BuddyPress (not to be mistaken with bbpress) is an open source social networking software package (or plugin) that is used as an add on for WordPress themes in order to transform them into fully functioning social networking platforms. Designed to allow schools, companies, sports teams, or any other communities to start their own public or private social network or communication tool, BuddyPress is free to use under the GNU or General Public License.
BbPress is used alongside BuddyPress.
BbPress is an open source forum plugin that allows your “members” to post information and/or questions in a community forum setting. It is a useful tool for getting things started on your website and for encouraging members to assist one another.
Both BuddyPress and bbpress are maintained and operated by volunteer coders who design open source software.
Open source software is created by coders and developers who strive to keep valuable technologies and applications free for use by the general public. They do this by creating “collaborated” or open source softwares packages that technically do not belong to anyone in particular because the entire community was involved in the creation of them. While it is a bit more complex, that is the general idea. It is interesting to note that WordPress is an open source software.
Widely accepted as being one of the best social networking software plugins available, BuddyPress integrates easily with WordPress and WordPress plugins because it is written using the same primary technologies, those being PHP and MySQL.
While it is true, most (if not all) WordPress themes will integrate well with the BuddyPress plugin, there are some that were created specifically to be compatible with it and therefore they will work the best with it.
Currently, there are over six five BuddyPress themes (WordPress and otherwise) on ThemeForest, these are the top fifteen.
From the makers of the full screen Epix photography theme, DynamiX is one of the most powerful WordPress multi-purpose themes that incorporates BuddyPress and bbPress into its already amazing host of features. Dynamix is a stylish, professional and clean corporate style theme that can used for a variety of different websites.
Created in July of 2010, four years of updates and improvements shows that the development team is committed to their work and this is a definite plus when purchasing any theme. Great support sometimes makes all the difference.
Its lists of features is so long, it would take an entire page just to cover them all, suffice to say options such as unlimited skins, a powerful admin panel, visual page editor, revolution slider, multi site compatibility, and plugin integration for bbPress 2.1+, BuddyPress, Woocommerce and WP e-Commerce, are pretty amazing and afterall, over 8000 people who purchased it so far seem to be happy with it.
One of the things you will notice quickly about the theme is that it truly is clean and professional looking and highly suitable for any business or corporate website’s internal and external communications.
Create unique page layouts in minutes with the SuperMassive WordPress theme, a highly powerful, easy to use and professional BuddyPress theme by Ghostpool.
Like its name suggests, it really is super and massive!
As is the case in many of Ghostpool’s WordPress BuddyPress themes, it was built with BuddyPress and therefore it works seamlessly with it. In other words, BuddyPress was not merely an addition to the theme, but rather the basis for which it was created.
This theme is clean and professional looking and well suited for a corporate employee and/or client communications portal.
It has a very classic”Apple” look and feel to it, although it was not really created as such.
One of the things I look for in a theme is value and SuperMassive is a great deal with a host of options such as the JW player, WooCommerce support, front-end login and registration pages, neat shadow reflections for your images and five pre made skins.
The free, eighty dollar JW player plugin that is included with the theme, virtually covers the cost of this theme all by itself.
Xphoria is the newest WordPress BuddyPress theme on ThemeForest and while it might be new, it is definitely ready to stand up to the more experienced and sophisticated themes in this list. Its’ flat portfolio style adds a modern look and feel to the theme and it is packed with so many features and options, one might wonder how it manages to contain over 40 different inner profile pages.
Clearly, this is the most interactive, robust and user friendly BuddyPress themes ever!
Members can create a variety of different profiles, contribute to blogs and forums, as well as, engage with other like minded individuals on a daily basis using this theme. It truly is the “smack daddy” of all social networking themes and would probably be the first on the list, if it weren’t so new.
As with all newer themes, I simply err on the side of caution because all the “bugs” and minor “issues” may not have been completely worked out, however none have been reported that I am aware of.
Xphoria is a powerful social networking platform in a box that is perfect for any modern community based website.
Ideal for a huge gaming, poker or entertainment magazine, blog or fully functioning review website, PowerMag is extremely advanced, clean and somewhat “masculine” looking.
This extraordinary WordPress review theme is fully equipped with a number of features including a powerful built in review system with a unique affiliate option, the visual composer plugin, tons of shortcodes, widgets, unlimited sliders and best of all, it is highly responsive and retina ready.
PowerMag is optimized for BuddyPress, and Social Count making for one powerful community based review theme.
One of its unique features is the category color option. This option provides viewers with a quick and easy way to identify content based on colors. This is an ideal solution for grouping content and adding a splash of color to an otherwise very black and white theme.
