How to Manage and Add Features to Your BuddyPress-Powered Staff Intranet

How to Manage and Add Features to Your BuddyPress-Powered Staff Intranet

Recently, I showed you how to create a staff intranet using the BuddyPress social networking plugin. The tutorial walked you through setting everything up, but your intranet won’t be a truly useful tool unless you populate it and manage it. So that’s what we’re going to cover today.

In this post, I’ll follow on from getting your intranet set up and show you how to add users and groups to it, as well as adding extra functionality in the form of events and document upload.

I’ll cover:

  • Adding users
  • Creating groups
  • Adding events functionality for your users
  • Creating a space where your groups can upload and share documents
  • Creating site-wide notices.

If you followed along with my previous post you’ll have a working intranet but it’ll be pretty empty:

BuddyPress activity page

In this post, we’ll populate it and make it ready for the hard work of supporting youorganizationon’s staff. So let’s start by creating some users.

Adding Users

For a staff intranet it’s likely that you’ll be adding users manually instead of expecting users to register. Doing this is as simple as creating users for your WordPress site.

Go to Users > Add New and add each user as a subscriber to your site. You can choose whether or not to send them an email with a signup link: I’d recommend it, as it brings their attention to the intranet.

Adding a user in WordPress

Work through this process for each of your users in turn. If you’ve got a lot of users you can speed things up by importing their details from a CSV file. Install the WP Ultimate CSV Importer plugin and then import your users from a CSV file.

You’ll need to set your CSV file up correctly with the required user data: username, email, and other fields you want to import.

I’ve used the BuddyPress Default Data plugin to automatically create some users for my intranet. It’s looking a little more healthy now:

The BuddyPress activity page

So now you have your users set up. Let’s create some groups for them.

Adding Groups

Groups will be the lifeblood of your intranet – they’ll support team activity and help people find exactly what they need on a day to day basis. As well as creating groups for formal teams you could also create groups for project teams and for clubs and societies in your organisation.

These groups can then use the intranet to communicate amongst themselves, share ideas, files and progress, and create events for the group.

You create groups via the Groups page in the front end of your intranet.

Depending on how you’ve configured BuddyPress, it’ll be possible just for the administrator to create groups, or any user will be able to create a group. It depends on how closely you want to manage this process.

Go to the Groups page in your intranet, to see a list of current groups. This will currently be empty. To add a new group, click the Create a Group link, to be taken to the first stage of creating a group:

creating a group in BuddyPress

First you’ll need to enter the group’s details. Give the group a name and description, then click Create Group and Continue.

This takes you to the group settings screen:

The BuddyPress group settings screen

You’ll need to choose what privacy level the group has, from one of three options: public, private and hidden. It’s likely that you’ll use private for most of the teams in your organisation, as they might not want other teams seeing what they post. But some groups (such as social groups or clubs) might be public.

You’ll then need to specify who can invite other members to the group – all group members, the group admins and moderators or just group admins. For each group you can assign one or more administrators and moderators and it makes sense to give them this role.

Once you’ve done that, click the Next Step button to continue to the Photo tab:

Uploading a photo for a BuddyPress group

Here you can upload the team’s logo or another image that represents the team. Try and find a photo that fits nicely in the circular format BuddyPress gives you.

Click the Next Step button to continue to the Cover Image tab. Here’s where you can upload a larger image of the team itself.

Once you’ve done that, click Next Step again and finish off by inviting people to the group.

You could either invite all members or just invite and create a group admin and get them to do it, which may work best of yours is a large organisation.

Note: in order to invite people to a group you’ll need to be friends with them, so make sure you’re friends with all the group admins before starting. You can always invite them later if you haven’t done this yet, and once you’re done, you can unfriend them (if you dare).

Finally click Finish to create your group.

You’ll be able to see your new group in the front end of your site:

a BuddyPress group screen

You can manage the group from this page:

  • To invite new members, click on the Invite link
  • To edit settings, click on Manage and then Settings
  • To change the images, click Manage and then Photo or Cover Image.

Now repeat this process, creating extra groups and inviting members to them. I’ve used the default data plugin again to add more groups to my site:

My Groups tab in BuddyPress

As you can see from the screenshot, there are two groups screens available to you: Groups and My Groups. Groups lets you see activity in groups you belong to plus any public groups, while My Groups just shows you the groups you’re a member of.

