Hosting Tutorial & Guide

How to Use BuddyPress to Create a Staff Intranet in WordPress

updated on May 19, 2017
How to Use BuddyPress to Create a Staff Intranet in WordPress Many organizations and companies build an intranet to provide a private place for their staff and members to communicate and collaborate. WordPress makes it easy to create a staff intranet because of the various possibilities like project management, private social networking and user management. A plugin that accelerates the progress, then, is BuddyPress.

BuddyPress is one of the most popular WordPress plugins designed for building a social network. But its features also allow you to create a highly customizable staff intranet easily in the way you want.

Before reaching out to the plugin installation, you have to spend some time planning. For example, if you have multiple teams which are operated separately, you will want to create groups for them. Besides, whether you need a private messaging system depends on the availability of any external official communication system like company email.

After figuring these things out, you can now start with WordPress and BuddyPress.

Get Started with BuddyPress

If you are going to start everything from the ground, there are multiple things to do before you can configure and manage your own intranet with BuddyPress. First of all, you must choose a BuddyPress hosting package that is able to support your online presence. A quality VPS might also be needed if your team is going to deal with many file uploads. Of course, you can host BuddyPress on your own server, too. When a server is ready, you need to do the following things.
  • Install WordPress on the server with an auto installer or by following this tutorial.
  • Install BuddyPress on the new site as you always do to install a WordPress plugin.
  • Install a free WordPress theme that is compatible with BuddyPress, or purchase a premium BuddyPress theme which gives you more possibilities. A simple design is preferred since it doesn't distract the users.
Create a Staff Intranet with BuddyPress

For this post, we will create a standalone WordPress site with BuddyPress installed that allows managing multiple teams. A free theme is used.

Set Up BuddyPress for a Staff Intranet

BuddyPress comes with a lot of settings which you have to deal with after installing it. Those settings help a lot with the creation of an intranet that you really need. Below are the necessary steps to take for the basic website customization of a proper intranet.

Decide the features you want

BuddyPress includes multiple components which are the main features of it. You can access the plugin's settings through Settings > BuddyPress, and under the "Components" tab, you are able to see all the components. Some of those components are enabled and some are disabled by default. However, you can enable or disable any of them according to your own needs except for "BuddyPress Core" and "Community Members".

BuddyPress Components

Our suggestion is to activate all the components unless you have already got good replacements for some of them. Among those inactive ones, private messaging ensures that team members get a way to communicate in the system itself, and the user groups are important if your company comes with multiple departments that require separate member listings and activity streams. Of course, the site tracking enables each member in the intranet to see the latest activities and the new comments.

For the other components, they are also quite necessary for easier management. For instance, notifications allow you to publish site-wide notices via email or with a toolbar bubble, and account settings enable the team members to adjust some simple settings to their own preference.

After activating the components, remember to save the settings. Depending on your selection of the components, BuddyPress will create the pages that you should need, such as the member listing page, activity streams, and the registration page. It's good to stick with those defaults.

BuddyPress Pages

Deal with the plugin's options

You may have noticed that there are some additional options under the "Options" tab which offer you the possibility to do more customizations. The default settings are good, but we do suggest you disable the "Group Creation" option in the Group Settings section unless you want to allow everyone to create groups by themselves.

Besides, you may also want to disable "Account Deletion" in the Main Settings section because maybe only the site administrators should gain the permission to do this.

BuddyPress Options

Choose the proper front page

It is possible that you want to make a custom front page to display some certain pieces of content. But for an intranet, we suggest you use the activity streams as the front page so that everyone can be informed of the updates as soon as he/she is logged in. To do this, go to Settings > Reading, and select "Activity" as the front page.

Set Up Front Page

Set up the navigation menu

Since you are building an intranet, you should create a proper navigation menu so that users can access the important parts more easily. To make a menu, visit Appearance > Menus, and follow the steps below.
  • Choose to create a new menu and give it a name.
  • Open the "BuddyPress" section in the left side of the screen, and select the pages that you want to show as the menu items.
  • Adjust the order of the menu items.
  • Check "Primary Menu" in the Menu Settings, and save the menu.
If you need a more detailed tutorial, read this post about creating a navigation menu in WordPress and customizing it.

Create Navigation Menu

Configure the widgets

BuddyPress provides several widgets which you can add to the widgetized areas of your intranet to allow easy access. Below are some of the available choices.
  • Sitewide Notices – The recent notices posted by the administrator.
  • Members – A list of the members that are popular or recently active.
  • Log In – A login form for the logged-out members.
According to your needs, you can drag any of these widgets to the sidebar or footer.

BuddyPress Widgets

So far, you have got an intranet set up with BuddyPress and WordPress. But to make it fully usable, there are more things to do.

Staff Intranet

Add Users and Groups to the Staff Intranet

When your intranet is ready, the next thing is to add the different teams and team members to it so that it can be put into real use.

Add users to your intranet

Adding users is simple as you only need to go to Users > Add New, and then enter the user details. Sending emails to the new users is suggested in order to grab their attention. The role could simply be "Subscriber".

If you have a large number of users, it is better to include the details in a CSV file and then import the users to your intranet from the file. A plugin named WP Ultimate CSV Importer should help.

After the users are added, they can add updates which will be shown as activities. You, the administrator, as well as other users, will be able to see the activities with a login as long as you have followed our guide to set Activity as the front page.

Add Users to Intranet

Add groups to your intranet

For those users, you are able to divide them apart by creating groups. This can be done by clicking the Groups menu item in WordPress dashboard. On the Groups screen, click on "Add New". There are several steps you have to finish. The first step is to provide the group name and description.

Group Details

When you continue, you will be faced with several settings in the next step. Firstly, you need to decide whether the group should be a public one, a private one, or a hidden one. Just read the privacy details and make a choice. Then, you need to choose who can invite others as members. We'd suggest you give the permissions to the admins and moderators only.

Group Settings

For the third step, you are asked to upload an image as the group's profile photo. And for the last step, you need to upload a cover image that is used in the header of the group. When you are finished, you will see the new group in the group list.

Create Group

By editing the group, you are able to add new members to it by entering the usernames. For each member of the group, you can also change the role easily, and remove him/her as you want.

Add Members to Group

Start Using Your Intranet

Now you have finished the basic configurations of a new staff intranet. Your users will be able to communicate and share ideas in it in an easy way. But you may get other things to do, too. For example, if there are some events to plan and manage, you'd better add an event management system into the intranet so that all users can keep track of the events. What to do depends on your specific needs.