Perhaps one of its most playful and more modern designs to date, Ghostpool’s lighthearted buddy WordPress theme looks and acts like a social networking theme. Unlike its more corporate communication style designs, it is not hard to see that Buddy was built for BuddyPress and BBpress.
Buddy puts timeline posts and forums up front and center for a truly unique and user friendly viewing experience and yes, it is fully responsive and retina ready.
Complete with galleries, portfolios, shortcodes and a host of styling features, Buddy is one of GhostPool’s best designs thus far.
Very “white,” the theme gets most of its color from the small content slider and widgets that you add to it, but this is also part of what makes the design so “playful.”
The blog has a very classic look and feel to it. The font is rather small and I suggest you change it, if you are capable of doing so. The theme is quite well done and as I am sure you have realized by now, comes with stellar support.
With all of these features, it is not that hard to notice that Cinematix is one of the most fully equipped themes in this entire collection: a 1280 px wider layout, 10 color schemes, 40 inner membership profile pages, contact 7 form, full integration of bbPress and BuddyPress, an alternative front page layout, the onebyone slider (both seen above), a responsive layout, and ready for use with events manager and over a hundred different BuddyPress extensions such as chat and social articles.
There are so many options in this theme, the better question to ask, is what is “not” included in the theme?
Professional and yet very colorful, there are hints of both a social networking site and corporate communications portal in its design, making for a really unique and fresh looking theme.
Cinematix has a timeline and forum aspect to it, yet it looks and feels more like a magazine style blog.
Unique indeed, and this is what gives it the eighth spot on this list, because like the number eight, it is just really hard to define.
Flix is a social networking site with a twist ~ it was meant for team blogging.
Flix is a unique WordPress BuddyPress theme created by Bebel that is all about the content and email marketing aspects of the design rather than the social networking ones. BuddyPress support is included into the theme allowing you to create a complete blogging and guest posting platform whereby members sign in and contribute articles and posts to build the content.
All of these features, combined with the SmartTab system, puts your authors and their content into the spotlight and showcases a huge amount of content, which is ideal for SEO.
The theme looks like a classic blog and has great features like mailchimp integration, responsive behavior and front end login system for posters.
If your looking for a true team blogging platform, Flix is the best theme for your needs.
Klein is an “out of the box” or ready made WordPress theme built to support BuddyPress, bbPress, and WooCommerce and is perfect for community or social networking website that collaborate through forums or sell products via reviews.
The newest version of Klein(2.0) has a few clever additions such as the visual composer and slider revolutions plugins that allow you to create an unlimited number of designs and page layouts. Complete with paid membership pro integration, mailchimp ready, facebook login capabilities and so much more, Klein is a quick and easy solution to a social networking theme.
There are two home versions of the theme, legacy and slider. The legacy design is clean and flat, but might not be for everyone as it is somewhat “boxy” and the colors are a little bit “different.” The slider one is much more modern and user friendly.
No matter how you use it, Klein is a reasonably good theme with a great deal to offer.
9. One Community
Perhaps the cleanest and most modern looking themes, OneCommunity WordPress BuddyPress theme is one of my personal favorite designs. It is well laid out, has a great deal of white space and interactive featured areas. Integrated with BuddyPress and complete with tons of customizable options such as nine different color schemes, four different front pages, portfolios and shortcodes, OneCommunity is also one of the most flexible themes.
Members have access to over forty different inner pages and can be blocked from pages that you do not want them to have access to.
For use in a simple or more complex community networking portal website, OneCommunity is responsive and updated with the latest version of WordPress (3.8). While it is a clean and white blog, it is not very “corporate,” therefore it is best used in not for profit or public access websites.
A no frills professional BuddyPress theme from the creators of SuperMassive, Bounce WordPress and BuddyPress theme rounds out the top ten for its simple solution to a corporate communications and social networking portal. Perfect for creating an internal or external networking website, Bounce is simple in comparison to many of the other themes contain herewithin.
It may be rather simple, but you can easily customize the theme by changing the homepage layout with a variety of integrated shortcodes or change the color with one of seven predefined skins, each of which are unique in their own way.
Bounce is compatible with WooCommerce and comes in a cheaper version without the BuddyPress integration. This is a great option if you just want a very nice, clean and professional looking corporate theme.
Simple yes, lacking? Certainly not!
Bounce is still going strong since its inception in May of 2012 and its not surpizing seeing as it was created by the most experienced BuddyPress authors on ThemeForest ~ Ghostpool.
GhostPool has proven time and time again that they stand by the themes they create because they continue to update their older themes even while creating newer ones. Impressive!
