to tweaking your admin area as you do with the front end. Customizing your login form helps you go the extra mile with your branding, and can provide increased security and an enhanced user experience.

In this article, we’ve introduced five plugins that can help you create a WordPress custom login form to match your site:

  1. ProfilePress: Enables you to customize multiple forms on your site, offers a shortcode builder, and contains a handy Multisite Integration tool.
  2. Customize WordPress Login Page: Offers plenty of customization options for your login form, and lets you add background media.
  3. LoginPress: Simplifies the login form creation process, and helps you match the style of your site.
  4. White Label Branding for WordPress: Lets you customize your entire admin area, and control access based on user roles.
  5. Tailored Login: Offers a built-in style manager to help you tweak your login form’s background, headers, buttons, and more.

Are there any other custom login form plugins that you think are worth checking out? Let us know about them in the comments section below!



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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 Make a Custom WordPress Login Page (and Why You Should)


Chances are, you’ve put a lot of work into building your WordPress site and making it look good on the front end. However, you may be ignoring one crucial aspect: your login page.

There are plenty of reasons to customize your login form, such as to improve security, increase brand awareness, and enhance the user experience. Any one of those reasons should be enough to convince you to part from the default WordPress login screen. This simple change is a surprisingly excellent way to improve your site.

In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of creating a WordPress custom login form. Then we’ll introduce some tools that can help you accomplish this task easily, including some of the best custom login page plugins you can choose from. Let’s get started!

Why a Custom WordPress Login Form Is Beneficial to Your Site

As a WordPress website owner, you are almost certainly familiar with the default WordPress login page. It’s perfectly functional, but bare bones in appearance. It also doesn’t offer any particular security features to keep hackers and other undesirables out of your admin area. For these reasons, your login form deserves as much attention as any other area of your site.

Here are just some of the benefits of customizing your WordPress login form:

  • Better Security. You can protect your login page to redirecting your login form to a unique URL, which makes it more difficult for hackers to find your login page. Plus, you can set a limit on the number of times a person can log in, or even add multi-factor authentication.
  • Branding Consistency. Extending your branding to your login form allows you to maintain consistency with the rest of your site, so your users and team members will have a cohesive experience. Plus if you add social logins to WordPress it’s even easier for your readers or members to login and share your content.
  • Enhanced Navigation. You can use your login form to provide additional navigation for your end users. You can link to social media profiles, or even display special offers directly on the login screen.
  • Improved User Experience. You can customize your login form to take end users to any page you choose, such as a customized profile page or a specialized promotion, or you can create custom messages.

These are just some of the benefits you can reap with a custom login form. The first is the most important, however. Security should always be foremost in your mind when deciding on any change to your site, and in this case you can greatly enhance it with just a few simple tweaks.

5 Helpful Tools for Creating a Custom WordPress Login Form

By now, you understand the reasons you might want to modify your WordPress login form. Fortunately, there are plenty of plugins that can help you out (plus, many can be used to customize other WordPress forms as well). The following five options are some of the best available, with excellent feature sets and reputations for reliability.

1. ProfilePress

The ProfilePress plugin.

ProfilePress is a handy plugin that enables you to customize your WordPress custom login form, as well as your registration and password reset pages. You can also use it to build front-end user profiles unique to each user. What’s more, ProfilePress features a shortcode builder that lets you add shortcodes to any form on your site. This makes it easy to add reCAPTCHA codes, submit buttons, checkboxes, and more.

Key Features:

  • Enables you to customize your login forms, registration forms, and password reset forms.
  • Provides live previews to make the design process easier.
  • Lets you redirect logins, registrations, and password resets to custom pages.
  • Offers Multisite Integration, which enables users to create new sites via a front-end registration form.
  • Makes it possible for users to upload avatars, and provides moderation and social media-related features (premium version).

Price: The base plugin is offered for free on the WordPress.org Plugin Directory, although you can also purchase premium plans that provide additional features and functionality.

2. Customize WordPress Login Page

The Customize WordPress Login Page plugin.

