BuddyPress turns WordPress into a fully featured social network to rival Facebook. It’s the foundation of over 200,000 private, niche and special interest communities.

There’s just one problem. There’s no out of the box app solution. But that should not deter community owners. There are a range of services designed to convert BuddyPress communities into apps for the iOS and Android app store. Some better than others.  

Here, we offer 5 benefits of taking a BuddyPress community to the iOS and Android app stores. 

You need to be at the centre of your member’s world. That means being an app

1: Attention

If your community isn’t at the top of a community members attention, community engagement is going to suffer.

When it comes to mobile devices, apps are at the forefront of people’s attention. In fact, consumers spend an incredible 90% of time on mobile devices using apps, with only the remaining 10% being spent in the browser.

 Where would you rather be!

2: Notifications

For social networks and online communities, keeping community members up to date with the activities that are taking place is essential. Handset notifications are a fantastic solution for keeping users engaged. A well made app should keep members up to date when:

  • Others reply to their posts
  • They get a message
  • Members post to their ‘wall’ 
  • Someone replies to a conversation they are participating in

In addition, members will often want to manage each of these on a case by case basis.

A word to the wise – BuddyPress has its own notification system built in. Your app should allow members to manage notifications across platforms. 

3: Biometric Security

Everyone is more security conscious these days. And rightfully so.  Given the wide range of personal information shared, protection of personal data should be a vital part of any social networks offer.

With an app, you have access to the embedded biometric security mechanisms that come with the handset. This means your app can require FaceID or TouchID for iPhones and Iris scan, face scan or finger print for Android.  

If your app doesn’t load quickly, you’ll have unhappy community members

4: Speed

Speed is everything. If your community runs too slowly, you’ll lose members. A great hosting solution will help. But in the mobile space, there’s more that can be done.

If your community app is well made (see below), it will be significantly faster for community members to access than going through their handsets browser. This is the result of optimised views, local caching only loading required content and an app optimised code base.

In our testing, comparing an app created using BuddyPress Native App vs the browser based equivalent site, on state of the art server hardware, app load speeds were 5x faster than the browser. Thats the difference between a successful community and one that causes frustration.  

We can’t stress how important it is to have a well made app. Some app creation services are little more than themes for your website. These solutions won’t improve the speed of anything. 

5: Native experience

A well made app offers users a refined, operating system focused user experience. Both iOS and Android have visual cues and interface elements their owners just get. Think of where menu items reside or how search boxes look. These native app users to more effectively engage and interact with apps.

These refinements are even more important with an online community, where user interaction is essential. 

There are excellent solutions and services that allow community owners to offer members a true native app experience. They deliver communities independently optimised for iOS and Android handsets. 

Be mindful though. Not all apps are created equal. Especially when it comes to WordPress and BuddyPress. Some solutions force a website into an app. The result is a poor user experience, lacking in native elements. These confuse users, offer little benefit over the browser experience and result in an app that never gets opened.

For the best experience, check out ZippApp by Zipline. It’s designed to take your BuddyPress community to the iOS and Android app store as a fully featured native app.

ZippApp is not a theme, rather a full featured software stack that translates your BuddyPress community into a true iOS and Android native app. This means you get a fast and responsive app, fully optimised for mobile handsets and tablets.