Creating an alternative to BuddyPress

BuddyPress Alternative | WordPress Plugin | Ultimate Member

If you’ve ever worked with BuddyPress and have found it to not match your needs and are looking for an alternative then Ultimate Member may just be the plugin for you.

A little background

I first stumbled into WordPress whilst attempting to create a professional jobs site for graduates.

When it came to building the site the main things I was looking for was the ability for graduates to create a profile and upload a resume and for employers to be able to search for graduates and privately message graduates they were interested in talking to.

So after setting up hosting and selecting a theme I then started looking for plugins that would enable me to create my site.

This is when I came across BuddyPress and all of the BuddyPress related plugins which added functionality to BuddyPress.

Great I thought! I would be able to use BuddyPress, a few other BuddyPress plugins and WP Job Manager and my site would have all the functionality it needed.

How wrong I was!

The reality quickly turned out to be quite a bit different and as a typical WordPress user I found working with BuddyPress for my site to be more than a little bit challenging.

I’m not bashing BuddyPress or saying it is a bad plugin but rather it was simply not the right plugin to use in the first place.

That’s because I wasn’t trying to create a social network site. I only wanted to use certain aspects of the plugin.

Ultimately I felt like I was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole and gave up with BuddyPress and began looking for an alternative plugin to BuddyPress.

I tried out a few other free and premium plugins but my experiences with them was not particularly great either which is part of the reason the idea for Ultimate Member was born.

BuddyPress Alternative

When we started out with Ultimate Member the vision was to create a plugin that would be a cross between BuddyPress and more traditional membership plugins.

Or put differently a membership plugin which focuses heavily on the front-end experience for end users whilst at the same time making it extremely easy for WordPress users to use.

The plugin is perfect for anyone who has tried to use BuddyPress but has found it to be more than they need.

Because in all honesty how many people are really trying to create a full-blown social network?

Rather I believe that people are trying their best to work with BuddyPress due to a lack of a viable alternative.

Well I hope that this is no longer the case with the approach we’ve taken with Ultimate Member.

We’ve created a core plugin packed full of flexibility which will enable you to create a wide variety of sites where users sign up from the front-end but kept it lean and not overloaded with features that not everyone needs.

This is where our extensions come into play. With our extensions people can purchase only the features and functionality they need allowing them to create their site just the way they want.

For example our latest extension: followers allows users to follow one another. However, many people do not need this functionality on their site so by having it as an extension only the people who want this functionality on their site can have it.

At the moment Ultimate Member is not a direct alternative to BuddyPress. Ultimate Member does not currently offer every feature found in BuddyPress.

This is mostly to do with the fact our plugin was only launched at the end of January and we have not yet built all of our extensions.

So whilst we may not be a direct alternative to BuddyPress at the moment, in the future you will see this change and you will be able do most of what you can do with BuddyPress by using Ultimate Member and our extensions.

Calum Allison

Founder of Ultimate Member - a free online community & user profile plugin for WordPress.


  1. Charles Como on 28th April 2015 at 4:22 pm

    I tried to use Buddypress myself, spent a good year trying to make it user friendly and after spending so much time on that, I finally gave up! (I’m serious when I say I put a good year into it!)

    I then tried a couple other pseudo-social network type plugins, but once I found yours I was SOLD.

    1: Because the code was so clean! Not full of typos in the css, and the code like the others

    2: Because it’s SO easy for the users to use it.

    3: Because you guys are so fantastic with the updates, customer support, and new features! (I, of course, purchased the Extensions Bundle, since every new feature is worth getting and the purchase price for the bundle is well worth the price, especially since they all work very well right out of the box!)

    So.. THANK YOU for creating this, I look forward to a long and fruitful relationship together moving forward!

    Great job Calum (et al)!

    disclaimer: You’d think with my glaringly positive comment here that I must work with the company somehow, or have some kind of relationship with Ultimate Member, but I don’t.. I’m just a very pleased developer that is happy when I find great code and great coders! It makes my life SO much easier as a result!

    • Calum Allison on 28th April 2015 at 5:21 pm

      Thanks Charles, Appreciate the kind words!

  2. Jannik Laursen on 28th April 2015 at 6:23 pm

    I wouldn’t say BuddyPress is more than what most people need, on the contrary, I think it lacks a lot. I believe many people want to build full blown social networks.

    If you look at the Joomla world you have EasySocial and JomSocial, two feature packed high quality well rounded Social Networking components that allow anyone to create a full blown Social Network in minutes.

    When I switched to WordPress I was shocked to see the lack of options and severe limitations of BuddyPress. I am excited to what Ultimate Member will offer in the future.

