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How to Build a Social Network Using a Free WP Plugin

Did you know that it’s possible to create a social network on your WordPress site? Well… it is! You can literally turn your WordPress into a social networking platform by using the free WordPress plugin, BuddyPress! 

Why would you want such a plugin on your website? The better question is, why would you not want to install this plugin? If you would like to turn your site into a community of users, add social media features, or attempt to build an entire social media platform with WordPress, then this is the plugin for you!

BuddyPress will allow you to take your site beyond the typical blog or business page. In recent years, BuddyPress has been used as a campus-wide social networking platform for universities, as an internal communication tool for companies, as a niche social networking for very specific interest groups, and for focused communities for products and services. It is also integrated with bbPress to enhance community forms. 

By following just a few easy steps, you can gain all the social media features that you have come to know and love from your favorite social media platforms. BuddyPress comes with multiple social media elements that can integrate directly into your site. Some of those elements include detailed user profiles, published updates, the opportunity to join groups, private messaging, group messaging and so much more. It allows website visitors to network with each other, stay updated on new information, and stay in touch with things going on in the community. This social networking plugin allows you to build your own online platform for any online or offline community!

One of the coolest things about BuddyPress is that there are over 500 plugins available to help you add unique features to your site. But, you do not have to use them! If you only want to use a select few, BuddyPress will adapt to that and only show the menu items and pages for the features you have enabled. Did we mention it is FREE?

This multi-feature packed plugin is easy to integrate into your website and it is very easy to get started! BuddyPress can be installed on your site directly from the WordPress plugin directory.  Are you ready to Install?

  1. To begin, log in to your WordPress website’s admin area and find Plugins on the left-hand panel on your screen. Hover your mouse over Plugins. You will see that you have a choice between Installed Plugins or Add New. Press Add New. On the right-hand side, you’ll see a search bar that will allow you to search for options. In that bar, search for BuddyPress. 

2. You will see that BuddyPress shows up on the left-hand side of the screen. In the BuddyPress box, press Install Now. BuddyPress then installs into your system and you will see the option to activate. Press Activate

3. After you have pressed activate, you will see this popup. 

4. The picture above is basically welcoming you to the newly activated plugin and letting you know about the recently updated version of BuddyPress. From there, you can click the X in the top right-hand corner and mess with the settings on the newly installed BuddyPress menu, located under the settings sidebar menu. 

5. You can individually activate or disable any component. This makes BuddyPress extremely beneficial for those who only want to add a few of the many social networking elements to their website.

6. Under Components, check any element that you think would fit nicely into your site. You can also uncheck elements that you do not think would look good on your site. This is really where you can add all of your social networking elements.  As you can see, the tabs next to components are Options, Pages, and Credits. The Options button allows you to access the toolbar. The Pages tab allows you to configure the pages that are using the BuddyPress plugin to show member information and their activity. You can also set up the registration and activation Pages in the Pages tab as well.  

This is what your page will look like if you do not yet have any members on your site. The down arrow next to members will allow you to associate a WordPress page with each BuddyPress component directory. Use the down arrow to view the list and choose. The options range from live web chat, to blog, to test page, to set an appointment, and much more.

From there, you can begin adding people to your social network! In addition, the visitors to your site can register to become members! Feel free to play with the different features available to see what you like the best!

Wasn’t this process easier than you anticipated? Are you ready to start your own social network? Go get ’em!

What is WordPress and How Does it Work?

In today’s modern-day of unlimited Internet access and seemingly paper-thin smartphones, it is easy to assume that a majority of people know all about web creation websites like WordPress. My assumptions were proven wrong when somebody genuinely asked me, “What is WordPress?”. After thinking about that question it occurred to me that some people are very unaware of WordPress and what it has to offer. If you are stirring in silent embarrassment because you are also asking yourself the same question, then do not worry. This article is for you. 

WordPress is known as the most powerful, straightforward and versatile website content management system (CMS) in existence today. If you own a website, it is your website’s operating system. In simple terms, WordPress is the engine to your “vehicle”. In this case, WordPress is the engine, while your website is the vehicle. 

WordPress allows you to create and customize any kind of website that you want. It provides you with interchangeable themes, fonts and styles. People have created websites that feature topics such as E-commerce, social networking, business, membership, portfolio, forums, events, E-learning, weddings or even a simple blog. WordPress originated as a blogging tool but later developed into the content management system that it is today. 

