BuddyPress, WordPress

WordPress developer’s guide to BuddyPress

Here’s the scenario: you build WordPress-powered sites for a living, or maybe for free, or even just as a hobby. Someone asks you to build their next site using a feature or two from BuddyPress. “Sure, no problem”, you say. In the privacy of your head, you’re thinking “I haven’t used BuddyPress before, but it’s meant to be a pretty nifty plugin — how hard can it be?”

A few months ago, I started working for Human Made. We help people build really robust, creative, enterprise-scale sites. While Human Made have several developers with really impressive BuddyPress development experience, I naturally look over outgoing proposals or roadmaps for those projects that might use BuddyPress to check it’s a good fit, and to help inform the project roadmap.

As we begin to ramp up work on sites powered by BuddyPress, it’s very likely that some Humans will work with BuddyPress for the first time! I think that’s REALLY exciting! As I started to write some tips from my colleagues on getting started with BuddyPress development, I figured I’d blog it publicly so others (hopefully) find it useful. So, without further ado…

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BuddyPress, WordPress

BuddyPress welcome screen design ideas

For the BuddyPress 2.2 dev cycle, I decided to spend my time exploring ideas about the experience of a new user after they activate the plugin on their site for the first time. Currently, we redirect the user to a screen listing the new major features of their version of BuddyPress; it’s a mixture of a changelog, and since 2.1, also contains elements of a “getting started” guide.

I think improving the new (site owner) experience is going to be critical for BuddyPress’ growth in 2015. Today I am sharing some screenshots of what I’ve come up with so far, but it looks like my ideas won’t be ready for wider consideration into a release until probably the 2.3 dev cycle — unless you can help. Check out my welcome screen branch on Github.

I researched a few tens of the most popular WordPress plugins (according to the list on WordPress.org), and I was surprised to see so few plugins trying to do something similar; banners across the top of wp-admin were fairly common. WooCommerce stood out because it has a similar post-install screen as to what BuddyPress currently has (we’ve both copied WordPress’ “About WordPress screen!). Automattic’s Jetpack stood out the most with its distinctive design (after you followed a banner to get to it), I suspect only because of that plugin’s requirement to connect to WordPress.com.

This is ripe ground for BuddyPress to develop an innovation lead on in 2015. I can’t propose these changes without the help of a really great designer, or two. I have put in a lot of time and effort to try to come up with a punch design solution for this problem, but it’s missing a certain je ne sais quoi I’ve not figured out yet.

Automattic, WordPress

I’m joining Automattic

I’ve been very fortunate to have worked at The Telegraph since April 2011; it was my first “real” development job, and as I said in an email to my (ex-)colleagues earlier today, I’ve enjoyed my time there and I’m very proud of what we were able to accomplish together. However, I’m after a new challenge, and so I’m moving on.

I’m extremely pleased to announce that I’ve joined Automattic as a Code Wrangler, joining their VIP team. I’m very excited to be working for such a great company, which is full of awesome and inspiring people, and I can’t wait to get started! :D

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy christmas and a great new year; 2013 is going to be awesome!