Online forums make it easy for us to kick-start discussions, find like-minded people and also promote our business. Forums can be run as an attachment to a larger website, or exist on their own. If you’re about how to build a forum website, here are three ways to accomplish this task.
|1. Three Ways to Build a Forum Website|
|2. How to Create a Successful Forum|
|3. Things That Will Make Your Forum Popular|
Many believe that forums are dying because of social networking. Indeed, in the past, forums and message boards used to be our social media. But today, with all our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts we simply forget about forum discussions. Yet they still have great worth.
Believe it or not, but forums are still one of the most popular places to ask and answer questions about brands and products. Businesses use them as bespoke and more targeted, well-organized social media that they have full control over. Isn’t it great?
3 Ways to Build a Forum Website
Option 1: Open-Source Forum Building Software
This is probably the most common way to make forum. This option implies buying a domain name, hosting plan and choosing an open-source program.
Luckily, the choice is rather wide: there are both paid and free packages geared towards creating multi-functional forums, like phpBB or bbPress, for example.
If you’re a pro, you will certainly love them, as they give you full control over your forum design and functionality. However, if you’re looking for a WYSIWYG solution, I would recommend that you check out easier options.
Option 2: Wix – the Easiest Way to Make a Forum for Free
In January 2017, after 10 years since it’s launch Wix has enabled a forum building update. I’d wondered why there was no such option before. But now this website builder is considered to be versatile.
Here’s a short guide of how to create a free forum with Wix:
Step 1: Register with Wix and create a website.
Step 2: Select Forum App from the Wix App Market. You can find it in Social App Section (it’s free).
Step 3: Now you received a default forum template. As you see, Wix forum differs from standard forum view. With the block category structure and logo pictures, It looks at least modern and attractive.
Step 4: Set up your forum. Wix has a lot of forum settings but they’re a compactly packed into 6 menu options.
Step 5: Select a forum posts view. You can choose between ‘Cards’ view or ‘Classic’ view.
Step 6: Publish your website and your forum is live.
If you choose a free Wix plan, you are able to create a website on Wix subdomain only (your site URL will look like user.wix.com/sitename). Plus your website will contain an ad-banner. I think, you’ll agree that such URL and ads looks unpleasant. No fix that you should subscribe to one of the paid plans that start from $8.50/mo.
Option 3: uCoz Website Builder – The Most Featured Service to Create a Forum
Creating a complex forum is no longer a difficult task. There are many DIY softwares out there that let you set up a decent forum overnight. One of these is uCoz website builder. uCoz is targeting both the end user and professionals, as it offers both DIY and advanced editing solutions.
Although uCoz isn’t a specialized forum website builder, it offers a very powerful Forum Module. It can be used separately and along with other Modules (Blog, Photo Albums, Online Games, Web Polls, Guestbook, FAQs and others). The good news is that you can use it free as long as you need. You can even add your own domain name without having to upgrade your account. So, it’s absolutely risk-free. Below is a brief step-by-step-guide on how to create a forum using uCoz:
How to Create a Free Forum With uCoz
Setting up a forum with uCoz is very easy, but we still like to give a good thorough step-by-step walk through:
Register and confirm your registration. Registration is free and doesn’t require entering any billing info.
Select a domain name. Here I must note that with uCoz you have three options: 1) use a subdomain (sitename.ucoz.com); 2) attach a previously purchased domain; this option is available for free users, too; 3) purchase a new domain through http://domains.ucoz.com/.
Select a template. Again, you’ll have three options. Firstly, you can go with a standard template. Secondly, you can create your own design. Thirdly, you can opt for a paid one from the official store. I would recommend that you start off with one of the free, standard templates. You can switch it anytime. The most recent free templates are all responsive, and marked as Mobile-Friendly by Google for the mobile search results.
Enable Forum Module. There are 22 modules, including Mini Chat, Polls, Publisher, Blog, Site News, Tests, Ad Board, Forum and more. If you need to build a forum, it’s obvious that your core module will be Forum. However, nothing stops you from activating additional modules to extend your site’s functionality. Thus, you can add a blog, poll, ad board and even an Eshop to your forum if you so wish. The modules can be turned on and off any time.
Customize your forum, post content and go live. Now it’s time to customize your forum, specifically, you can:
- choose icons for your forum;
- set number of threads/posts per page;
- set maximum message length;
- set maximum uploaded file size and more.
Once you have finished adjusting the functionality, you can fine-tune your site’s look. To properly edit templates you must have a basic knowledge of CSS and HTML.
The Forum module is closely connected with the Users module which is installed automatically for each website. Adjust its settings to control who can leave entries, moderate messages, upload files, create polls, remove threads etc.