The Customize WordPress Login Page plugin makes it simple to personalize your login form so that it looks just right. It provides you with the ability to modify colors, add a background image, and even create a background slideshow. In addition to its customization features, this plugin is responsive for mobile sites and integrated with Google Fonts.

Key Features:

  • Enables you to redirect users to a custom login form URL.
  • Lets you personalize your login form with colors and background media.
  • Includes social media connectivity features.

Price: Free.

3. LoginPress

The LoginPress plugin.

LoginPress makes the process of customizing your WordPress login form simple and intuitive. It enables you to edit your login page right from your WordPress dashboard, and add customized fields and messages for users. Plus, there are plenty of design-oriented features that help you match the branding and style of the rest of your site.

Key Features:

  • Lets you add custom logos and backgrounds to your login form.
  • Enables you to modify the colors of buttons and other elements.
  • Provides the option to create custom error and welcome messages.

Price: The base plugin is free, while there is a premium version with additional customization features available for $29.

4. White Label Branding for WordPress

The While Label Branding for WordPress plugin.

This premium plugin enables you to customize not just your login form, but your entire WordPress admin area. You can also use White Label Branding for WordPress to control what any user sees based on their assigned role, such as editor or author, and to hide certain areas if necessary. This creates a valuable extra layer of security for your site.

Key Features:

  • Enables you to completely customize your WordPress admin area based on user roles.
  • Lets you apply customization to your login form and back end, including logos, favicons, headers, and footers.
  • Offers a visual CSS editor.

Price: This is a premium plugin, available from CodeCanyon for $29.

5. Tailored Login

The Tailored Login plugin.

The Tailored Login plugin features a built-in style manager for your login form, and provides a wide range of customization options. It lets you add optional widgets, plus you can personalize the backgrounds, headers, buttons, and more for your login area. The plugin is part of an iThemes membership, which includes premium support and a community forum.

Key Features:

  • Provides a style manager that enables you to customize colors, fonts and widget areas.
  • Offers customizable login forms, with editable headers, footers, buttons, and links.
  • Lets you add up to two widget areas to the your login page.

Price: This plugin is available as part of iTheme’s Plugin Suite, for $247. This is a pricey option, but a potential bargain if you already have the package or are interested in some of the other plugins that are included.

Conclusion

When it comes to your WordPress site, you want to pay as much attention to tweaking your admin area as you do with the front end. Customizing your login form helps you go the extra mile with your branding, and can provide increased security and an enhanced user experience.

In this article, we’ve introduced five plugins that can help you create a WordPress custom login form to match your site:

  1. ProfilePress: Enables you to customize multiple forms on your site, offers a shortcode builder, and contains a handy Multisite Integration tool.
  2. Customize WordPress Login Page: Offers plenty of customization options for your login form, and lets you add background media.
  3. LoginPress: Simplifies the login form creation process, and helps you match the style of your site.
  4. White Label Branding for WordPress: Lets you customize your entire admin area, and control access based on user roles.
  5. Tailored Login: Offers a built-in style manager to help you tweak your login form’s background, headers, buttons, and more.

Are there any other custom login form plugins that you think are worth checking out? Let us know about them in the comments section below!



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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 Make a Custom WordPress Login Page (and Why You Should)


Chances are, you’ve put a lot of work into building your WordPress site and making it look good on the front end. However, you may be ignoring one crucial aspect: your login page.

There are plenty of reasons to customize your login form, such as to improve security, increase brand awareness, and enhance the user experience. Any one of those reasons should be enough to convince you to part from the default WordPress login screen. This simple change is a surprisingly excellent way to improve your site.

In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of creating a WordPress custom login form. Then we’ll introduce some tools that can help you accomplish this task easily, including some of the best custom login page plugins you can choose from. Let’s get started!

