The Beginner’s Guide to BuddyPress (Open Source Social Networking)

BuddyPress is plugin that adds social network like abilities to the acclaimed CMS WordPress. Adding features like a better profile for your blogs writers which combined turn it into a fully fledged social networking site.  Most of the possibly for this great plugin aren’t even existent yet!  As more and more sites start to use BuddyPress its true power, and that of WordPress is astonishing.


Despite all this BuddyPress isn’t too hard to set up and use. In its early days a BuddyPress install required WPMU to run on, although since 1.2 that’s all changed, as BuddyPress can now run on a single WordPress install.

BuddyPress adds the following functionality to WordPress.

Activity Streams: Members can follow the activity of their friends or groups on your site.

Extended Profiles: The default WordPress profiles don’t even compare to these ones. The profiles can include friends, activity, groups, the latest posts by the member, a profile bio, and contact info, and that’s only the default options!

Friends: Members can add each other as friends, this allows them to communicate and track each other easily.

Private Messaging: Allows members to message each other privately so discussion doesn’t have to be “out in the open”.

Groups: Members can create and join groups on whatever topics they like.

Blogging: BuddyPress can tap into the power of WPMU and as of WordPress 3, multi-site therefore allowing you to give all of your users a fully functioning WordPress blog, the blog is integrated into the activity stream, and members can post on the blogs using their own account for your site.

These features can be turned on or off in the Admin Panel depending on how many of them you want to use for your site.

As BuddyPress is built as a normal WordPress plugin its extremely easy to customize to your liking and needs, if you know the basics of WordPress plugin development then you should be able to develop for it with only an extra bit of work, referring to the BuddyPress Codex or Support Forum

You can download BuddyPress here on the official site, which also includes support for the plugin as well as being the main place for BuddyPress discussion and development.

As powerful as BuddyPress is here is some useful plugins that you may like to consider adding to your site. Most plugins that work for a normal WordPress site should work for your BuddyPress site, although there are many great plugins that require BuddyPress to function correctly.

With a massive 172 plugins currently on I’ve selected 10 plugins I think that are extremely useful.

10 Extremely Useful BuddyPress Plugins

BP Profile Privacy

Allows your users to decide who can view their profile

BuddyPress Links
Adds link & rich media sharing functionality to your site. Can really help boost your sites activity and discussion.
BuddyPress Gifts

Allows your members to send each other images as gifts. Site Admins can add / remove different gifts as they like.

BuddyPress Album+

Adds photo album capabilities to your site much like Facebook photo apps. Comes with plenty of options, although its recommended to test this plugin before use as there are a few known issues.


Integrates twitter into your BuddyPress site, allowing members to post links of their activity on your site, to twitter.


Integrates Facebook into your BuddyPress site, allowing members to post links of their activity on your site, to Facebook.

Enhanced BuddyPress Widgets

Adds two new widgets that you can use, “members” and “groups” allowing newest, Active and most Popular members or groups to be shown.

CubePoints Buddypress Integration

Allows members to earn points as a reward for taking part in the site, (requires CubePoints to work).

BuddyPress Followers

Works in the same way as the friends feature of BuddyPress except members don’t need to accept other members in order to be followed.  Works the same as twitter.

BuddyPress Template Pack

Adds BuddyPress support to a normal WordPress theme. Allowing you to use any WordPress theme you like without needing to customise it to work with BuddyPress.

5 Great BuddyPress themes

Although the default theme is a great looking theme, here are 5 more great themes to choose from.


BuddyPress theme framework, is based on Thematic a WordPress  theme framework.

Darwin (BuddyPress BuddyPack)

Jukt Micronics


Randy Candy


BuddyPress Magazine

bubbypress magazine

Demo | Purchase

What’s Up Next here on 1stWD?

This article was our first post in the BuddyPress series which gave you an introduction to BuddyPress. If you are not satisfied with the themes we listed here, feel free to browser the directory of themes over at BuddyPress official website or just wait for the 2nd article of series, in which we will show you how to create your own theme from scratch.

Have some question or confusion? Shout at us via comments section.:)


I'm Darren ,A teenager living in Ireland.I run a few different sites around the web, being my newest addition Connect with me on twitter. Look forward to hearing form you!

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  1. says

    I use buddypress on my site with cubepoints for buddypress and it’s really cool. Social Networking with this addons reach an new dimension!

    Thanks for your Post!!

  2. Richard says

    Nice article on BP thanks.
    I laughed when I saw this:
    [quote]Despite all this BuddyPress isn’t too hard to set up and use[/quote]

    On the contrary, IMHO, BP is quite hard to setup if using your own theme that needs configuring to BP.
    Plus the relationship with bbPress needs to be understood & then understanding how to manage users/members/activity is a challenge too.

    I have also found help on BP hard to access (one of my posts on BP forum only got one reply only-that didn’t answer my question!). BP & WP relationship and integration is not so easy IMHO.
    Still as I like challenges I am plugging away at using BP & increasing my experience with WordPress & BuddyPress!

  3. Vivek Parmar says

    BuddyPress offers you to build a social networking site in couple of minutes and allows you to build a network in no time.
    thanks for sharing useful plugins. will give a try to all of them

  4. Mike says

    Nice article and choice of themes. I also tried the Buddymathic theme, but I can’t install the single site version of Buddypress on it. So I chose BP columns instead, it’s simple, solid and works. I hope all of you successfully creating one social networking site too. I created one and was ecstatic. Cheers!

  5. George says

    Thanks so much for your help with learning buddypress to start my first community.

    I’d like to know if you could suggest the best way to set-up the framework… for instance, I’d like to pre-set it up with state and MSA’s (metro areas)…

    Would this be set-up as subfolders with a topic and then groups for individual topic blogs – like health and fitness, beauty, etc? How would I set that up?

    Or would should I integrate the new Gmaps template? Although I don’t know If the Gmaps will let people build their own blogs… HELP!

    I want to set it up by states and msa’s and have two main groups (health) and (beauty) and then have sub-groups where people can start their own blogs in one of those groups – like a LOCAL Facebook for health and beauty!


  6. emil says

    funny, funny thing … just a couple of days ago i got a project involving a small comunity and i decided to go with buddypress. had my doubts but in a world where buddypress doesn’t get that much attention, a series of posts about bp that just happened to start a few days after i decided to use bp is a sign that i should keep using it :)) .

  7. says

    Social Networking has reached new heights in this era. few months back social networking is centric to facebook, Myspace, etc. But now BuddyPress and such other Open Source projects provided users to have their own Social network, like a Organization can have their private Social Network…

    Love to see the future of such change…