If you are thinking that a forum is a somewhat outdated form of community, I totally disagree with you. For this before explaining how to open a forum with WordPress, I would like to briefly talk about the benefits a forum could have for your business.
First, let’s clear all doubts and explain what is a forum. In its simplest form, a forum is a web platform where users can post questions or discussion points to which the community then responds.
Often, the contents of a forum are visible to all users who are registered; however, there are ways to limit its visibility to smaller groups within the forum itself.
Furthermore, in the context of a forum, administrators and moderators play a very important role (often, these two roles overlap). The administrators are the users who, as the name suggests, manage the forum. THE moderators instead it is the users who act as a “filter” on what is published, make sure that the contents are appropriate to the context and eventually remove them.
Moderating a forum is essential to maintain a good quality of the published content therefore, if you mean open a forum with WordPress, keep in mind that this activity will take time and effort.
Why open a forum with WordPress?
A forum is a very effective way of sharing information. Most of the content is user generated, which means less investment from you and your collaborators.
But what are the cases in which a forum can actually be an effective method to engage users? Given the competition that has now been created on social networks (just think of a simple Facebook group), you might think that in reality it would not make sense to open a forum with WordPress.
And instead I believe that creating a forum is useful in several cases, in particular these two:
- a forum to provide customer support;
- a forum for an extremely niche sector.
The first case is the one that is exploited by most WordPress themes and plugins, especially free ones. In fact, anyone who has a problem can describe it on the forum. Here other users or the developers themselves can give the answer to help the user. The thread will then remain available to any other customer should encounter the same problem. A lot of time saved, unlike a classic ticket system.
The second case, on the other hand, is more specific to obtain advantages from the SEO point of view. In fact, the forums, in addition to ensuring a constant flow of new content, will help you position your site for a specific topic. The questions posted probably reflect the searches made by users on search engines. This will help you rank better for keywords actually searched by users.
How to open a forum on WordPress
There are dozens of tools to open a forum on WordPress, but the best are undoubtedly bbPress and BuddyPress.
bbPress is a very popular free plugin that was created specifically for creating forums. bbPress is 100% compatible with WordPress; before installing it (like any other plugin) I suggest you check that the active theme on your site is compatible with bbPress.
Once the tool is installed, setting up and managing the forum is pretty straightforward. There are various features for role management, content moderation, etc. In this regard, I refer you to the guide dedicated to how to create a forum with bbPress.
A valid alternative to bbPress, with an undoubtedly more “social” font is BuddyPress. Also in this case we are talking about a free plugin that can be installed directly from your WordPress dashboard (and also in this case I suggest you check the compatibility of your theme).
With BuddyPress, users can create their own profile, join groups, send friend requests and, of course, start conversations.
I would recommend using BuddyPress to anyone who wants to create a platform to communicate or exchange ideas within a more restricted context than that of the “public” web. That is, within a company, organization, etc.
WordPress themes for forums
Let us now turn to the themes. If you want to create a site that is a forum in its entirety, I suggest you take a look at the themes that arise for this.
Kleo is a template designed especially for BuddyPress, which includes numerous demo sites that you can install with just one click.
The functionalities, both for you who create the site and for the users who visit it, are many and are dedicated to the most diverse sectors of activity, from eCommerce to eLearning.
Try the Kleo demo on this page.
An excellent theme designed for bbPress is Disputo. This template is more suitable for those who want to create a complete support platform for their users / customers. The theme includes features to create a FAQ section, a forum section, a voting system (like / dislike) and is compatible with WooCommerce. You can check out the Disputo demo here.
If you think that opening a forum on WordPress is just what you need, I really hope my advice has been useful to you. But I would like to know from you:
What prompted you to decide to create a forum?
Or, if you have decided not to use this type of website:
Why do you think the forum is not a suitable solution for you?
Let’s talk about it in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!
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