This forum, community, peer-to-peer review or whatever else you want to call it helps people to socialize with similar interests, share information and help each other to achieve certain objectives. In this guide, we will see how you can add a forum functionality to your WordPress website. This can help you get enhanced level of interactions, higher traffic, and better bounce rate.
How does a Forum help in community building?
A forum helps people to share ideas, thoughts, data, and suggestions about a particular topic or product. Although it takes some time to populate your forum with great content, it is one of the most genuine ways to create high-quality content.
Also, a forum helps users to connect better with you- in the form of customer support. Instead of replying to emails, you can answer user queries through a forum.
Forum also helps users solve each other’s problems. Before someone thinks about writing to you, they will surely read the comments in the forum which will help them to clear their doubts. So, from a customer support perspective, it reduces your workload too.
For reviews sites like web hosting reviews or tech gadget reviews, a forum can also help you catch generally skeptical visitors. If they don’t like your review, they will read other users’ reviews.
Expectation from a WordPress Forum Plugin
A WordPress forum plugin needs to be optimized for increased social interactions. It must be easy to integrate with your current WordPress theme without too many technical modifications. It must also load fast – the last thing your visitors want is a slow website.
Categories and tags make it very easy for Google bots to index your content. The inclusion of categories and tags in a forum plugin will provide additional SEO benefit because your users would be creating a lot of valuable content.
Forums often tend to see heightened spam; several users will create fake accounts to promote other brands or post totally irrelevant content like gambling or adult industry links. So, your forum plugin should provide spam control within its main plugin or at least have an extension for the same.
List of 10 best WordPress forum plugins
We have seen how a forum plugin can help get users to stay on your website, instead of just visiting it once and forgetting about it. Currently, there are a lot of free and paid WordPress forum plugins available for your sites, here, we round up the 10 best ones that we have used.
bbPress is One of the most famous and extensively-used WordPress forum plugins. It has been developed by the same developers who made WordPress. This also means that it works flawlessly with other WordPress products that follow the WordPress standard guidelines.BB Press has been developed basically for discussion forums, and this may not be enough for many websites.
- Lightweight, simple design, user-friendly interface
- Availability in around 11 languages and counting
- Easily integrates with any WordPress theme without any modifications
- You have an option to choose from about 190 additional extensions/plugins for bbPress which let you add whatever you like to enhance the Plugin or its features.
Similar to bbPress, BuddyPress is also an official WordPress plugin. It is extensively used by schools and companies to keep people in the loop for events and discussions. However, it can be challenging to move a BuddyPress website to another platform. Getting help for this plugin can be difficult as it isn’t well documented the way WordPress and other Plugins are.
- Users can create usernames, profiles, post messages and manage groups in a typical forum-like format
- With easy integration and plenty of extensions and plugins, you can rely on BuddyPress for a true MySpace like Forum environment.
3. WP Symposium Pro
WP Symposium Procedure is a WordPress forum plugin that has many social networking features like having a profile, messaging friends, sending limited emails and so on along with it. This makes it ideal for school websites, dating sites, gaming sites and others.
With WP Symposium Procedure you get features like
- Member Directory
- Private Mail.
4. CM Answers
Do you have a website where users can interact through Q&A sessions? CM Answers fits the bill correctly. It has free and procedure versions which allow you to receive questions, publish questions and answers for your users. However, this plugin is restricted to Q&A features.
- It integrates seamlessly with other WordPress themes
- Users can post any kind of questions and answers
- The Procedure (Premium) version has more options like having the ability to choose the best answer, comments, profiles, social media login etc.
5. Simple Press
SimplePress lets you run all the features of a forum without you having to burn a big hole in your pocket. You get features that you might want by default like unread post handling at a user level, user signatures, avatar uploads, spoiler tags etc. If you need an all-rounder plugin, Simple Press is your best friend.
- This is a well-documented forum which lets even people who are even new to blogging to have a full-fledged forum infrastructure through this plugin
- It also has extendable architecture for the plugin where you can extend the services of the plugin
6. WP Foro
At first glance, WP Foro looks remarkably similar to bbPress. However, the similarities end there as it has 3 distinct layouts-Extended Layout, simplified layout and Q&A Layout. All of these have various characteristics and if you need advanced features you need to pay up. However, this plugin is a tad bit complicated to operate- though you do not need to know the code, you do have to know how to handle the back end. This forum plugin isn’t aimed at beginners.
- Customizable layouts like small bulletin boards, large bulletin boards, question-answer layouts etc.
- You can migrate your current forum to WP Foro
- Support drag and drop editor for every section of your website.
7. Discussion Board
Discussion Board is a useful WordPress forum plugin as it automatically creates pages and inserts shortcodes when this plugin is activated. You can cut down on spam as new users are required to login after using a link from their email. Furthermore, in the registration form, you can use anti-spam fields to cut down further on spam. Besides all this, you can manage your users and give them access to various roles within the website plugin accordingly.
- Easy to set up
- You can manage the users and assign them roles and responsibilities according to your requirements. This can be done at the registration stage.
- Discussion Board brings with it a front-end user registration and login functionality.
8. Asgaros Forum
The Asgaros Forum is easy to set up – all you need to do is create a new page, add a shortcode and you’ll have a forum running in minutes. Once done, you have a host of features which you get for free-from managing posts, guest postings and topics to creating user groups and sub-forums. You can also ensure that the forum is searchable online.
- Supports WordPress shortcodes through which you can create a forum on any page that you like
- It can be managed directly from the WordPress dashboard
- It is developer friendly as it supports many filters and hooks.
9. WP Pro Forum System
The WP Procedure Forum System is a premium WordPress plugin that lets you get all the not only all the basic forum functionalities like image support, code support, but also advanced features like customizable styles, customizable permalinks, and others within a single upfront payment. You need not make any other payment for anything else with WP Procedure Forum System.
- Minimalistic interface and front end
- Easy integration of your forum to your theme
- You can upload images from the front end.
Phew! That was a long list. I am sure now, that you may have made a decision on the best forum plugin for your website. There are many options available; you just need to ensure that your requirement fits with what is available. We would love to hear from you about your experiences with WordPress Forum plugins.
Author Bio: Catherrine Garcia is an experienced web developer, currently working as a freelance web developer at WPCodingDev. She enjoys her writing and always on the lookout for high quality blogs.