Do you find online communities and websites that host them interesting? Building such a website from scratch is exciting and engaging but what is the best platform to use? WordPress is definitely worth considering. It offers access to several free and paid themes and plugins.
Instead of focusing on the technical side of building a community, WordPress can help you focus on actually building it.
There is a specific category of plugins built to streamline it – The WordPress community plugin. Today we will answer the question of what is a WordPress community plugin and help you to learn how it can help you build an online community.
What Is a WordPress Community Plugin?
Online communities come in many shapes and sizes, such as community blogs, online forums, and social networks. For a network of people to qualify as an online social community, it needs to have access to chat systems, interactive tools and platforms, and discussion boards.
You don’t need to build all these tools and platforms from scratch. WordPress is a content management system that enables you to build and launch a website in no time. It also offers access to a variety of plugins. Each one of them adds a unique function or feature to your website.
WordPress social community plugin, in particular, adds functionalities to your WordPress website so you can easily create an online community or social network on your own. There are many WordPress social community plugins available. Some plugins are highly specialized, enabling users to build only one thing, such as a social media platform. However, there are also plugins that are quite versatile such as WP User Manager, enabling you to build a completely customized WordPress community.
How Do You Create a Community on WordPress?
Putting together a WordPress community website is straightforward. The latest community plugins give you options. You can build and launch a WordPress website from scratch and add online community functionality to it.
If you already have a website up and running, there is no need to change anything. You can use a plugin to create a member directory, add registration and login pages, and start building a community.
Before you jump straight to creating a community, though, you need to choose which WordPress community plugin you want to use. You’ll get surprised how many there are. How do you decide? You should take your time to do research giving special attention to some of the most important features:
- Installation – you don’t want to spend hours installing a plugin; give advantage to plugins that support one-click installs and are usable right out of the box.
- Ease of use – having to write code to actually use a WordPress plugin is counterintuitive. Look for plugins that are built with ease of use in mind.
- Pricing – there is no need to spend a fortune on a plugin; look for plugins that have affordable pricing options.
- Customer support – make sure that the plugin developers have comprehensive documentation, user guides, FAQ, and offer access to customer support.
- Login options – modern users crave a delightful experience; plugins with multiple login options are smarter choices like those that offer social login.
- Browsability – if you want to add your member lists to a webpage and/or create user profiles, you need a plugin that comes with these features.
Once you choose a plugin for the job, you can log in to your WordPress dashboard as the administrator, click on “Plugins > Add New.” Type the name of the plugin in the search box, and click “Install Now.” Wait for the plugin to download and install. To complete the installation, click “Activate.”
Which Is the Best WordPress Community Plugin?
While the competition is harsh in the WordPress community plugin niche, there is one plugin that rises above the competition – WP User Manager. Such a bold claim calls for explanation and hard evidence.
First of all, WP User Manager aced the checklist mentioned above, and it comes with several features. It’s easy to use right out of the box, has great customer support and documentation, offers affordable pricing plans, and promotes ease of use. But there is more to it.
WP User Manager takes care of the front end and contributes to making the website beautiful. You can use pre-built user registration forms and customize them to your own needs. It also has support for custom user avatars so that users can add whatever picture they want.
With this plugin, you can also display great-looking user directories on any of your site’s pages. There are also ten custom block templates you can add to your WordPress site if you prefer using Block Editor over Classic Editor.
Classic editor users can simply copy/paste the shortcodes the plugin generates to add users to a specific page. It even has support for WordPress’s most popular eCommerce plugin – WooCommerce.
You can use it to enable members to display product purchases, leave reviews, and update shipping and billing addresses. Finally, the plugin supports custom widgets so you can display user data and forms in sidebars.
Are WordPress Community Plugins Free?
Many WordPress site owners and managers are worried about the costs related to the creation of an online community on WordPress. They have the right to be. Some of the WordPress community plugins come with a significant price tag attached to them.
To answer your question – yes, there are plenty of plugins that are completely free, including WP User Manager. If you hit the WordPress.org page listing for WP User Manager, you’ll be able to see that it is regularly updated with over 10,000 active installations. More importantly, it comes with over ten community-building features that are completely free.
On the other hand, WP User Manager also offers paid versions of the plugin available through lifetime and more affordable yearly plans. In terms of building an online community on WordPress websites, the paid version of the plugin offers more useful features such as user verification, content restriction plus, security, social login, and more.
Which Other WordPress Community Plugins Are Available?
WP User Manager is not the only WordPress community plugin available to you. You have plenty of options to explore. Let’s quickly go through some of them.
BuddyPress is a great community plugin available to everyone who wants to build social networking websites on WordPress. It’s an open-source project and completely free. It comes with all the features to help you build a website that resembles popular social media platforms such as Facebook. The features include profiles, groups, activity streams, notifications, private messaging, and friendships.
Peepso is also a comprehensive community plugin. It also specializes in the social network niche. It extends the functionality of your WordPress site with social networking features such as activity stream, reactions on stream posts, notifications, and more.
Youzer is a user profile plugin you can use to build an online community on your WordPress website. It’s a complex plugin with support for a members directory, a global news feed, and a group directory. Whether you want to add community functions to your website or build your own social network, it has all the features you need to do it.
*Needs to link to previous blog posts comparing WP User Manager to other software available (I couldn’t find the content on the official WP User Manager website to link to)*
How Do I Create a Private Forum on WordPress?
Forums and discussion boards are great when it comes to building online communities. Now that you know what a WordPress community plugin is and what it enables you to do, you can put your knowledge to practice. It can help you create any type of membership WordPress site, including forums, and manage your community hassle-free.
However, not one of the WordPress community plugins can create a forum. To do it, you’ll need to install and use a forum plugin for WordPress. There’s a great step-by-step guide on WPBeginner you can follow to create a private forum. With WP User Manager user registration, profiles, and content restriction features, you can turn it into a full-proof private forum.
How Do I Create a Website With Users and Profiles in WordPress?
WordPress is a great content management system for many reasons. One of the reasons is its capability for upgrades. There are thousands of WordPress plugins to help you do literally anything you imagine with your website. If you want to create a website with users and profiles, you’ll need to install and activate a WordPress community plugin such as WP User Manager.
The moment you install WP User Manager on your WordPress website, you’ll be able to publish customized user registration forms and publish their public profile pages. For your convenience, you can even publish your entire user directory anywhere on your website. It’s as simple as copy/pasting a shortcode generated by the plugin.
Hopefully, now you understand what a WordPress community plugin is. All the plugins in this category commonly share the user registration and user profile features. However, each one of them is unique and offers unique WordPress functionality extensions.
Before choosing the right one for you, make a list of everything you’ll need to build an online community and go with a plugin that offers appropriate functionality and at an affordable price.