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What the Heck is BuddyBoss and When Is It Best to Use It?

As a membership and learning site builder, I get calls from a lot people needing help with their BuddyBoss sites. They are looking to build a learning environment for their online course. They liked the BuddyBoss visual design and what the platform makes available to them. They select it for their learning site and off they go.

I am a very a big fan of BuddyBoss. They provide the only full functioning Wordpress add-on for adding full community and social media features to a learning environment, meaning you can get your members learning, interacting, messaging each other, communicating with the instructor and more. They have released a phone app version of their platform so PC/Mac and phone users can all interact using the same site.

Before we go any further, let’s go over exactly what BuddyBoss is, the functions it offers and cover some of its features. What I have seen is new site builders come to me asking me to work with them on a BuddyBoss project and when you go over what they are wanting, BuddyBoss isn’t the right solution for them.

This should be a good resource for deciding if it’s the right option for your project. I want to recognize Jeff Cobb and his article BuddyBoss Theme Review – The Best Online Community Option for Wordpress? We work a lot of BuddyBoss projects. The article covers a lot of the history and make up of the platform and it made writing this article easier.

What exactly is BuddyBoss?

To answer that, let’s start with what came before BuddyBoss.  Before BuddyBoss, there was BuddyPress. It is an open-source Wordpress plugin for adding community features to Wordpress. It enables you to create member profiles, member-to-member messaging and Facebook like activity feeds. By itself BuddyPress did a lot, but it required other plugins to get it to work.

A group of developers of BuddyPress split off and developed the two BuddyBoss products. One production is BuddyBoss Platform.  The other is BuddyBoss Theme. They are two distinct products that are designed to work together.

The BuddyBoss Platform is open-source providing features like member-to-member messaging, member profiles, social media groups and community forums. It’s built as a WordPress plugin that enables you to add community and interactivity features e-learning websites. The problem is that it’s not very pretty.

The BuddyBoss Platform works with many Wordpress themes, but BuddyBoss Theme works really well with it. When you buy BuddyBoss Theme, you get the BuddyBoss Platform packaged with it. With this solution, you get the following:

  • A platform for building your own mini-Facebook site. It includes social media features like member profiles, private groups with their own feeds, member-to-member messaging, like and friending features, etc. (NOTE: If you are building a learning site and you do NOT need these features, don’t go with BuddyBoss. You won’t be using most of what BuddyBoss offers and it will make configuring your environment that much harder.)
  • The ability to sell online courses on your membership site.
  • Straight-forward gamification features.

BuddyBoss and LearnDash, our preferred learning management system, go well together. When BuddyBoss was launched, they had a release called the BuddyBoss Social Learner for LearnDash. We started our agency as an Infusionsoft / Keap experienced team. From early on, world, we used BuddyBoss LearnDash to provide highly functioning learning sites. Using membership plugin Memberium, the site makes use of Infusionsoft / Keap for selling and controlling course and membership access.  In addition, you get power marketing automation features. For those that aren’t needing the Infusionsoft / Keap features, we’ve had great success using WooCommerce for e-commerce and MemberPress for controlling access. This is a very useful Wordpress-centric solution that is highly functioning and flexible.

Given this product stack, BuddyBoss can easily be used to build learning sites with e-commerce features for selling all sorts of products in addition to selling memberships and online courses.

Because BuddyBoss integrates so well with LearnDash, the platform is perfect for:

  • building online courses from scratch,
  • organizing course content,
  • giving students assignments and quizzes,
  • awarding badges and certificates,
  • enabling instructors to interact with students, track student progress in a course or series of courses, and
  • a lot more.

In addition, LearnDash has a strong set of vendors providing add-on functions.  Among them are Uncanny Owl and WisdmLabs. They build upon LearnDash’s standard features providing some very useful enhancements.

LearnDash was recently acquired by StellarWP, the company that brings you Liquid Web. That should provide them with investment money to further enhance the product. We’ll be watching them closely to see what develops.

You can get the BuddyBoss Theme for their yearly price of $228. Of course, there are many free themes that will provide you a very nice visual design for making your online courses and site look really good. If you are wanting to build a site with the community features, the price is more than worth given all the BuddyBoss allows you to do.

I did want to mention that it is not a simple, straight-forward solution to configure. This is especially true if you are new to building online courses and membership sites. I would recommend connecting with a team that’s done this before so they can guide you. You can benefit from the experience they’ve developed to tap into best practices and to keep you from expensive trial and error.

Hope this helps.