Before we get into the details of the WordPress community plugins, lets talk about WordPress and the different types of communities you can create on it.
WordPress is quickly becoming one of the most prominent tools for web developers to use when creating new sites of all types. Many people aren’t aware of the fact that they can actually use WordPress to create a community site in addition to a traditional business site or a blog.
Community sites allow users to interact with one another, instead of just providing informational articles or content. Although these sites are generally thought of as being some of the most difficult to develop, WordPress’s streamlined functionality makes it very easy.
Most community sites need to incorporate many different types of functions, for example, private chats, forums, comment sections, etc. You’ll also need to enable a large number of users to create their own account, each with different levels of access.
WordPress makes much of this very easy, because they already have integrated user account management, as well as easy posting and commenting mechanisms. It is also very simple to use WordPress Community plugins to add complex functions that the site doesn’t provide, which we will discuss more in-depth momentarily.
Decide the Type of Community You Are Looking For
There are three main types of community sites that you can create with WordPress. And you will need to decide which one best suits the needs of you or your company.
The first is a forum, where content is completely discussion-based, and users have the ability to start new threads or posts.
The second is a community blog, which works very similarly to a traditional blog, except that it allows users from around the world to post.
Finally, you can create a social network, which allows users to interact more privately and make new connections with posts, discussions, photos, and more.
To make this decision, you will need to evaluate your needs, as well as the overall purpose of the site for its users. If the site is there just to promote discussion, a forum might work well. But if you’d like for users to be able to make stronger individual connections, then a social network might work better.
Top WordPress Community plugins
There are several different WordPress community plugins that you can use to create a community website. Each has their own pros and cons, and can be used to create different functions.
One of the most popular WordPress community plugins is UserPro. This plugin is particularly good for creating a registration system for new users, as well as allowing them to create completely customizable profiles with in-depth information. There’s also the option for an intuitive login page with password reset, as well as connection to other social sites to log in. Users will also see their own personalized feed when they log in to the site, just like they would on popular social sites like Facebook.
Although this plugin is particularly good for creating social media pages, it is also a great choice for other types of community sites with detailed user profiles.
We’ll talk about more of the main WordPress community plugins for creating a community site. However, if you want to add other, more specific niche functions, there are a number of great plugins that can help you do so.
If you want to add a question and answer function to your site, then CM Answers is likely your best option. It’s the perfect choice for community blogs, because you’ll also have voting capabilities, and you will be able to set up polls.
If you want to create a paid membership function for your site, then MemberPress is a great way to do that. It integrates with several different online payment methods. You will also be able to easily track and manage all of your subscriptions.
Designing Your Own Forum
When creating your first forum in WordPress, you have many different tools and WordPress community plugins available. Once you have decided on which forum plugin you want to use to create your site, all you have to do is install it. Some of these plugins require a payment to install, while others are free.
If you are looking to create a forum for your site, bbpress forum is a great plugin for that function that is used all over the world and is widely regarded as one of the best WordPress plugins in general. This is because it is very light, so your forum will run very quickly and have a nice, appealing look to it. The bbpress company also offers many other types of plugins that you can use on your community site, like social linking plugins, profile creator plugins, private group creator plugins, and much more. Bbpress is also available in 11 different languages.
Cinnamon Boards is another forum creator plugin, but it allows you to create mobile and tablet ready devices, something that is hugely important for many web creators. It is very light and easy to work with, and blends with your existing WordPress theme. It works well straight from the download, but there are also many customizable options if you want to create a more detailed forum. It contains all of the necessary components of a forum, such as threads, topics, and messaging.
Creating a Community Blog
This WordPress community plugin allows users from around the internet to submit their content to your blog. It installs a form on the front of your WordPress site that users can fill out to create a post. There are options to create a draft, publish now, or publish later. The form is accessible from any page on your site.
Users can also upload images to go with their text. If you would prefer some security before posting, then you can require users to log in before submitting a post. It is very easy to install, as it has its own shortcode.
Designing a Social Network
BuddyPress is another popular WordPress community plugin that is mainly used for creating social networks. It creates user profiles, public and private groups, friend and messaging functionality, and activity feeds, just as you would see on a major social networking website. However, BuddyPress is ‘heavier’ than UserPro, bbpress, and many other popular community site plugins. So you will need to make sure that your web host performs well enough to handle that level of traffic.
There are also many other plugins that offer their own unique functionality when it comes to creating a social site. The one that you choose will depend on your own personal needs.
This is another one of the most prominent social networking plugins for WordPress. Each user can create a complete profile, connect and message with friends, and create groups. The layout is very easy to configure and customize, and you can also build forums.
WP Symposium also offers multiple languages, which is something that is unique in the WordPress community. There’s lots of help and support available for this plugin online as well, so you’ll have no problem setting it up and getting things going.
This new plugin allows you to create a private social network on your WordPress site. This is perfect for communities that need a bit of exclusivity on their site, but still want all of the features of a traditional social network. The layout is very similar to Facebook, so users can navigate it very intuitively. Users can share their statuses, photos, and videos with the community.
The plugin is formatted for mobile phones and tablets as well to make things even easier. It is very easy to manage, with statistics and user information available on one integrated admin page.
You may also need to add additional social plugins on top of the main one that you choose to get your desired functionality. For example, you may want a specific feature that allows private messaging or friending capabilities that your original plugin does not have.
One of the nice things about WordPress is that most plugins are compatible with each other, so you will be able to add them as you need them to create the site that is best for you.Once you have figured out what type of community you need, finding the right WordPress community plugin becomes much easier.
So are you ready to create your own community with WordPress? Let us know of any other specific WordPress community plugins that you have been using for your site in the comments below.