Whether you’re an aspiring business owner attempting to establish your online presence or you’re secretly passionate about gardening and want to create an online outlet, it is easy for anyone to create a website. In fact, WordPress operates over 30% of all websites on the Internet.

There are many benefits to joining WordPress’s large and powerful website community. WordPress is very simple to operate, which is one of the most intriguing elements of the website. The website content management system is very easy to use, even for beginners. WordPress allows you to create and publish your website content quickly. Another great feature is that the actual WordPress software is free to download and use. WordPress also operates on all screen sizes and devices. It even comes in the form of an app! There are two different types of WordPress websites that you have the option to use.   

  • WordPress.org: This site is known as the self-hosted and free version of WordPress. This WordPress software is, in fact, free and is considered an open-source. Open-source means that you have the freedom to build, use, and modify the software in any way that you’d like without having to pay a fee. It also means that it’s licensed under the GNU Public License and it isn’t owned by one single company. With this software, you essentially install your own web host to create your website. This site does not generate any income. It also does not offer any support for its users. Using this site gives you more ownership as well as access to all the website’s perks. Anybody can download this version. WordPress.org is managed by the nonprofit WordPress Foundation.
  • WordPress.com: This is a paid, profit-geared service that is operated by WordPress.org software. WordPress.com is a simple site that any person can navigate and use. With this service, you are essentially paying WordPress to host your site and handle everything for you. This service relieves you from the responsibility of building and managing your website. Many people choose this service because they want a professional website, created and operated by actual professionals. Once you pay for the WordPress.com service, you are paying to not have to worry about those things. This is a fantastic option for someone who has a business but does not have time to create a website. WordPress.com is a for-profit business owned by Automattic that uses WordPress.org open-source software. 

To get started with a self-hosting WordPress website, you will need to pay for web hosting and a domain name. If you choose to continue with a web hosting provider, the domain name, website and many other features will come with the package.

WordPress is used by all kinds of people for various reasons and goals. It is used by individuals, small businesses, large corporations, nonprofit groups, and many more. For example, the official White House website, BBC America, The Walt Disney Company, Vogue and so many more use WordPress to power their site. Take a look at each company’s website, the design, and how it correlates with the culture of the company or business. These examples depict an attractive outline for how a well-constructed website can look. Although these widely-known businesses utilized WordPress.com to their advantage, you can still create a free site using the open-source software. WordPress makes building a website easy and available to everyone, even people who aren’t developers!

WordPress Themes Without the Complexity

wordpressThe Right WordPress Theme for Your Website

There are literally tens of thousands of WordPress themes, and at last glance there were over 11,000 just on Themeforest alone. Others like MOJO Marketplace is a huge marketplace for WordPress themes, services and plugins. They currently offer over 1100 WordPress themes themselves.

cRaZy fast websites

Navigating through all those themes can be daunting, yet at the end of the day, every webmaster just wants a website that is easy to find, immediately captures its visitor’s attention, draws them deeper into the site and performs really, really well. Like cRaZy fast.

Who needs extra complexity?

Who wants to trust their non-profit, e-commerce store or online magazine to just any ol’ theme? Not you, not me, not anyone. Websites are already complicated enough without adding another level or dimension of complexity to the process.

Hostirian allows its clients to install the theme of their choice

This is why Hostirian offers robust themes to its web hosting clients in multiple platforms, and allows them to install any theme of their desire.

One of the reasons we allow for the installation of any theme on our BUSINESS and WORDPRESS DEVELOPER PLANS is to give our clients unlimited flexibility in the design of their sites. The collection of themes that are available have been used by millions of webmasters, website developers, photographers, organizations and creative professionals to present a highly sophisticated appearance to their websites, combined with unparalleled functionality.

We recommend Elementor

Can’t find a theme you love or just want to enhance the one you have? We recommend joining over a million users who use Elementor, the #1 WordPress Page Builder.  It’s significantly faster than other site builders as it allows you to design on the front end with immediate, real-time results. It’s also FREE and OPEN SOURCE, and it does not force you to learn code. Need it to display well across multiple devices? It’s underlying source code is compact and optimized for every device and screen.

Use in combination with your favorite theme

Use Elementor with your customized or favorite theme. Elementor allows you to change your themes and still keep all your designs. Elementor can be used to design any page or custom post type on WordPress.

Design is paramount

As we continue to enhance our web development offerings, we’ll look to emerging trends that promise to deliver the design look and style for real value-add and agility for our clients. Why? Design is a paramount element of any website, regardless of the code or method to create it.

