You want your website to function as both a blog and a community. Does that mean you shouldn’t use WordPress to power your blog because it’s not a community script? No! You don’t have to make any sacrifices if you’re a fan of WordPress. Several scripts exist that not only let you add forums to your website but that even allow you to create fully-featured community websites.
Since I am a content contributor and web developer for one matrimonial law firm from New York, I decided to build a forum for website visitors. I realized that the forum will contribute more to the lawyers to feel the pulse of potential clients, and make bigger interaction among them. I researched many solutions to find out which solution would be the best for my client. I singled these three plugins as “best of the best” WordPress forum plugins.
One of the more popular solutions on this list is a free plugin that makes your WordPress website appear like a Ning group. Registered users have profiles and can participate in forum threads with or without groups. You can add custom profile fields, assign moderators and even install additional chat components for real-time chat between your community members. In fact, the bbPress-specific plugins help you to keep your installation light and prevent it from hogging resources while still having access to the features that you need on your forum.
If you customize bbPress, your members won’t know they’re on a WordPress-powered website, and tools exist to let you migrate from other forum setups. Plus, you get the advantage of an active support community, which some of the less popular forum options don’t have.
SimplePress also gets major kudos from just about anyone who has ever had a need to add forums to a WordPress-powered blog. If you want a more traditional-looking forum, then SimplePress is your solution. You can’t find this plugin on in the WordPress repository, but it is available for free from the official SimplePress website.
Features for the admin include spam protection, board statistics, RSS feeds for the entire site and individual forum, public and private forums, post moderation and a safe way to store components separately from the plugin. Users can enjoy ranks and badges, signatures, avatars, subscriptions to thread, topic watching and more. SimplePress even includes a spoiler tag and support for WP shortcodes. All in all, this is the solution most like PHPBB and other forum solutions currently available.
Tal.ki Embeddable Forums
The final tool on this list might be the one that is the least known, but that doesn’t make Tal.ki Embeddable Forums any less useful. Installation is as simple as any other plugin that you can search for from your dashboard. The forum script styles itself according to your currently-installed WordPress theme, so you don’t have to do an insane amount of work by yourself. However, you can further customize your new forum with CSS if you choose.
Like SimplePress, you’ll be able to create public forums that anyone can see and private forums that require registration for visitors to view them. Tal.ki Embeddable Forums includes Twitter and Facebook integration, which is something that even standalone forum software sometimes lacks. Users can subscribe to email updates for new posts to interesting threads, and you don’t have to worry about search engine optimization because the creators of Tal.ki Embeddable Forums took those principles into mind. Your thread URLs are search engine-friendly. Finally, users can log in with their WordPress, Facebook, Google or other social media credentials credentials, which might just inspire reluctant folks to join your forum.
While this is a short list and many other forum plugins exist, we think you’ll find that one of these three meets all your WordPress-based community needs.
- License: Creative Commons Photo taken from Flick with CC license. Author: Titanas image source
Richard H. WordPress master, blogger and a WordPress developer. In this article Richard shared with us his tips about WordPress plugins which he used when contributing on Samuelson Hause & Samuelson website. This plugins can help lawyers, real estate and other small business owners to easy establish forum on their websites, where can they searching for potential clients.