Are you looking for the best WordPress forum plugins?
Forums and discussion boards are a great way to boost user engagement and build a community around your site.
In this article, we will share some of the best WordPress forum plugins you can use to build a community around your website or business.
Aside from the basic forum features, we also made sure to find solutions with advanced functionalities like question/answer boards, custom social network features, and more so you can build the community of your dreams.
Why Create a Forum on Your WordPress Site?
Online forums are an effective community-building tool where your website visitors can participate by posting questions, sharing solutions, new ideas, etc.
Your forum could be a Q&A (question-and-answer) platform, discussion board, knowledge sharing space, or a problem-solving support zone.
There are multiple advantages of adding a forum to your website.
First, your WordPress forum software will help users engage and participate on your website. When they participate, they’re more likely to come back, buy your products, and recommend them to their friends and family.
Second, it’s one of the most common and effective ways to provide support to your customers. When your customers have a technical or generic support question, they can hop into the forum and check to see if the issue is already posted. If it’s a new problem, then they can post and get their problem solved.
Lastly, it gives SEO value to your website when a unique issue is discussed, and the thread becomes popular.
Forum threads often outrank other types of content in search results. Sometimes, user-generated content makes more sense than formal posts on your blog.
You will need a WordPress website to use these plugins. If you want to start a new website, then you will need a domain and web hosting.
That said, here’re the best plugins to add a forum to your WordPress website.
bbPress is hands-down the best WordPress forum plugin. It is a sister project of WordPress.org, which means it’s built the WordPress way and uses the WordPress core to power your forum.
bbPress is easy to set up, moderate and maintain, fast, and clean. Anyone can easily create a forum in WordPress using this plugin. If you need detailed instructions, we have a tutorial on how to set up bbPress in WordPress.
- Built for WordPress, bbPress utilizes the same WordPress core and follows the same coding standards.
- It integrates with any WordPress theme without painful modifications. There are also some excellent WordPress themes for bbPress that you can use.
- Hundreds of bbPress extensions are available to do just about anything you want.
- Since it doesn’t have a lot of bloats, bbPress is fast and lightweight.
- You can easily create multisite forums and maintain them from one dashboard.
- It’s free, open-source software, so you can use it unlimited for free.
- Not as feature-rich as full-fledged forum CMS like phpBB and Vanilla Forums.
- The core plugin has only the basic features, so you need to install additional extensions for more power.
BuddyPress allows you to build your social network within WordPress. Just like bbPress, BuddyPress is also an official WordPress plugin. It follows the same coding practices and standards as WordPress.
With BuddyPress, you can create a full-fledged online community with user profiles, activity streams, user groups, messaging, and networking options.
Like Facebook and other social networks, users can add friends, send private messages, create groups, get notifications, and more.
Best of all, you can use BuddyPress and bbPress together and create a feature-rich online forum.
- It easily integrates with any WordPress theme and plugin.
- Hundreds of third-party BuddyPress plugins and extensions to extend the functionality.
- It lets you easily create a complete social network with activity streams, user profiles, social connections, groups, etc.
- It’s free and open source. Download BuddyPress for free and use it on unlimited sites, and also get regular updates.
- The core plugin lacks the advanced features necessary to build a full-fledged online community. To extend its power, you’ll need to depend on third-party plugins.
ForumEngine is a WordPress theme that turns your WordPress site into a discussion forum. It’s a powerful theme built specifically for creating a forum in WordPress. The theme shows the forum threads right on your website homepage.
With ForumEngine, you can create forums where users can interact in many ways, like posting topics and questions, replying, liking, or disliking a topic. And Ajax Live Search lets users quickly search for any topic in the list.
It also provides a private space for users to access and manage all their activities in the forum.
- It’s a full-fledged WordPress forum theme, so you won’t need to install any plugins to create a forum in WordPress.
- It provides plenty of styling options to change the appearance of your forum and make it look attractive.
- Plenty of widgets for adding forum statistics, categories, hot topics, etc.
- It allows you to display advertisements and earn extra income.
- It’s a forum-specific theme, so it’s hard to create a regular business or eCommerce site with this. You can integrate it with your WordPress blog, but it doesn’t have options to display products, etc.
- It’s a paid theme. Free options like bbPress and BuddyPress may be better if you have a limited budget.
