BuddyPress is a WordPress plugin that turns your website into a social network. As you would imagine, when you create a BuddyPress website, you usually get a single community! But what if you want to create a network of communities? Using WordPress multisite you can create a BuddyPress multisite community network. BuddyPress have their own excellent technical guide for how to set up a WordPress multisite with BuddyPress. In this post, we are going to focus more on what you can achieve with a BuddyPress Multisite network.
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Creating a BuddyPress Multisite Template
The first thing you will want to do is create a template community. This will be the site on which all other communities in your network will be based on. You wont use this template – so be sure to name it something like do not touch. The key here is planning. Consider all the features you want to add to each community in your multisite network.
Note – each community doesn’t have to be the same. You can change each site’s theme, update settings, install or remove plugins.
Managing Individual Communities in the Network
The standard method for managing a BuddyPress community is to have Admin access to the WordPress Content Management System. This is OK if you know your Network Managers have the skills to navigate the WordPress admin. But there is another option.
The solution is to build a simple admin panel, within the community itself. This admin panel can offer all the essential community management tools while removing the confusion and potential for making mistakes that comes with WordPress Admin access.
Creating an Admin Panel for your Network managers
We’ve built many BuddyPress multisite communities at Zipline. And more often than not, we have added font-end admins panels. Each client will have a different set of needs. But we have found some common features that get rolled out on most BuddyPress multisite community networks:
- Profile Questions – Create and manage profiling questions for members
- Members – Manage members, invite, bulk invite, remind, remove. Everything a Community Manager needs to run a community effectively.
- Emails – Ability for Community Managers to design, draft and send automated messages like welcome emails and draft and send custom.
- Design – Tools to allow Community Managers to update the look and feel of their community and messaging related to the community. Tools can include adjusting a full range of site colours, adding logos, updating fonts and more.
- About Page – upload tools to build a comprehensive about page
- eLearning – Leveraging Learndash, to allow Community managers to create and manage courses directly from the community
Talk to a member of our team about BuddyPress multisite
Linking your BuddyPress Multisite communities together
OK. So you have set up your community template. And you have made it super-easy for your network managers to administer individual communities. Now you need to think about how the network element is going to work.
Again, experience comes into play here. Over time, we’ve had clients ask for a variety of different conditions:
- Members should be able to freely more from one community to another
- Members of one community should not have any form of access to any other community!
- There should be a central hub website that can be used to access each individual community
- If a member pays for a premium service in one community, they can access those features in a different community
- Payments made in one community go to that Network Manager/Owner
- Payments are centralised and then split up
The great thing is all these requirements and many more can be managed. The important thing is to consider the settings you want to put in place in advance. Remember, it’s easier to put something in place at the start that it is to change it later!
Creating an iOS and Android App for your BuddyPress Multisite network
Finally, there’s the question of an app for your community network. Having an app is fundamental for any success of community-powered platform. Having the right type of app is even more important!
Broadly speaking, there are three options for creating a companion app for your buddypress community network
- Single App – If you have unified brand for your buddypress community network, you run all communities though a single app. ZippApp, our in-house technology for taking BuddyPress communities to the iOS and Android app stores, uses member detection to direct individuals to the correct community, within the app. If they are members of multiple communities, they have access to smart switching tools.
- Dedicated Community Apps – This is a great solution is each community has its own identity. Individual apps can be published to support each community in the network.
- Both! – the last option is to have a hybrid of the two. A universal app and dedicated apps. This solution is offers the best flexibility.