Separate your website from the competition

Every website developer and business owner is forced to compete with their rivals to offer a compelling online user experience, where the intuitiveness and aesthetics of their sites favorably separate them from their competition. In essence, your visitors are judging your site against the site they just left.

What about SEO?

Will the design, functionality, aesthetics and value-add content of your website help you in SERPS (search engine results pages)? Absolutely, YES. Fantastic looking sites are the very basis of incredible digital experiences.

Hostirian is here to help

At Hostirian, we are committed to arming our clients with the information and tools they need to develop the best sites possible. We’re definitively excited and looking forward to all the fantastic looking websites our clients are going to build. As always, we’ll continue to scour the Internet looking for new methods to assist our clients to do what they do best, and that is to run successful businesses.

Avoiding WordPress Pitfalls

Avoiding-WordPress-Pitfalls

My gosh, there must be a thousand tutorials on how to set up WordPress, but most of them miss a few key points that can spell trouble down the line. I’ll list a few of the more important things to look for, but this is far from a complete list.

Poorly written themes and plug-ins can wreak havoc on your website

WordPress core files won’t typically cause any issues unless webmasters don’t keep pace with their revisions, but poorly written themes and plug-ins certainly can and frequently do create havoc. Why?

Not all themes and plug-ins are created equally

Thousands of different individuals and vendors have created plug-ins and built custom themes to improve the functionality and look of WordPress websites. Unfortunately, some are better coded than others, and many do not stay current or compatible with updated versions of WordPress (which we all know happens a LOT).

Before you start performing Internet speed tests, check your plug-ins

When you have, for instance 15 plugins installed on your site, and something bizarre kicks up its crazy head, like response time slowing to a crawl, many times it isn’t the server causing this issue, or the speed of your Internet connection. It’s one plug-in or theme throwing rocks as big as boulders at your site.

Easter Egging

How do you know which one is the culprit? More often than not, unless a Google search uncovers a common problem across multiples sites, the way most recommended is to turn off your plug-ins one by one and re-test. It’s called Easter Egg troubleshooting.

Selecting the right plug-in

When you’re analyzing which plug-in to install, you’ll be presented with its version, the author’s name, when it was last updated, what version of WordPress it requires, which version of WordPress that it’s compatible with, how many active installations there are and its average rating from one to five stars based on total reviews.

You’ll also see its description, installation instructions, frequently asked questions (FAQ), screenshots, reviews and a link to its Homepage.

What to look for

Of course, the most important of these is its description. Does it add functionality to your website? From there, I recommend checking when it was last updated and is it compatible with your current version of WordPress.

What do the reviews say?

Read a few of the 5 star reviews AND the 1 star reviews. Sometimes, a one-star review will point out something that completely disqualifies using it on your site. Some examples:

  • TERRIBLE SUPPORT
  • Extremely slows down MySQL
  • Or the plugin was the main problem on my site.

Don’t forget to check how long ago that review was written. Maybe that issue was addressed in later revisions.

Themes, on the other hand, are a different breed

Just on Themeforest alone, there are over 11 thousand WordPress themes ranging in price from free to over sixty dollars. Most of the themes display their version numbers, and are updated just like WordPress from time to time.

Take note of total sales and comments

Some themes have sold thousands of times, but that doesn’t mean your website will look like any of the others. Most themes are highly customizable.

What you’ll need to look for is whether that theme is high resolution, is it widget ready, what browsers is it compatible with, what software versions of WordPress is it compatible with, what plugins will it work with, is it mobile responsive, is it well documented and what files are included.

Most themes have Live Previews

Absolutely look at some of your prospective themes in live preview mode. Be aware though that the images on that demo are generally not included and only serve as placeholders for presentation purposes.

If on ThemeForest, was the author of that theme an Elite Author

Has that author’s work ever been featured? And do they offer extended support, and if so, at what price? Does that author respond to support requests quickly and are his answers professional and value-add.

Don’t forget categories of themes

Thousands of WordPress themes have been written in different categories such as corporate, retail, entertainment, education, wedding and technology. You name it – there’s a category for it.

Pitfalls – smitfalls! You’ve got this covered now.

PS: Many of the issues created by coders can be overcome by simply hosting your website on an insanely fast web server, like Hostirian’s PCIe NVMe servers. They’re six times faster than SSD servers and many times faster than the server you’re probably using now.