Do you want to create your own forum on a WordPress site?
Online forums let you build a community where your visitors or members can post their own content. They can ask questions, give solutions, or even share ideas and stories.
Forums increase engagement and create a sense of belonging. And visitors who participate are more likely to come back to your site or recommend you to others.
In this article, we’ll show you how to easily add a forum in WordPress.
Why Create a WordPress Forum on Your Site?
Forums are a great way to build a community of visitors or members to boost engagement. But they can do a lot more than that.
Forums serve as a support system where customers can help resolve each other’s issues and queries. This, in turn, reduces your burden of managing customer support.
Take WordPress.org, for example, which has built one of the biggest online support communities. The forums are active with users and developers posting questions, feedback, and ideas.
Forums also work great for websites that offer courses and tutorials. Students can discuss the material among themselves or participate in group discussions.
Plus, popular threads can drive traffic to your site, so it’s great for SEO. In fact, there have been many instances where forum discussions outrank pages and posts.
Apart from all this, forums also give you a true picture of your visitors and customers. You can find out where you need to improve your business and user experience (UX) by browsing through forum discussions.
Now that we know why you’d want to create a WordPress forum for your website, let’s look at our step-by-step guide on how to do so.
What Do You Need To Create an Online Forum?
To create an online forum, the easiest way to start is with a WordPress website. If you don’t have one already, here’s what you’ll need:
A domain name – This is your website’s address like “isitwp.com.” Users can type in this URL in the address bar of a browser to visit your site.
A web hosting account – This is where your website files will be stored.
A domain name usually costs $14.99 per year and web hosting costs $7.99 per month. We know that this may be a lot when you’re just starting.
Luckily, Bluehost has a special offer for IsItWP users. You can get a web hosting account for $2.75 per month along with a free domain and SSL certificate.
The SSL certificate is a great added bonus, as it lets visitors know that your site is secure.
Plus, Bluehost has a one-click WordPress installation process. That means you can set up your WordPress site easily.
Bluehost makes it affordable and easy for anyone to get started with a WordPress site. They’re one of the biggest WordPress hosting companies in the world and are officially recommended by WordPress.
Once you have your WordPress site ready, you can start setting up your online forum.
Creating an Online Forum in WordPress
There are different ways to set up an online forum in WordPress. You can use a WordPress plugin or integrate with third-party providers.
The easiest way to add a forum is using a tool called bbPress.
bbPress is a free plugin for WordPress that lets you create forums on your site in minutes.
It makes managing and moderating your forums easy, so it’s a great choice for beginners too. It’s also light-weight and fast, so it doesn’t affect your site’s performance.
For this tutorial, we’ll be using bbPress, and here’s what we’ll be covering:
- Installing and Activating bbPress
- Creating a Forum With bbPress
- Displaying the Forum on Your Site
- Integrating the Forum With Your WordPress Theme
- Managing bbPress Forum Settings
- Setting Forum User Roles in bbPress
Step 1: Installing and Activating bbPress
To get started, you need to install and activate bbPress on your site. It’s available on the bbPress site as well as in the WordPress repository.
You can install it like you would install any WordPress plugin.
Once you’ve activated the plugin on your site, you’re ready to create a forum for your site.
Step 2: Creating a Forum With bbPress
When you activate bbPress on your site, it will add a Forums tab in your WordPress menu. You may need to wait for a minute or two for it to appear.
To create your forum, access the Forums » Add New page. This will take you to an edit screen that’s similar to a normal WordPress post edit screen.
Simply add a title for your forum along with a description. Then, publish your page to create the forum.
By repeating these steps, you can create as many forums as you want to have different topics or categories.
Step 3: Displaying the Forum on Your Site
Now your forum is ready to be displayed on your site. To do this, you’ll first need to create a page for your forums.
On your WordPress dashboard, create a new page by navigating to the Pages » Add New link.
In the post edit screen, you can add a title for your page such as ‘Forums’ or ‘Community Support’. Then, paste this shortcode
The shortcode is automatically added to a shortcode block. If you don’t see the shortcode block, you’ll need to add it using the (+) icon and then paste the code inside.
Once you’re done, save or publish your page. Now, you can visit the page, and you’ll see that your forums appear like so:
Users can click on the forums to enter the discussion. They can post topics and reply to posts.
Next, you’ll want to add the forum to your website menu so users can find it easily. Go to the Appearance » Menus page. Now, you can select the forum page and add it to the menu.
When you do this, a link to the forum page will appear in the menu of your site.
Now visitors can click on this link to access your forums.
Step 4: Integrating the Forum With Your WordPress Theme
When you create a WordPress forum on your site, there are a few steps you may want to take to make it user-friendly.
In this section, we’ll show you how to let anyone register and then log into your site. We’ll also show you how to create a ‘Lost Password’ page so users can recover access to their account in case they forget their password.