Once you have published the website, you can continue using it free. Pay attention to the fact that all free accounts have to display ads. In order to get rid of the advert, upgrade your website. Ad-free uCoz websites start at $5.99/mo.
How to Create a Successful Forum
To make your forum website a success, you should initially understand that users, who join online communities, have versatile interests and goals. This is a widespread misconception that only music enthusiasts or people, who have hobbies, join online communities to find their co-thinkers there. That’s not true. Interests differ and so do forums.
Whatever business you run, there will always be users willing to become forum members at your website to stay informed about current news and updates. A forum is a perfect place for finding answers to lots of burning questions and staying in touch with like-minded people through the open-channel 24/7 communication. These are the must-have points your forum should include to become a success:
Custom Logo. Having launched a forum and made sure it works well, you should obligatory add your company logo to it. If you plan to use a forum for your individual purposes, think about creating your own logo and incorporate it to the forum. This will reveal the professionalism and credibility of your online community, contributing to its reputation.
Additions. The prevailing amount of forums come with standard functions and features, so, the best way to give your forum personalized look is to make the additions. By adding such hacks as a journal or a store, for example, you encourage users to come back to the website again and again to enjoy these options.
Unique Styles. Default forum styles may look quite boring as opposed to unique ones. Don’t overlook a possibility to create a forum style of your own. If you can’t, make use of the integrated style management feature to do that. This may take some time, but the result will be surely worth that.
Unusual Offers. Keeping the existing members interested in visiting your forum is much more difficult than attracting them for the first time. With this purpose, it makes sense to organize contests and make up unusual offers that will encourage users to visit your forum. Such contests may be organized every month, for example, and you can even award the winners with encouraging prizes. This is one of the tricks that really work.
Rules. There are no forums without rules and yours should not be an exception as well. This doesn’t mean, of course, that the list of rules should be too long. Instead, it should contain the most essential points each forum member should be aware of. The set of rules reveals your professional approach to business in general. Rules may differ with regard to the specialization of your forum, so, take your time to think about them in advance.
Watch Out for Malignant Members. Running a forum is frequently even more complicated than launching it. This is because you have to watch out for different kinds of online frauds and malignant members, who visit your forum to gain their own purposes. If you fail to detect such elements at once, your forum reputation may be at risk. So, take active part in all forum discussions to identify the spammers and the trolls the sooner-the better and to stay aware of your forum content.
Top 5 Things That Will Make Your Forum Popular
There is no single set of success recommendations and tips for all the forums. Online communities differ from each other, which triggers the necessity to incorporate versatile features. However, you can still make use of the most widespread instructions that will help make your forum popular. Here are some of them:
Content. Your forum is all about the content it involves. “Users may visit it once or twice just for the interest, but if they don’t find something they really need there, they will hardly come back again. With so many forums available out there nowadays, finding the most suitable one is no longer a problem and your number one task tis to add only relevant and unique content that will differ from that posted by your competitors.
Members. Success and popularity of most forums depend a lot upon their members. I mean, on those of them, who actively participate in forum discussions and add content that might be interesting and useful for other members. This is the essence and the basics of any successful online community. When your forum is still new, it will hardly have many members at once. That’s obvious. You can go two ways here. You can encourage your friends to post actively in it or hire someone that will do that until a forum gains popularity. There is nothing more effective than real people posting real threads in forum discussions on a regular basis.
Create a Forum Video Guide. Modern forums often come with advanced features that may seem too complicated for the online community members. Search and messaging options, notifications, posting, signatures, private communication… These is the incomplete list of what members may face at your forum. Creating a forum video guide is the best way to provide your forum members with information they currently need.
Participate in Forum Discussions Yourself. There is nothing more encouraging for the forum members than staying in touch with its owner. The best way to do that is to participate in everyday forum discussions on your own or even make online forum video calls and conferences. If possible, don’t overlook an opportunity to organize real meetings with your forum members from time to time. Nothing can be more efficient for users than real-time conversations with the owner, who is sincerely interested in the development of the online community.
Offer Your Regular Visitors Special Ranks. As time goes by, there will be users, who will remain enthusiastic about your forum and will become its regular visitors. They will participate in everyday discussions, thus initiating forum communication and keeping it alive. If there are such members at your forum already, it definitely makes sense to offer them special ranks to encourage active forum participation in future. This is how you can reward their dedication and recognize them within the entire online community.
Forums are still part of the social media sphere and should be used as a way to create strong communities and bringing existing communities together. Despite constantly growing social networks, forums aren’t just a spare tyre. It seems every site builder has a forum. Forums aren’t dead.