What It Takes To Build A Community Website

October 8, 2010 in Social Media by Youssef Kassab

With Berytech community growing we felt the need to create a platform where community members can interact, share news, knowledge and resources with each others.

After studying different platforms we chose WordPress which is an open source blogging system that acts also like a content management system. In addition it can be expanded to have social networking functionalities by adding the tools to help people communicate and interact. WordPress has a big community supporting it and offering lot of plug-ins to make it a very rich platform.

On a server hosted in Beirut IX we installed WordPress. This platform requires a PHP server and a MySQL database. We chose to install it on a Linux server with Apache. Our choice was based on “open source” and “community developed” technologies.

In order to make our site social and allow people to interact inside it we installed the buddypress plug-in and since additional interactivity is needed the bbpress forum was activated. We added also an event management plug-in and an image gallery. Additional plug-ins were installed to permit attaching documents to forum posts, restricting access to some groups and to add interesting functionality.

As for the design you can choose to apply a theme from thousands of templates. The original buddypress theme was used in our website but with minor modifications in order to have a 3 column layout. You can customize the appearance of the website by adding multiple widgets in the sidebars. With the installation of some plug-ins you can specify the pages on which a certain widget should appear.

A very important best practice is to always install the updates of WordPress and its plug-ins. Lot of bugs and vulnerabilities are fixed with each update. A full backup is recommended before any upgrade is done.

Our biggest challenge now is to make people use this platform to interact with each other. We’ll be posting in the upcoming days video guides on how to use this platform.