    But I do think you guys need to prioritize releasing a Wall/Timeline feature with a Share/Status Update box which rivals that of EasySocial and JomSocial. That is the moment when BuddyPress truly gets 100% obsolete.

    • Calum Allison on 29th April 2015 at 3:47 pm

      Have you used those Joomla addons before? If so, why you made the switch from the them to WordPress.

      Yes for sure many people want to create nice social networks. What I was getting at is that there are many people who aren’t but still want front-end user features. E.g creating a dating site or a jobs site etc.

    • Jannik Laursen on 29th April 2015 at 7:05 pm

      I have been a Joomla user since Mambo. I have used all Social Networking plugins on Joomla, JomSocial, EasySocial and Community Member. JomSocial and EasySocial are both amazing, Community Member sucks and is like BuddyPress. My favorite is definitely EasySocial, but JomSocial has been around longer. Seriously, give them both a try, and spend some time looking at the quality and features. As well as quality of forum support over at Stackideas. They are a model company, best support I have ever experienced by any extension developer. I can tell that quality of product and support is something you value, so it might be interesting market research for you.

      The only reason why I made the switch was because I was tired of certain limitations with Joomla in regards to content, I like the standardized post type WordPress offers, which allows for similar styling for many different plugins, I can use a Masonry Grid for both blogs and jreviews listings. In Joomla I felt there was a slight lack on consistency in that area. Each Component had it’s own styling.

      But in terms of Social Networking Joomla is years and years ahead of any WordPress offering… and that is the one area where I am very disappointed with WordPress.

      I have been trying to convince the guys at Stackideas to release EasySocial for WordPress and it looks like it will happen, but while I wait what I am seeing here at UltimateMember has me intrigued.

      I like the quality of what you do, I just hope that the features needed to rival EasySocial and JomSocial will come in the near future. Because your modular approach might be the one area where you have EasySocial and JomSocial beat, and with enough extensions available, your Ultimate Member could give those EasySocial and JomSocial some great competition.

      In terms of full blown social network vs front end social networking features, all I am saying is, there is huge demand and a great void in the market. A void you could fill. Don’t neglect the people who want to build full blown social networks, because there are lots of us, and many of us have been stuck on Joomla for many years, because of the lack of options on WordPress. Many would switch from Joomla to WordPress if there was a viable alternative to EasySocial or JomSocial.

      Anyway, best of luck. I am rooting for you guys, and will be actively involved in the forums and look forward to seeing the growth and maturity of your product line, as well as company.

  3. Frank Senftleben on 21st June 2015 at 3:05 pm

    Hi from Germany !
    YES – that´s what i need and i looking for since a long time ( round about 6 Years)

    I try to make some different Communitys , build with buddypress and at last with another software like drupal etc.

    Now, i found ULTIMATE MEMBER, bought some AddOns and i say: YES GUYS !

    Please don´t wait to make more Extensions !

    Would be nice to have

    1. Search Members with more the one search-field

    2. Photo-Gallery for Members

    Thank you !

    • g t on 7th February 2017 at 4:00 pm

      Yes, the Photo Gallery is a must have!

  4. Doug Tree on 2nd October 2015 at 8:18 pm

    I just found ultimatemember after giving up on buddy press. I disagree with the others here who recommend developing a full blown social networking plugin. I think you will have much more success if you stick with developing extensions for niche two sided marketplaces. There are so many local industries that lack good networks. Extensions like: attachments in messages, affiliates, pay per lead/customer, reporting, graphs and charts, custom review categories, benchmarks and milestones, proposals, requirements, etc. would benefit many industries where someone needs a service and service providers can communicate privately with potential clients/customers and those customers can award the business to the service provider of their choice.

    One of hundreds of examples I could think of could be for wedding planners. Mary just got engaged and stumbles upon built with UM. She found the site from a local news article about how to hire the best wedding planner in Chicago. Mary looks at lots of wedding company profiles from cakes to dresses to photography to catering. Mary creates a private user profile and she follows and messages a handful of local business. She awards business to a couple providers. She continues to use to communicate and plan the wedding. Mary uses the milestone extension to set dates to make sure her dress is finished before the big day. Everyone is happy. White Closet gets a rave review. They pay a 20% refferal/finders fee to of which 20% goes to the local news website who signed up as an affiliate through the UM affiliate extension. Soon everyone uses the UM powered wedding site and the owner of the site quits his full time job and renews his bundled extension subscription and pays $1000 a month for premium support because he can afford it.

    The same could work for hiring a contractor, attorney, print shop, or any other contract work.

    The opportunities are endless and I think if Ultimate Member builds extensions for two-sided networks, you would have a lot more sales and a lot of success stories.

    I love UM and I can see a big future if you listen to me that is 😉

    Thank you for an easy, beautiful and powerful piece of software.

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