If you want to build a strong user base, you’ll need to find ways to make your content engaging and valuable. Forums are a low-effort solution, but you’ll need a plugin to add one to your WordPress site.
Fortunately, there are several options to choose from. By taking into consideration your budget and the needs of your users, you can easily get your message boards up and running in no time.
In this post, we’ll talk about some of the ways having a forum on your WordPress site can benefit you. Then we’ll share five forum plugins you might consider for your website. Let’s get to it!
Why You May Want to Add a Forum to Your WordPress Site
While they’re most often associated with social sites such as Reddit and Twitch, forums can be quite useful on a wide variety of platforms. Giving users a place where they can share their thoughts and opinions is a simple way to increase engagement while also generating content future visitors may find valuable.
Additionally, forums help build a sense of community among your users. This can, in turn, boost brand loyalty. Customers tend to be more willing to pay higher prices for products offered by their preferred brands. They may also promote your products and services through word of mouth, leading to more sales.
Finally, you can implement forums as a self-serve support option for users who run into problems with your products or services. Consider the WordPress support forums, for example:
Enabling your customers to help one another when issues arise takes some of the work off your plate while also providing them with fast, easy-to-understand solutions. This will give you more time to focus on your other responsibilities as well.
5 of the Very Best WordPress Forum Plugins
While WordPress doesn’t enable you to create forums out-of-the-box, you can easily launch your first message board with a plugin. Below are five of the top tools available to get the job done.
This premium plugin has all the bells and whistles you need to create a forum that is both functional and visually appealing. ForumWP is easy to set up and built to be lightweight so you don’t have to worry about performance issues. Additional features include:
- A mobile responsive design so users can post on-the-go
- Theme integration for seamless inclusion in your brand
- Email notifications for both you and your users
- Simple moderation functionality from the front and back ends
ForumWP is best for established brands that want to add another layer of engagement to their site. It can also be helpful to those who want their message boards to match their site’s design but don’t have much coding knowledge. Pricing starts at $99 per year.
bbPress is hands down the most popular WordPress forum plugin. Its simple installation and intuitive interface make it easy for even the most novice site managers to pick it up and run with it. However, there are also several features more advanced users can appreciate, including:
- A huge library of more than 200 plugin extensions
- Built-in Akismet spam protection
- Theme compatibility for smooth integration with any site
- Multisite functionality for use across WordPress networks
Another nice touch is that this plugin is free – period. In keeping with WordPress’ mission of making content publishing accessible to all, bbPress and its extensions are all available at no cost to you in the WordPress Plugin Directory.
Providing a nice middle ground between the first two options, wpForo balances cost, features, and customization options. With an emphasis on mobile responsiveness and performance, this is a platform that can grow with you as your forums expand. Other highlights include:
- Four layout options and six color choices for simple customization
- Built-in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), caching, and Akismet spam protection
- A profile system that enables users to build their identities on your site
- Integration with popular membership plugins including Ultimate Member and BuddyPress
You can start using wpForo right away for free. However, if you want to tap into any of this plugin’s extensions, you’ll need to invest a little money into your forums. Add-ons range from $11 to $125 per year.
In this day and age, people from across the globe can easily connect over the internet. If you’re hoping to build a forum that can accommodate your international audience, Asgaros Forum may be the best fit for you. It’s multilingual, multisite compatible, and was created with large communities in mind.
This plugin also includes:
- Moderators, permissions settings, and usergroups to help keep your forums secure
- Polls and reactions to provide users with more opportunities for engagement
- A customizable and responsive theme
- Notifications for you and users regarding the latest posts
Asgaros Forum is free to use and has no official add-ons.
Discussion Board takes user management seriously. If you want to maintain control over who can post in what forums, this plugin will put the power in your hands. It also encourages conversions by prompting users to register before posting. Key features include:
- A complete front end registration and login system
- Spam reduction via posting limits and user blocking
- Control over your forums’ style with templates and the Customizer
- The option to specify who can view and post to boards based on user roles
Additionally, this plugin has its own corresponding WordPress theme. Although Discussion Board integrates with most themes, Singularity was built to integrate seamlessly with it for cohesive appearance and functionality. The theme is free, too.
All of the features listed above are available at no cost as well, but there is a premium version of the plugin. It includes advanced features such as user profiles, board permissions, topic subscriptions, and more. Licenses start at $49 per year.
Engagement is key to building a following for your website and your brand. Forums enable your users to interact with each other and your content in meaningful ways, and require minimal effort and attention from you.
We’ve compiled a list of five of the best WordPress forum plugins you can use to improve your site:
- ForumWP: Best for established brands and the design-conscious.
- bbPress: Ideal for WordPress beginners and those on a tight budget.
- wpForo: Useful for membership sites and newer brands who hope to expand their forums down the line.
- Asgaros Forum: Designed for large, international online communities.
- Discussion Board: Provides user management features ideal for educational sites, job boards, and support forums.
Do you have any questions about choosing a WordPress forum plugin? Let us know in the comments section below!
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