You can easily make a community site with WordPress if you have a specific need or to be more precise – you can create a social network platform. There are a few things you need to be aware off if evaluating this option. And not only administrative hurdles associated with maintaining a Community Site but rather technical aspects!
In this post I want to share couple tips that can help you evaluate your options and decide if you still want to build your social network (community site) or not…
There are several major things you need to consider if you decided to create a community site with WordPress:
Might seem like an obvious choice considering that we are talking about WordPress but in reality – it isn’t! Regular single user WordPress CAN provide you with some options and multi publisher capabilities but if you are truly looking to create a social network – you have no choice but to go with WordPress μ
WordPress Mu is a Multi-User version of the blog platform and same that you can see on WordPress.com. You do need to be aware that while it is fairly easy to setup and configure if you have technical knowledge – it will not be an easy task if you are a novice. I recommend to possibly looking to outsource the process if you are uncertain!
Once your WordPress Mu is installed – you will need a set of Plugins that will turn it into a true social network and allow you to achieve your goal – make a community site with WordPress.
BuddyPress – “will transform an installation of WordPress MU into a social network platform”. Guys behind the development have great explanations and features outline of what you will be – so I will not repeat it. Just follow this link to learn more about Buddy Press.
As much as I would love to tell you that you can simply slap your WordPress Mu blog on shared hosting I have to be honest with you – IT WILL NOT WORK! It doesn’t really matter how much the shared hosting promises to provide you disk space or bandwidth – because those resources are shared – your Community Site based on WordPress need to be designed from ground up to use a more dedicated solution.
Because WordPress Mu requires more resources than regular WordPress – it will simply not work on shared hosting properly and what is even worth – most shared hosting providers will shut down you account completely when it begin to use more resources than they see proper. And as such – all your community members will have to suffer downtime.
What is even more important – you muight not be able to install WordPress Mu on many Reseller Hosting account either! I have investigated this option by contacting hostgator and verified that one configuration setting I absolutely required for WordPress Mu installation – support for Sub-domains will not work on their reseller hosting. This options requires access to the httpd.conf file to make appropriate modifications and since that file is responcible for configuration of the Apache server that supports ALL accounts on that physical server – they told me to go and take a walk!
My Recommendation: Virtual Private Server (VPS) is what you need as a bare minimum for your WordPress Mu installation. And what you are looking for are 3 things:
- Price to features combination
- Ability to easy upgrade memory later (when needed) on your VPS
- Connection speed to Internet
After investigating multiple options I have stopped on HostICan provider. It fits all my needs and what is even more important – they are THE ONLY VPS hosting provider that gives your VPS full 1Gb connection to the Internet Switch with Unlimited bandwidth! Most of the other limit you to 10Mb, just go and check! I recommend you start out with their VPS Rage plan as it will only cost you $50 a month and suitable from getting started. Once you outgrow it – you can easily upgrade your VPS to next plan using their excellent support.
If you are thinking about providing a service to multiple people – you better be prepared to support them! No matter how much you try to automate the process – issues will come up. And I’m not even talking about regular upgrades of your WordPress Mu installation and plugins but also regular customer support to your community members!
- Setup a support forum to enable peer-to-peer support and save yourself time and effort
- Consider outsourcing technical work (upgrades and maintenance) to a more qualified (and cheaper that your own time) admin.
Options above will allow your social network not only survive but flourish! And once you have made all the right and appropriate choices, go ahead!