Communities are an important part of the internet – and to think it all started with chat rooms and instant messenger. Of course online communications have advanced significantly since then but the goal remain the same – to connect users across the world. And what better way to connect than with WordPress?
WordPress is one of the best and easiest ways to create your own online community whether your goal is to build a forum, social network or even a dating site. There are easy to use themes and powerful plugins you can use. When browsing community themes you’ll likely notice that there are three main ways they’re built.
bbPress: This is a free plugin you can use to build a forum with WordPress. It allows users to post, respond and connect on your website in a commenting type format. Learn more in our complete bbPress guide that covers general features and setup.
BuddyPress: If your goal is to create a social network, then BuddyPress is for you. This plugin allows users to connect through profiles, direct messaging, groups, friends and more. If you can’t decide, review our bbPress vs BuddyPress guide or get started with our BuddyPress how to.
Custom: Some websites forgo the first two options and either create a custom platform, or mix various plugins like paid WordPress memberships and advanced user profiles to create a unique community management system.
All three of these are great options, but it’s up to you to consider what type of site you’d like to create and to then choose a theme that’s compatible with the plugin(s) of your choice.