I have been running a Buddypress membership based niche dating site for about 2.5 years and I have tested countless great and bad plugins to make my site more attractive and add various features and functionalities which are not included in a standard Buddypress install. If you are a new Buddypress user and are looking for some nice features for a dating community site, please read on.
While Buddypress comes with a set of features such as private messaging or groups, which allow you to run a community site, there are ways to make it better when you want to enhance the dating experience. Of course there are various types of communities and what might be perfect for one, is not appropriate for other, even within a dating sphere. Some communities are free, some are premium and this in itself will ask for some special treatment or access levels. I am suggesting some general plugins anyone can use and some more appropriate for a dating site. Several of the plugins I suggest require a paid subscription but sometimes, if you want something to work well, you just have to pay for it.
While Buddypress is not an exact substitute for a fully custom built swiping dating site like Tinder, Bumble or more old school search like Match.com, a lot can be done with the right tools and it can become a great experience for your users. I have personally spent many many hours tweaking my plugins and tools and testing and fine tuning various features and css. If you are a developer then you can do a lot by yourself, if you are not familiar with php, you might have to occasionally hire a developer to tweak the plugin or Buddypress to do exactly what you need it to do. I have been doing a mix of both as I am more on the design end of things. Hope you like my suggestions.
Paid Memberships Pro ($$)
Paid Memberships Pro is a premium membership plugin which will allow you to create various memberships with different price or access levels. As far as Buddypress, you can customize what members can access such as Groups, Activity Wall, Private Messages, custom pages and such – for each level.
I have tried couple other membership plugins, but I have really liked this one best. You can join this plugin for free and then upgrade to the yearly subscription if it works for you. When you upgrade, you also get access to support. After 1 year, the price of subscription is discounted.
This plugin also comes with a lot of Add Ons (some in the free version but a lot more in the pro version ) however, the support is happy to further help you customize the Add Ons or the plugin itself to make it work with your site. It works with Buddypress or standalone as they have their own member pages, directory and sign up form. If you have very personalized specifications, sometimes they fall out of scope of their support and you will be asked to hire one of their developers at additional cost.
Overall, I am very happy with the plugin and would recommend to try it. Of course it takes time to fully understand all features, but I found it easier to operate on the back end than some others. You can get it here.
Flyzoo Chat ($-$$)
Flyzoo is a chat plugin which works with Buddypress but it also works as a standalone and other platforms like Squarespace – you can see the full list on their site. Again, I have tried other chat plugins that were more integrated with Buddypress however, this one seemed more stable and had the basic features I needed.
The plugin comes in few packages depending on the size of your site. You can customize the colors both on the front end and via css. The plugin offers you private chats, group chats, moderation, you can view and block or assign user roles if you have moderators etc. It’s not a perfect plugin, I am waiting on roll out of some other features such as notification when someone enters group chat or sends you a message within group chat. But otherwise it’s a solid plugin that always works.
You can get it from here with a free trial.
Cleantalk is a great anti-spam plugin which I have been using for a long while. It really does block out 99% of the spam trying to enter your registrations or comments. You can also report spam or manually create Blacklist or Whitelist of users. For most part the plugin does the job of blocking any unsavory sign ups/comments however there are some additional features you can pay extra for – such as customized message that spammers or your personal Blacklisters see. However, they offer discounts if you renew early or share on facebook. They also offer other services like SSL or Site Security which I have not used.
The support is great and responds promptly on most ocassions. I have nothing but good things to say about this plugin. I get tons of spammers daily trying to reach my site and it works very well for me. You can get it with free trial here.
If you don’t want your members to know to know when you, an admin are online, this is a good plugin for you. It allows you to turn on/off the Stealth feature and you will not show up in search, directory or in the online members widget. However, if you make any posts on the Activity wall, your posts will not display while in Stealth. So if you post frequently, this feature will not be useful. You can get the plugin here. You will need to renew after a year to get upgrades (not required).
BP Maps for Members ($$)
I came across this plugin while searching for a map feature to help my potential members view where everyone else was. It requires that you also have BP Profile Location plugin, which is free. The map is useful if your members enter some kind of location. Whether it’s just a city or a specific address.
