WordPress is a powerful content management system for creating content and blog sites. But still not suitable for creating community based forum sites. there are hardly few plugins offer forums like bbPress, Asgaros, wpForo, etc. Again the capabilities of all these plugin based forums are far away from the traditional forum packages like phpBB, vBulletin, Simple Machines Forum, etc. Now that it will be a stalemate situation to have a simple forum on your existing site.
Related: bbPress Vs phpBB forum.
Issues with Dedicated PHP Forums
Generally people install forums on subdomain like forum.mysite.com and use PHP packages to build the community. This will have lot of problems like below:
- PHP based forums like phpBB will take high server resources thus slowing down your main site.
- Maintaining separate site (subdomain) needs additional moderation and administration.
- You may need to manage two different user management systems on forum and main site separately. Users registering for forum on subdomain can’t purchase items from your WooCommerce store on the main site.
- PHP forums are number one target for spammers, so you should be very careful in administering the forum.
- Most of the PHP forums don’t support SEO friendly URLs. Though this is not a real problem for SEO, it causes problem for users to remember the URL. And also migrating to any other platform will be impossible with these dynamic URLs.
So in summary, managing dedicated PHP forum needs huge effort in addition to managing WordPress site, if you have. So, it’s a good idea to look into the integrated plugin approach with WordPress. Unfortunately bbPress does not have much options like customization of look. The Asgaros forum does not offer full user management system. So the best available option is wpForo forum plugin. We have tried this plugin and for sure it’s a good experience. Here is what you can do with wpForo WordPress forum plugin.
Installing wpForo Plugin
gVectors is the developer of wpForo plugin. Installation is simple like any other plugins from WordPress admin panel. Go to “Plugins > Add New” and search for wpForo in the search box. Install and activate the plugin to add forums to your site. The plugin will create menu items like below under “Forums” menu.
Go to “Forums > Forums” menu, here is the place you can customize all settings of your forums. You can have three types of forums with wpForo – simple layout, extended layout and Q&A layout. You can change the layout any point of time without hassle. Just drag and drop the forums to rearrange the order.
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The “Settings” menu contains many tabs to customize your forums. When you activate wpForo plugin, it will create a forums page on your WordPress site. This page will have URL like “yoursite.com/community/” and contains only the shortcode [ wpforo ]. You can change the forum URL under “General” tab as shown below.
You can customize the color, menu items and sidebar widgets as per your need. wpForo also offers four custom widgets you can use on site wide. This will help you to integrate the forum easily with your parent site. The published forum on your WordPress site will look like below:
Frankly the forum has all features what you need.
- You can mark the topics as solved, hot, sticky, private or closed.
- Upload basic attachments for free, full management of attachments need a premium add-on.
- View recent posts and search the forum for any keywords.
- All guest users to post and supports smileys in the content.
- Forum looks elegant and responsive on all devices.
- You can insert shortcodes from other plugin directly inside forum content.
- Create categories and group related forums or create sub-forums.
- View members, activity feed and subscriptions. Use @ to mention the member name anywhere.
- Have custom avatar or use WordPress avatar.
- SEO titles, caching and many other use options for customizing.
Go to “Forums > Settings” and navigate to “Features” tab to setup the needed features for your forum. Below is how the post content will look on your wpForo forum.
wpForo offers extensive user management by integrating the WordPress login pages to the custom forum login. You can also setup custom login and registration URL if you want. The extensive member rating system allows you to have different rating for members based on the number of posts. Though this is not always the case you would like, this should be the nominal logic for rating members.
In addition, you can show the member reputation, badge and group below the user in each topic. All activities and subscriptions of an user can be seen in an elegant profile view.
You can get support either through the WordPress support forum or post your query on wpForo forum. Generally the support is good as you can see in the WordPress support forum. Remember wpForo is a free plugin and you should not expect the instantaneous support just because you want to get immediate help.
Beside the forum support, there is also extensive documentation available for you read and troubleshoot your problems.
wpForo also offers premium addons for the below functions:
- Embeds – allow to embed media content form social networking sites.
- Polls – add polls to your forum.
- MyCRED Integration – award myCRED points for the community.
- User Custom Fields – allows adding custom fields in user profile.
- Advanced Attachments – helps to manage media attachment to posts.
- Private Messages – send private messages (PM) between forum members.
- Forum – Cross Blog Posting – publish blog posts as a forum post and comments as replies.
- Ads Manager – manage advertisements in the forum.
Generally the addons cost somewhere from $20 to $ 75 depending on your license.
Uninstalling the Plugin
One of the good things is that the plugin offers “Uninstall” link in the plugin section. This will help to completely delete all forum related content on your site before you deactivate and delete the plugin.
Overall wpForo is the only promising WordPress plugins to add forums to your existing WordPress site. You can also easily create full fledged forum site on WordPress installation. We believe some missing features like Sitemap will get added soon. From our point of view, if you are looking for easily maintainable forum that smoothly integrates with WordPress, then give a try to wpForo. You will not get disappointed.
- Fully integrate user management with WordPress.
- Have similar capabilities like PHP forum packages within WordPress.
- Integrate with WooCommerce.
- Very easy to setup and start your community.
- Caching and user friendly URLs.
- Easy uninstallation process to completely delete all database tables and content.
- Easy to create category based forum groups and sub-forums.
- Good looking avatar and ranking system for users.
- You can even migrate other WordPress based forums to wpForo with the migration tool offered.
- No XML Sitemap generated for the topics, this will lead delay in indexing in search engines. Google should automatically index the pages since it is not possible to use fetch as Google option whenever new topic is published on the forum.
- Forum topics and replies are not custom WordPress post types. So you can’t use any of the custom post types functions within WordPress dashboard.
- You can’t publish topics and reply within dashboard; you should always go to the forum for publishing content.
- Exactly similar look with Asgaros forum, you will get confused with these two plugins when looking at first time.
- The plugin does not work on localhost installations, so the only way is to try on live site.