1. Create a Registration Page
To open up your forum for new registrations, you need to change your site’s membership settings.
Head over to the Settings » General page. Scroll down to find the ‘Membership’ option and check the ‘Anyone can register’ box.
This will allow new registrations for your WordPress forum. Once done, don’t forget to save your changes before you exit the page.
Now that you’ve permitted anyone to register, you’ll need a registration page. It’s easy to do this with bbPress.
Go to Pages » Add New to create a new page.
Here, you can add a title like ‘Register’ and then paste this shortcode
Then save and publish your page. Now your site will display a registration page to users who aren’t logged in to your site.
2. Create a Lost Password Page
It’s important to give your users an option to recover their password in case they forget it.
To create the lost password page, go to the Pages » Add New tab. You can name this page ‘Lost Password’.
Here, you can paste the following shortcode
[bbp-lost-pass]. Then, publish your page to make it available to visitors.
3. Create a Login Form Page
Finally, you’ll need a login form page so that users can enter their credentials and log into your site.
For this, bbPress has a built-in login widget that you can use. Go to Appearance » Widgets and add the bbPress Login Widget to your header, sidebar, footer, or any widget-ready area.
When you do this, you’ll see new fields open up where you can paste your ‘Register’ page URL and the ‘Lost Password’ page URL.
Save the settings and visit your site to see the login form in action. You’ll see links to register and recover lost password added to the page.
With that, your forum is ready and your users can now register, log in, and post topics for discussion.
Step 5: Managing bbPress Forum Settings
When you open a forum, you’ll need to manage and moderate it. This discourages many site owners from creating forums.
Having said that, bbPress makes it really easy to manage forums. To set your preferences, go to the Settings » Forums page.
In most cases, the default settings work just fine. We’ll take a quick look at what bbPress lets you do so that you can make changes to the settings if needed.
First, bbPress automatically assigns the ‘participant’ role to registered visitors. You can use the dropdown menu to change the role. If you want to manually assign roles, simply uncheck the box next to it.
Next, your forum may face issues when too many users post discussions at the same time. To prevent flooding and spam, bbPress adds a 10-second delay between posts. You can increase or decrease the time period to your liking.
After this, the Editing option gives users 5 minutes to edit their post after they publish it. This allows users to correct any typos and errors. You can change the time allowed or uncheck the box to remove this option.
When you scroll down on the same page, you’ll see a Forum Features section.
By default, bbPress turns on all features available. But you can uncheck boxes here if you want to remove the feature from your forum.
Below this section, you’ll see Forum Display features where you can select a bbPress template. You can also set the number of posts and topics to display in forum pages and RSS feeds.
And finally, you’ll see the Forum Root Slug section where you can select URL slugs for different sections and forum pages.
bbPress automatically uses SEO-friendly URLs but you can change them here in case you need to match your site’s URLs.
When you’re happy with the settings, hit the ‘Save’ button to store your changes.
Step 5: Setting WordPress Forum User Roles in bbPress
bbPress has five pre-defined roles that you can assign when you create or edit a user profile.
1. Keymaster – This role is designed for website owners and administrators. The Keymaster role is automatically assigned to the user who installed bbPress. They can create and delete forums. They can also create, edit, and delete posts and topics within forums.
2. Moderators – Users with this role can moderate forums, topics, and posts.
3. Participants – Users can create and edit topics and posts. They can also favorite and subscribe to topics they like.
4. Spectators – This role gets read-only access to public forums, topics, and posts. They cannot add any content to the forum.
5. Blocked – All capabilities are removed for the user. However, they can still view publicly available topics and posts. They will not have any access to participate in the forums.
Using these roles, you can allow users your trust to moderate the forum, while the rest can simply participate.
Optimizing Your Forum For Growth and Success
Now that your forum is set up, you need to make it attractive and promote it so that it comes alive with participants.
First, you’ll want to change the appearance of your forum so that it matches your brand. bbPress integrates with any WordPress theme. All of the top WordPress themes come with custom bbPress styles that you can use to make your forum look beautiful.
Once your forum looks great, you can start promoting it. Here are a few tools you can use that will help you grow your online forum quickly.
OptinMonster is the most powerful lead generation tool in the market that can help you grow your registrations fast. It lets you create stunning campaigns that convert your visitors into forum members.
See our review of the OptinMonster tool to learn more on how you can generate leads and conversions.
MonsterInsights is the best Google Analytics tool for WordPress that gives you insights into your forums. You can see which forum topics and discussions are popular. You can also track your traffic and find out where you need to improve your site.
These tools can help make your forums more appealing and engaging. They help you grow your traffic and subscribers as well.
And with that, you now have everything you need to create and run an online forum in WordPress. We hope you liked this article. If so, you may also want to check out these must-have WordPress plugins to grow your forum and your website.
And if you’re interested in monetizing your forum, see our list of the best membership plugins that will help you do that.