Why a Custom WordPress Login Form Is Beneficial to Your Site

As a WordPress website owner, you are almost certainly familiar with the default WordPress login page. It’s perfectly functional, but bare bones in appearance. It also doesn’t offer any particular security features to keep hackers and other undesirables out of your admin area. For these reasons, your login form deserves as much attention as any other area of your site.

Here are just some of the benefits of customizing your WordPress login form:

  • Better Security. You can protect your login page to redirecting your login form to a unique URL, which makes it more difficult for hackers to find your login page. Plus, you can set a limit on the number of times a person can log in, or even add multi-factor authentication.
  • Branding Consistency. Extending your branding to your login form allows you to maintain consistency with the rest of your site, so your users and team members will have a cohesive experience. Plus if you add social logins to WordPress it’s even easier for your readers or members to login and share your content.
  • Enhanced Navigation. You can use your login form to provide additional navigation for your end users. You can link to social media profiles, or even display special offers directly on the login screen.
  • Improved User Experience. You can customize your login form to take end users to any page you choose, such as a customized profile page or a specialized promotion, or you can create custom messages.

These are just some of the benefits you can reap with a custom login form. The first is the most important, however. Security should always be foremost in your mind when deciding on any change to your site, and in this case you can greatly enhance it with just a few simple tweaks.

5 Helpful Tools for Creating a Custom WordPress Login Form

By now, you understand the reasons you might want to modify your WordPress login form. Fortunately, there are plenty of plugins that can help you out (plus, many can be used to customize other WordPress forms as well). The following five options are some of the best available, with excellent feature sets and reputations for reliability.

1. ProfilePress

The ProfilePress plugin.

ProfilePress is a handy plugin that enables you to customize your WordPress custom login form, as well as your registration and password reset pages. You can also use it to build front-end user profiles unique to each user. What’s more, ProfilePress features a shortcode builder that lets you add shortcodes to any form on your site. This makes it easy to add reCAPTCHA codes, submit buttons, checkboxes, and more.

Key Features:

  • Enables you to customize your login forms, registration forms, and password reset forms.
  • Provides live previews to make the design process easier.
  • Lets you redirect logins, registrations, and password resets to custom pages.
  • Offers Multisite Integration, which enables users to create new sites via a front-end registration form.
  • Makes it possible for users to upload avatars, and provides moderation and social media-related features (premium version).

Price: The base plugin is offered for free on the WordPress.org Plugin Directory, although you can also purchase premium plans that provide additional features and functionality.

2. Customize WordPress Login Page

The Customize WordPress Login Page plugin.

The Customize WordPress Login Page plugin makes it simple to personalize your login form so that it looks just right. It provides you with the ability to modify colors, add a background image, and even create a background slideshow. In addition to its customization features, this plugin is responsive for mobile sites and integrated with Google Fonts.

Key Features:

  • Enables you to redirect users to a custom login form URL.
  • Lets you personalize your login form with colors and background media.
  • Includes social media connectivity features.

Price: Free.

3. LoginPress

The LoginPress plugin.

LoginPress makes the process of customizing your WordPress login form simple and intuitive. It enables you to edit your login page right from your WordPress dashboard, and add customized fields and messages for users. Plus, there are plenty of design-oriented features that help you match the branding and style of the rest of your site.

Key Features:

  • Lets you add custom logos and backgrounds to your login form.
  • Enables you to modify the colors of buttons and other elements.
  • Provides the option to create custom error and welcome messages.

Price: The base plugin is free, while there is a premium version with additional customization features available for $29.

4. White Label Branding for WordPress

The While Label Branding for WordPress plugin.

This premium plugin enables you to customize not just your login form, but your entire WordPress admin area. You can also use White Label Branding for WordPress to control what any user sees based on their assigned role, such as editor or author, and to hide certain areas if necessary. This creates a valuable extra layer of security for your site.

Key Features:

  • Enables you to completely customize your WordPress admin area based on user roles.
  • Lets you apply customization to your login form and back end, including logos, favicons, headers, and footers.
  • Offers a visual CSS editor.

Price: This is a premium plugin, available from CodeCanyon for $29.

