The Internet is being spluttered with tons of websites every day.
Do you offer tips on gardening? Or sell some tutorial?
Your content is fine, but you need a community to stay hold to it.
People simply won’t stay on your website after you slip off from their minds.
Keeping the site users and readers is pretty hard, let alone monetize it.
But there’s an effective solution to it.
A tool that will help users coming for more and increase the user interaction and retention.
After that, you can even start selling products and make a good amount of money.
I’m talking about building a forum. And one can easily build a forum on WordPress through plugins.
The Internet is the center of all social activity.
Plus, with the integration of social media into everything remotely related to the Internet, businesses realize the importance of communicating with the readers.
Forums have been there from the very inception of Internet and are a great medium for getting people talk and hanging around for long periods of time.
Although there are lots of forum plugins to choose from, sorting the best WordPress forum plugins is pretty hard.
Let us help you with that.
Before we move on to forum plugins, let’s first have a talk about what forums are for and the benefits of having one.
What are Forums Used For?
There must be some sort of hobby that despite being non-mainstream you love it—like coin collecting. Or, maybe about on scrapbooking for which you might have gone on to other forums.
In fact, various micro-niches and forums are catering to those exact needs. You will find a forum on your favorite celebrity, fictional character or a show.
You can make a forum on literally any subject and expect people to come on to your forum. Being like-minded, you may find selling products easily.
Often, you must have pondered around the internet looking for solutions to your hardware and software issue of your phone. Directly or not, you might just end up in a forum.
Thus displaying another great example of the forum. Moreover, with technical forums, you get a more realistic view on solutions than what jargon-filled phone manual provides.
Also, it serves as a place to ask new questions, collaborates with other and gets clarification of complex topics. You give a chance to yourself to see it from a different point-of-view.
It comes to gaming as well. RPG stands for Role-Playing-Game and serves a huge audience online. Games such as World of Warcraft has a very big audience and a forum of that magnitude as well.
Even apart from RPGs, you will find that games such as Clash of Clans have its own official and unofficial forums as well.
If you are into the business of teaching and selling services, it is essential to have constant communication with your students.
Teachers outside of formal education sector can benefit greatly through forums. It acts as a substitute for the classroom where your students can ask you queries and doubts.
Yes, there’s actual forums dedicated to selling products.
If you are selling products and services, it’s better to have a place where your audience can talk within themselves. It acts a convenient place for your support.
You can even create sub-forums for each specific product and initiate a support sub-forum where customers can post their questions.
You create your very micro-social network fixed on mostly a topic or two, those same people have interests in.
Why You Need a Forum?
Easy to Use
Most of the forum services are plugin based. In cases where they are not, a simple bit of code insertion would do the job. In which case you mostly have to do copy and paste. There’s no coding here.
For configuration, you have a visual editor which is pretty enough to get all the things done. Deciding color scheme, header, forum names and descriptions, there isn’t much to do before you launch your forum.
Can be Easily Monetized
Forums are primarily for discussion and attract a good amount of traffic. You can use it through banner ads.
Usually, users complain about ads taking up much of the space, but users would sympathize with you considering that some money is required to run a forum.
Else, you can directly input the code from Google Adsense to your homepage and wait for your users to get clicks.
There’s another different option as well! Once your forum takes off, you can even ask for donation request. Most forums have a side-banner for donation.
And, most users would be happy to donate to if your forum has helped them solve their queries and doubts.
Get Instant Feedback
As an administrator of the website, it’s very important to get your reader’s view on the website. And, forums provide that exact solution.
It’s completely hassle-free. You wouldn’t want your readers to fill up a form to let you know about the shortcomings. Half of them will not be interested, and the rest half would find the entire process cumbersome.
While on forums, you can easily get a response in a matter of hours. Especially from a bunch of them regarding updates and changes.
You can implement these changes immediately thus consolidating the users into your fan base. This makes the users feel special, and the retention rate just goes up!
Search Engine Optimization
One of the lesser known aspects of a forum is how it helps in SEO.
Every time a user creates a new post, search engines treat it as a new page of content from the forum. Most of the queries being technical and long in nature can act as long-tail keywords which do more good to you than any harm.
In fact, in recent research, it has been found out that—50-70% searches return no exact keyword match and 15-20% of them are relatively new. So the more content on your forum the more are your chances of some keyword hitting gold!
So now that we know, all the benefits let’s move on to the countdown of plugins!
Best WordPress Forum Plugins
Touted as one of the most recommended plugins for forums.
While there were a various number of WordPress forum plugins, but bbPress almost single-handedly pushed out the competition.