Further more, you need to have a Google Cloud account to obtain Google Maps API key. I should add, that officially, Google Maps API is not free anymore. It is free up to certain amount of searches however, if you have a truly high traffic site, you might have to pay after hitting certain numbers. So please read the Google Maps and Places info to understand where you fall. If you have a “relatively” low traffic site, you will be ok and will not have to pay. There are ways to set treshold where you will be notified of reaching certain traffic in Google Maps.
The intial cost for the plugin is currently $36 but this is for a yearly license. If you want to keep getting updates, you will need to pay each year. You can get it here.
BuddyBoss Media ($$)
BuddyBoss Media allows your members to upload photos to their profiles. A lot of themes and a lot of other blogs tout RT Media as the plugin to use however personally I always had issues with that plugin. Whether it doesn’t work with some of my other plugins, something always seem to break after an update. I am not saying it’s not a great plugin but after trying BuddyBoss Media, my issues have stopped.
This plugin allows members to upload photos to their profiles, they can be either shown as feed or as avatar sized images. They will also be shown in the site Activity feed and other members can like the photos. BuddyBoss is a very well maintained plugin developer so you can count on any issues being resolved quickly. I am happy that I switched to this plugin. You can get it here and the license and updates are valid for 1 year.
Zotabox is a great plugin which has tons of features such as pop ups, top bars, push notifications, social widgets, Facebook live chat and testimonials to name a few. I have signed up for a trial period and was hooked. It makes it really easy to run timed discount offers, make announcements to your members, social sharing and so much more.
The plugin is not specifically designed for Buddypress but rather WordPress and other platforms like Squarespace or Shopify however it’s very useful for a premium membership community. The nice thing about the plugin is that you can specify who sees the pop ups, new or all visitors, which screens, countries, which pages to show on, and when to start and stop running the popups or banners. All in all, it’s a very useful tool. The support is very helpful and quick. You can get it here with a free trial.
If your theme for whatever reason does not come with an advanced search feature, then you need to get this plugin. In essence it allows you to create a completely custom search form with as many fields as you wish, based on x profile fields member entered on sign up (or later). I suggest making many fields required on sign up to allow for many search combinations as users might not enter the fields later on. The form allows to have a collapsed or expanded format and is inserted into the directory in settings and you can additionally add it to other pages via shortcode. You can style your search form in css. You can get it here as well as a companion plugin BP Distance Search which will also require Google Cloud account.
This plugin is especially useful for a dating community as it prevents members from using the site until they upload a photo. Upon registration, new members will be taken to a new page in their profile and forced to upload a photo to continue any further. You can get the free plugin here.
Buddyblock is again a great feature for a dating site but can also be appropriate for other member sites. Its main feature is to individually block a member who might be “not getting a message” and keeps trying to send unwelcome messages. After being blocked, that person can no longer see or contact the person who blocked them.
The plugin also allows to block an entire group of members by using Member Types (another plugin is required), so for example, a female member might want to block other females from seeing her. Or can temporarily block all males from seeing her, if she wants to take a break from dating. It requires that each female or male member is assigned a Member Type on sign up or later. A member can see and adjust all the people they blocked in their Profile settings. You can get more information and get the free plugin here.
This plugin is no longer supported by the developer however it works perfectly fine. It does what it says, a member can see who visited their profile. You can set the plugin to show however many members you want – let’s say last 10 members who visited the profile. The plugin has a shortcode which you can insert into a page or as a widget and is customizable via css. There is a filter which can exclude certain users from being tracked (admin) which is specified in plugin’s FAQs page. You can get it here.
Another useful plugin from Buddydev which allows a member to add a little note when they send a friendship request. It creates a pop up and a member can enter a short message before they hit send. You can get it here.
This is a nice little plugin to provide an extra functionality to Buddypress Activity wall. The regular wall comes only with a Comment or Delete function however, this plugin also adds a Like (or Unlike) button. You can decide on the look and specs of the button in Settings. It also adds other features such as Like button to BBPress posts and to blog posts. The plugin comes in Free or Premium version. It also comes with a statistics section so you can be aware of how active your members are with the their likes. You can get it here.
I find this to be useful as sometimes members sign up using their email address as username or some other username they might later regret. This allows them to change their username to something nicer or shorter in their profile settings. You can get it here.
This list is not compiling all the WordPress dating site plugins out there however, the ones I have tried and recommend. I will be adding more to this list if I discover any new plugins that are worth trying. Feel free to make suggestions in the comments.