If you’ve been exploring different ways to launch a social network platform, you may have come across the name “BuddyPress.” BuddyPress is a WordPress plugin that its extends WordPress’ core functionality to incorporate social components. It allows users to do the following:
- Monitor activity streams for social groups
- Receive notifications from groups and friends
- Private message one another
- Interact via discussion forums
Developers who want to build social networking sites can do so much easier with BuddyPress, as it eliminates many pf the bottlenecks associated with developing a site of this nature. Many people consider BuddyPress to be “social network in a box,” and it certain is much less expensive and comes with a lower learning curve than launching your own social network site from scratch.
However, to make the most of your Buddypress site, you’ve got to ensure you’re running the plugin as efficiently as possible. Here are a few ways to make your Buddypress website operate more smoothly:
Optimize Your Speed
Speed is an iffy issue when it comes to running a BuddyPress site, and many users immediately notice that their website has slowed down significantly once they transitioned to a BuddyPress platform. You can double-check your website speed scores using on of these speed test tools. The reason why your site might slow down is because the social networking functions on the BuddyPress architecture are database-driven, which means that, whenever you’re hosting, you may potentially run into a MySQL server speed issue. This is especially true is you share your hosting with other websites, as is the case with shared hosting.
A strong virtual private server or dedicated server can help eliminate this issue. A virtual private server allows the website host to run their websites without sharing with other hosting tenants, which speeds up your site considerably. This even has the potential to increase your SEO: after all, site speed plays a major factor in user experience, and the better your user experience, the higher your search engine ranking.
Use A Content Delivery Network
If you plan on attracting users from around the world with your content, there’s no doubt that you’ll need a content delivery network (CDN). There are nearly 9 million websites using a CDN, and chances are, you’ve encountered a content delivery network within the last 24 hours. A CDN delivers web pages and web content to specific users, usually depending on location. If you were using a CDN for example, your website’s content would reside on multiple servers around the world, making it easier to distribute to end users.
In the end, anyone searching for your content would receive it from the nearest server, effectively speeding up the entire process. And research has shown that websites that take more than three seconds to load can send the user over to another site. If you want your content available to everyone, at equal speeds, a CDN is necessary.
Pick the Right Theme
WordPress theme installation is slightly different when it comes to BuddyPress. Unlike a standard WordPress theme, BuddyPress comes with many functionalities that are not supported otherwise. A simple search for the best Buddypress themes will yield hundreds of results, and each theme is designed to optimize the website as a social platform. A great BuddyPress theme creates a consistent experience for your site users: login pages, registration pages, and profile pages will all be optimized according to your design style preferences.
For example, one of the more popular BuddyPress theme options is KLEO, which, in addition to providing a theme with all the bells and whistles necessary for a great WordPress site, it comes equipped with other tools especially unique to WordPress–like a BuddyPress profile search tool and the ability to add location-based features to your online community. And because it’s a multipurpose theme, you can also incorporate additional elements, like an online store or e-learning resource center.
Other themes, like Socialize, make it easy to choose between four different layout styles and six different blog post styles, giving you ultimate flexibility.
Customize Your Profile & Registration Forms
Currently, the core BuddyPress plugin does not allow you to customize user profile and registration forms. This can be an issue for people who are creating highly specific niche sites and want to know different things about their users. Fortunately, you can use a profile builder plugin that integrates well with BuddyPress. Plugins like WP User Frontend Pro have powerful profile building capabilities that allow you to fully customize how your users create their profiles.