The Internet, by its very nature, is a social place, so the proliferation of social media in recent years should come as no surprise. Individuals use social media to keep up with friends and relatives while business has very cleverly embraced the concept to stay in touch with customers and clients.
That being said, a more traditional way of connecting with others online remains popular – the forum. Forums are ideal for connecting, discussing, sharing, collaborating, analysing, contributing and everything in between. Visitors and/or clients to your website are able to actively contribute, giving them a sense of community and camaraderie.
WordPress, as probably the main and most popular CMS available, is the perfect platform for adding a forum to. And the most popular method for adding a forum to WordPress is via the trusty plugin.
There a quite a few forum plugins currently available for the WordPress CMS. We have listed what we believe to be a few of the main ones in the paragraphs below.
One of the most popular plugins around at the moment is BuddyPress. This plugin offers great functionality and is classed as a forum and social network creator. It is a lightweight yet powerful plugin that allows users to create profiles and groups, connect with clients or friends for the purpose of discussion, and post status updates, much like many of the current social media sites.
BuddyPress is also available with several extensions.
bbPress is a little simpler in design and usability than BuddyPress is, but it is still extremely popular nonetheless. Due to its simplicity and seamless integration with WordPress, all of the forum’s functionality can be controlled from the WordPress dashboard. Some of its best features are:
- one-click installation,
- the ability to create multi-site forums
- easy moderation.
Because of this plugin’s simplicity, it is extremely ‘lightweight’. As well as this, there are many add-on features that can be added via alternative plugins.
WP Symposium Pro
WP Symposium Pro offers its users both forum and social media functionality. This gives them the chance to interact on many different levels, making it a truly ‘social’ tool. The plugin allows for the creation of multiple forums with lots of different layout options.
Another great feature of the plugin is the ability to extend the basic functions of the forum feature and turn it into a true social community. Although the basic plugin is free, there is a licence fee required to add much of the additional features. However, we believe it is well worth the money considering what you actually get for your licence fee.
Simple:Press is, well, a simple option as a forum plugin for WordPress. It is ideal for both small and large forums and it integrates seamlessly with the CMS. Forum customisation is made simple by making use of themes and templates.
Simple:Press can be integrated with many of the other plugins available from the Simple:Press range, and it also integrates well with other popular services, including BuddyPress (covered above).