Razor’s authors boast that it is a cutting edge WordPress theme and I could not agree more, Razor WordPress theme looks and feels familiar because it closely resembles the Facebook social networking platform in both color and overall design.
However, unlike Facebook it can be customized from the back end with features like a drag and drop layout manager, contact form Builder, sidebar generator, home page layout build, color chooser, as well as, via custom headers and footers. Created to integrate with BuddyPRess and BBpress, Razor’s front end allows for creating a fully functioning community website, whereby members can create profiles and collaborate with one another.
Razor is responsive, has a number of portfolios and a very classic and clean looking blog making for a very professional looking social networking theme. This theme can be used to create a variety of community websites because while it is professional looking, it is still somewhat relaxed.
Well into its second year of existence, Salutation has sold over four thousand copies of its WordPress/BuddyPress theme to social networking enthusiasts everywhere. The three simple, ready made, clean and professional design choices (light, dark and purple) are what makes this theme so popular because it gets straight to the point. Sometimes the design concept is lost because it is overshadowed by tons of unnecessary boxed areas, elements or adornments. This is not the case here, in fact it is clear right from the homepage what this theme was designed for ~ which is of course a BuddyPress Social Networking site.
The fact that its development team has taken the time to continuously update and upgrade it, shows that this theme has stood the test of time.
Recent updates to the theme include the addition of responsive behavior, integrating the revolution slider and adding more customizable features such as shortcodes.
This theme reminds me of something Dad used to say, “If something isn’t broke, don’t fix it, just fancy it up”
13. Wild Community
Wild Community is one of the few BuddyPress WordPress themes that takes advantage of a full width homepage layered slider and filterable portfolio gallery that is popular with users today. The entire look and feel of the theme is definitely one of the most updated and mobile friendly ones on this list.
The graphic resolution is really quite impressive for a theme of this type.
It is interesting to note, but certainly not surprising, its’ author, Diabolique, also created the Cinematrix, Xphoria and One Community themes, each of which are equally impressive.
The theme’s overall look and feel is similar to a corporate magazine portfolio style and has a host of customizable features such as a drag and drop page builder, WooCommerce compatibility, contact 7 support and shortcodes.
Wild community was updated to WordPress 3.8 in the last few days and with this new update it will certainly be one of the best BuddyPress themes to watch out for in the upcoming year.
Mingle is a multi purpose WordPress BuddyPress ready theme that is simple, highly customizable and actually looks like a social networking theme because of its somewhat laid back style.
Complete with six ready made skins, the one seen in the image above is really the best in my opinion. Photos of your members can be placed in a circular style slider that transitions from one slide to the other, showcasing each member in a different frame. It is actually quite nice. Overall, the design concept is very “socially” appealing and well laid out.
Mingle’s features include a drag and drop page builder, sidebar generator and contact form builder.
First introduced in 2011, the theme has proven that it has what it takes to be a truly amazing theme. While it may not be the most modern theme around, it still is adequate enough to be used for a variety of web based social networking sites.
ReviewIt WordPress theme was built specifically as a BuddyPress/bbPress Review theme, meaning that all the plugin pages were designed to match the theme perfectly, unlike some other themes that use BuddyPress as an add on feature. Best of all, if you don’t want to use the BuddyPress or the bbPress plugin, you do not have to.
ReviewIt is not only an effective social networking theme, it is also a great review theme which is perfect for use in gaming or other entertainment websites where users often collaborate in order to discuss topics related to the industry.
Integrated with the powerful GD Star Rating plugin, both the post author and visitor can rate posts, vote on comments and sort reviews based on a number of different criteria.
Perhaps its only downfall is the fact that it is not responsive. The developers have indicated in the ThemeForest forum that there are no current plans to add responsiveness. Too bad, it is a great theme otherwise!
When you are creating a collection list of themes in any particular niche, it is really not that difficult to spot the experts in the field because their themes tend to show up quite often. In the case of BuddyPress themes, GhostPool and Diabolique stand out above the rest, not only for the number of themes they have to offer, but also for the fact that they provide excellent support.
As you will no doubt have noticed, many of the themes on this list are older themes that have been updated or revamped. This is true, and for a very good reason. These themes were built on a solid foundation and are highly flexible. This is very important, because BuddyPress needs to support a huge amount of content that is constantly updating itself. Users from all over the world are logging in from a variety of different devices and continuously sharing information.
Reliability, is the most important factor in a social networking theme. Design is secondary.
The fact that most of the themes been around for over two years,substantiates this very fact. In the world of social networking, expertise and experience is key to success and these themes have all proven that they have what it takes.
Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works. ~ Steve Jobs