Adding Events Functionality

A great way to expand your intranet is by adding events to it. BuddyPress doesn’t come with event functionality out of the box, but you can add this by installing the Events Manager plugin. Install and activate this in the normal way, and an Events link will appear on the front end of your site in user profile screens and individual Groups screens:

BuddyPress group screen with Events link added

This lets users see their own events (via their profile page) and events for groups they are a member of (via the group page).

Configuring Event Creation

Before you start creating events, you’ll need to specify which user roles can add events. By default it’s just the site administrator. To change this, go to Events > Settings and click the User Capabilities tab.

Here you can check the relevant capabilities for each user role. I’m choosing to let Subscribers create, publish, edit and delete their own events. If an event is assigned to a group, the plugin will only let the group admin edit the event or link it to the group.

Editing capabilities for events

Adding Events

You add an event (either as an individual or for a group you’re a member of) in the admin screens. Go to Events > Add Event to see the screen for adding a new event:

Add new event screen

Note that to assign an event to a group, you use the Group Ownership metabox at the bottom right of the screen. You can only assign an event to a group that you’re an administrator of.

BUddyPress group ownership metabox

Add the event details, assign a date, time and place, and click Publish. Your event will appear in the group page:

An event in the BuddyPress front end

Team members can then register for the event to show that they’re attending.

Adding Document Uploads

Another useful piece of functionality is to add media upload for groups. You can do this using the MediaPress plugin. Install and activate the plugin as you normally would.

Adding a Gallery Page

The plugin will promote you to associate a page with the gallery page that the plugin sets up. You’ll need to create a Gallery page first, and then go to Settings > BuddyPress > Pages to assign your new gallery page to the gallery functionality:

Pages settings in BUddyPress

Configuring the Plugin

For an intranet, it’s useful to allow upload of documents that aren’t images or video, but that isn’t switched on by default. To correct this, go to MediaPress > Settings. Edit the settings as follows:

  • Check the Group Galleries checkbox in the Component Settings section.
  • Under Privacy Settings, select Logged in Users Only as the default, and make sure that’s checked as an option along with Group Only.
  • Under Media Type Settings, select the types of media you want to include. Make sure Documents is selected.
  • Under Storage Settings, edit the storage limits if you want to increase these.

Click Save Changes to save your settings.

Now go to the Members Gallery and Groups Gallery tabs and make sure the same media types are checked in each case.

Next you can configure the plugin to work with BuddyPress. In MediaPress > Settings click the BuddyPress tab to access the BuddyPress settings screen:

MediaPress BuddyPress settings screen

Take some time to configure the settings to suit your intranet. As the internet is only open to staff members, you’ll probably want to enable more options than the default by checking the two checkboxes for automatically publishing media to activity streams.

Uploading Media

Now when you go to your profile page or a group page in the front end of the site, you’ll be able to add documents or media by clicking Gallery and then the Create a Gallery link.

BuddyPress profile screen with galleries

Select the media type then add a title and description for the gallery. Specify who it should be visible to. Here I’m creating a gallery for my team:

Creating a gallery for a BuddyPress group

Click Create and you’ll be given the opportunity to upload as many files as you need. You can always add extra documents at a later date too.

Now the gallery will be displayed on the group page or your profile page:

BuddyPress group screen with gallery

Adding a Site-Wide Notice

Finally, I’m going to add a site-wide notice. This is a tool you can use to make a message visible to all users of your intranet – useful for company news or urgent updates. As we added the Site-wide Notices widget to our sidebar in the previous post this will show up in the sidebar for all logged in users.

To do this, go to the Messages page on the front end of your site and click Compose. Check the This is a notice to all users checkbox and compose your message:

BuddyPress site wide notice creation

Click the Send Message button and your message will appear in the sidebar (or wherever you’ve added the widget):

BuddyPress site-wide notice in sidebar

When you want to add a new one, just repeat this, and to remove a notice, go to your message screen where you can delete your own messages. Simple!

Your BuddyPress-Powered Staff Intranet is Ready to Go!

Taking some time to get your intranet set up properly will make it easier for people to use it and make it more likely that they’ll find it a useful tool. By adding features such as events and media uploads you’ll make the site even more useful as a communications tool, and by creating groups at the start you’ll help people get up and running quickly.

Enjoy your new intranet!

Have you set up a staff intranet before? What other modifications would you want to make for an intranet? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Rachel McCollin

Rachel McCollin Rachel is a freelance web designer and writer specializing in mobile and responsive WordPress development. She's the author of four WordPress books, including WordPress Pushing the Limits, published by Wiley.