5. Tailored Login

The Tailored Login plugin.

The Tailored Login plugin features a built-in style manager for your login form, and provides a wide range of customization options. It lets you add optional widgets, plus you can personalize the backgrounds, headers, buttons, and more for your login area. The plugin is part of an iThemes membership, which includes premium support and a community forum.

Key Features:

  • Provides a style manager that enables you to customize colors, fonts and widget areas.
  • Offers customizable login forms, with editable headers, footers, buttons, and links.
  • Lets you add up to two widget areas to the your login page.

Price: This plugin is available as part of iTheme’s Plugin Suite, for $247. This is a pricey option, but a potential bargain if you already have the package or are interested in some of the other plugins that are included.

Conclusion

When it comes to your WordPress site, you want to pay as much attention to tweaking your admin area as you do with the front end. Customizing your login form helps you go the extra mile with your branding, and can provide increased security and an enhanced user experience.

In this article, we’ve introduced five plugins that can help you create a WordPress custom login form to match your site:

  1. ProfilePress: Enables you to customize multiple forms on your site, offers a shortcode builder, and contains a handy Multisite Integration tool.
  2. Customize WordPress Login Page: Offers plenty of customization options for your login form, and lets you add background media.
  3. LoginPress: Simplifies the login form creation process, and helps you match the style of your site.
  4. White Label Branding for WordPress: Lets you customize your entire admin area, and control access based on user roles.
  5. Tailored Login: Offers a built-in style manager to help you tweak your login form’s background, headers, buttons, and more.

Are there any other custom login form plugins that you think are worth checking out? Let us know about them in the comments section below!



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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 Make a Custom WordPress Login Page (and Why You Should)


Chances are, you’ve put a lot of work into building your WordPress site and making it look good on the front end. However, you may be ignoring one crucial aspect: your login page.

There are plenty of reasons to customize your login form, such as to improve security, increase brand awareness, and enhance the user experience. Any one of those reasons should be enough to convince you to part from the default WordPress login screen. This simple change is a surprisingly excellent way to improve your site.

In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of creating a WordPress custom login form. Then we’ll introduce some tools that can help you accomplish this task easily, including some of the best custom login page plugins you can choose from. Let’s get started!

Why a Custom WordPress Login Form Is Beneficial to Your Site

As a WordPress website owner, you are almost certainly familiar with the default WordPress login page. It’s perfectly functional, but bare bones in appearance. It also doesn’t offer any particular security features to keep hackers and other undesirables out of your admin area. For these reasons, your login form deserves as much attention as any other area of your site.

Here are just some of the benefits of customizing your WordPress login form:

  • Better Security. You can protect your login page to redirecting your login form to a unique URL, which makes it more difficult for hackers to find your login page. Plus, you can set a limit on the number of times a person can log in, or even add multi-factor authentication.
  • Branding Consistency. Extending your branding to your login form allows you to maintain consistency with the rest of your site, so your users and team members will have a cohesive experience. Plus if you add social logins to WordPress it’s even easier for your readers or members to login and share your content.
  • Enhanced Navigation. You can use your login form to provide additional navigation for your end users. You can link to social media profiles, or even display special offers directly on the login screen.
  • Improved User Experience. You can customize your login form to take end users to any page you choose, such as a customized profile page or a specialized promotion, or you can create custom messages.

These are just some of the benefits you can reap with a custom login form. The first is the most important, however. Security should always be foremost in your mind when deciding on any change to your site, and in this case you can greatly enhance it with just a few simple tweaks.

5 Helpful Tools for Creating a Custom WordPress Login Form

By now, you understand the reasons you might want to modify your WordPress login form. Fortunately, there are plenty of plugins that can help you out (plus, many can be used to customize other WordPress forms as well). The following five options are some of the best available, with excellent feature sets and reputations for reliability.

1. ProfilePress

The ProfilePress plugin.