Once installed, the plugin directly adds the option to control the forum from your Dashboard.
Moreover, it gets fully integrated with the website so that you along with the readers don’t feel section of the website left out.
You can easily manage the forum topics and comments as you do with the other WordPress posts.
It offers several widgets to increase the functionality of the forum.
Users can subscribe to the forum, specific topics, and even comments.
You can even give editor rights to users so they can moderate the forum on your own behalf. On another hand forum plugins are often clunky and slow thus making user-experience bit poor.
Nevertheless, bbPress is light-weight, offers support in 11 languages and the best part–you can import forum data from any other plugin directly to BB or vice versa.
So you don’t have to stick with one of them forever.
- Integrates with almost every WordPress theme without any problems.
- Almost 100+ plugins to tweak it according to your needs.
- Lightweight and fast
- Not much feature rich compared to full-fledged CMS like vbulletin.
Download! (Price: Free)
You must have come across this name before as it’s officially crafted by the WordPress team. Being officially from WordPress, it is both clean and secure in nature.
It is rich in features and brings social network features to your website without installing dozens of plugins.
Visitors can make their own profiles and form groups to further communicate with other members. They can also monitor each other activities and talk in private as well. Further consolidating as a pseudo-social network website. It gives extended support to your readers.
As an administrator, you have lots of option at your disposal. You can manage account settings, optimize your notifications and create custom profile fields. With the help of private messaging, you can even talk with multiple users in private (at the same time).
You can even give users the ability to create micro-communities and manage other activities–basically exporting some of your work.
Moreover, with the help of 3rd party add-ons, you can increase the forum’s functionality further.
- Can create activity streams, user profiles, and groups, etc.
- Plenty of add-ons to increase functionality.
- Not well documented to get help.
- Transferring a BuddySite to a different site can be daunting.
Download! (Price: Free)
3. DW Question & Answer
Unlike the others up in the list, DW Question & Answer is simpler to use. It helps you create a question and answer site in WordPress efficiently.
It’s approach its bit different from the others as well.
The plugin can serve as a great support forum for your readers, can act as a great place for FAQs and section where site’s users can pose questions to one another and answer directly.
The plugin supports over 11 languages. You can tag question and categorize them. Users can also upvote and downvote the answers to increase user participation. It also has captcha included to minimize spam.
Other unique features being able to answer privately, the ability to follow certain questions as well as sticking some questions as important.
- Can be used as a support forum.
- Users can vote comments.
- Captcha support to tackle spam.
- Forum is limited to Question & Answer format.
Download! (Price: Free)
4. WP Symposium Pro
Even though it was built as a social network plugin, you can use WP Symposium fairly well as a forum-building plugin. It follows a freemium model–and it is packed with abundant of features.
The free version has a promising number of features in it. You can add a forum to your website through a shortcode. You can create multiple forums at the same time where you can restrict user access based on user role.
It includes all the standard features–subscribe to forums, set sticky and favorite posts, vote the posts and so on. What sets it apart is that the forum has a pop-up menu which helps you to search, view your latest activities and your favorites.
It is also packed with widgets to further simplify the workings of the forum.
As it’s based on the freemium model, a premium version is indeed available–though it caters more to the need of a social networking website than to a forum.
- Integration with Facebook
- Includes features such as gallery and events
- Many essential features require bronze membership
Download! (Price: Free)
5. CM Answers
CM Answers is based upon Stack Overflow discussion board providing a sleek and fast question and answer system.
Users can ask questions and others can respond them. Moreover, other users can then rate the quality of the answers to improve over all accuracy of the answers.
Just like WP Symposium, CM Answers follows a freemium model.
Although the free version does provide the basic features, it lacks a large part of potential that other plugins offer.
The premium version offers various widgets and customization options. You can add attachments to questions and answers, social media sharing options, a text-editor, customize permalinks.
The premium version costs $29 and also offers you various other moderation tools and multi-site support as well.
- Integrates easily with most themes
- Premium version offers you to choose the best answer, profiles, comments, etc.
- Most useful features are available in the premium version
- Forum gets limited to Q&A format.
Download! (Price: Free)
When it comes to the larger picture, bbPress trumps over every other plugin out there. It’s coding standards are on par with the coding standards of WordPress.
Its only limitation is that it is not a full-fledged forum builder like vbulletin, otherwise, it’s packed with almost all the necessary utilities. Not to forget that you can literally add more than 100+ add-ons to enhance the usability of the forum.
Moreover, it does not carry extra useless bloat which makes it amazingly fast to use powered by WordPress core.
Do let us know if you have any queries and we would be back to you as soon as possible.