ProfilePress is a handy plugin that enables you to customize your WordPress custom login form, as well as your registration and password reset pages. You can also use it to build front-end user profiles unique to each user. What’s more, ProfilePress features a shortcode builder that lets you add shortcodes to any form on your site. This makes it easy to add reCAPTCHA codes, submit buttons, checkboxes, and more.

Key Features:

  • Enables you to customize your login forms, registration forms, and password reset forms.
  • Provides live previews to make the design process easier.
  • Lets you redirect logins, registrations, and password resets to custom pages.
  • Offers Multisite Integration, which enables users to create new sites via a front-end registration form.
  • Makes it possible for users to upload avatars, and provides moderation and social media-related features (premium version).

Price: The base plugin is offered for free on the WordPress.org Plugin Directory, although you can also purchase premium plans that provide additional features and functionality.

2. Customize WordPress Login Page

The Customize WordPress Login Page plugin.

The Customize WordPress Login Page plugin makes it simple to personalize your login form so that it looks just right. It provides you with the ability to modify colors, add a background image, and even create a background slideshow. In addition to its customization features, this plugin is responsive for mobile sites and integrated with Google Fonts.

Key Features:

  • Enables you to redirect users to a custom login form URL.
  • Lets you personalize your login form with colors and background media.
  • Includes social media connectivity features.

Price: Free.

3. LoginPress

The LoginPress plugin.

LoginPress makes the process of customizing your WordPress login form simple and intuitive. It enables you to edit your login page right from your WordPress dashboard, and add customized fields and messages for users. Plus, there are plenty of design-oriented features that help you match the branding and style of the rest of your site.

Key Features:

  • Lets you add custom logos and backgrounds to your login form.
  • Enables you to modify the colors of buttons and other elements.
  • Provides the option to create custom error and welcome messages.

Price: The base plugin is free, while there is a premium version with additional customization features available for $29.

4. White Label Branding for WordPress

The While Label Branding for WordPress plugin.

This premium plugin enables you to customize not just your login form, but your entire WordPress admin area. You can also use White Label Branding for WordPress to control what any user sees based on their assigned role, such as editor or author, and to hide certain areas if necessary. This creates a valuable extra layer of security for your site.

Key Features:

  • Enables you to completely customize your WordPress admin area based on user roles.
  • Lets you apply customization to your login form and back end, including logos, favicons, headers, and footers.
  • Offers a visual CSS editor.

Price: This is a premium plugin, available from CodeCanyon for $29.

5. Tailored Login

The Tailored Login plugin.

The Tailored Login plugin features a built-in style manager for your login form, and provides a wide range of customization options. It lets you add optional widgets, plus you can personalize the backgrounds, headers, buttons, and more for your login area. The plugin is part of an iThemes membership, which includes premium support and a community forum.

Key Features:

  • Provides a style manager that enables you to customize colors, fonts and widget areas.
  • Offers customizable login forms, with editable headers, footers, buttons, and links.
  • Lets you add up to two widget areas to the your login page.

Price: This plugin is available as part of iTheme’s Plugin Suite, for $247. This is a pricey option, but a potential bargain if you already have the package or are interested in some of the other plugins that are included.

Conclusion

When it comes to your WordPress site, you want to pay as much attention to tweaking your admin area as you do with the front end. Customizing your login form helps you go the extra mile with your branding, and can provide increased security and an enhanced user experience.

In this article, we’ve introduced five plugins that can help you create a WordPress custom login form to match your site:

  1. ProfilePress: Enables you to customize multiple forms on your site, offers a shortcode builder, and contains a handy Multisite Integration tool.
  2. Customize WordPress Login Page: Offers plenty of customization options for your login form, and lets you add background media.
  3. LoginPress: Simplifies the login form creation process, and helps you match the style of your site.
  4. White Label Branding for WordPress: Lets you customize your entire admin area, and control access based on user roles.
  5. Tailored Login: Offers a built-in style manager to help you tweak your login form’s background, headers, buttons, and more.

Are there any other custom login form plugins that you think are worth checking out? Let us know about them in the comments section below!



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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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