Simple:Press is a good solution for adding a forum to your WordPress site. It comes with both free and premium versions, so you can choose the option according to your need.
Using Simple:Press, you can create unlimited forums, forum groups, sub-forums, and private and public forums easily. You can also lock and pin any forum. To let you manage the users, it has a powerful user group and permission system. Your users can create extended profiles with timezone and a lot more.
- Fully integrated into WordPress, it supports WordPress registrations and logins.
- Supports both standard WordPress and multisite installs as well.
- More than 70 premium plugins are available to extend its features.
- Creates SEO-friendly permalinks and includes many SEO features.
- The free version is fairly basic. You’ll need to purchase a premium plan to add advanced functionalities.
wpForo is a free WordPress forum plugin with plenty of design and customization options. It features three design layouts for your forum: Extended, Simplified, and Question and Answer layout. Each layout has a unique design and features. Plus, there’re six sets of forum color styles, including dark style.
Using this plugin, you can easily create modern forums where your users can participate, get support, and contribute. Users can post questions, answer, vote, subscribe to topics, receive notifications, share topics on social media, etc.
- Available for free with options to extend functionalities by purchasing paid addons.
- Built-in features for search engine optimization (SEO), XML sitemap, caching, antispam, etc.
- Smooth integration with BuddyPress to allow more social networking features.
- Only basic features are granted in the free plugin. You’ll need to pay for advanced features like ad management, polls, user custom fields, private messaging, etc.
- The plugin settings are a bit complex for first-time users.
Asgaros Forum is a simple WordPress forum plugin you can use on your live website. It’s the best forum plugin for anyone who is looking to add a lightweight forum page to their existing sites with ease. It’s super easy to set up and adds a feature-rich discussion board in WordPress.
- Simple and lightweight forum plugin for beginners as well as professionals.
- Simple yet powerful options are available for content management, members, and permissions.
- Forum statistics to let you see how well your forum is performing.
- Multisite compatible plugin.
- It doesn’t have extensions to add more functionalities.
CM Answers allows you to create a powerful Q&A (question and answer) discussion forum in WordPress. The basic free plugin has enough features to quickly set up a Stack Exchange-like forum on your website.
It enables users to post questions, answer questions, vote, upload files, subscribe to categories, send private messages, etc.
As the admin, you can customize questions, and answers, filter out unwanted content and manage the users. If you want additional features like anonymous posting and payments, you can buy the plugin addons.
- Integrates seamlessly with most WordPress themes.
- Users can vote on questions and answers.
- The Premium version has many more features, including the ability to choose the best answer, profiles, comments, social media log in, etc.
- Your forum is limited to a Q&A format.
- Most useful features are available for the premium version.
- Some reviews on the plugin’s page indicate that users found it difficult to use.
WPForms is the best WordPress contact form plugin on the market. It lets you create any type of form in WordPress using a drag-and-drop form builder.
Unlike other forum plugins, WPForms allows your users to submit their questions using a simple contact form. It also comes with a save and resume feature that lets users save their long entries and continue later.
- Known as the most beginner-friendly plugin for creating a contact form, survey form, etc.
- Free and pro versions are available. The WPForms Pro version is affordable and worth every penny you spend.
- Hundreds of ready-made form templates, dozens of addons, and unbelievable flexibility.
- Smart conditional logic displays fields to users based on their answers.
- Instant notifications allow you to get back to your users right away.
- Though it serves the purpose of helping your visitors, it isn’t a direct forum plugin.
Discussion Board is a free plugin you can use to create a forum. It’s easy to install and set up the plugin, so anyone can build a forum in WordPress without touching any code.
Using this plugin, you can allow front-end registration and login system to attract more users. To avoid spamming, it has options to restrict repost, moderation of comments, etc.
- Discussion Board theme specifically designed to go well with the plugin. You can also use this plugin with any theme you like.
- It comes with plenty of handy shortcodes for displaying forms, lists of topics, etc.
- A paid version is available to add more options and possibilities.
- The free version lacks powerful options. You’ll need to purchase their premium plan for many useful features.
SeedProd is the best WordPress theme and website builder plugin. It allows you to create a custom theme that you can use with any WordPress forum plugin on this list.
It comes with hundreds of page templates and website layouts that you can import in a single click. SeedProd also integrates with many popular forum and Q&A plugins like bbPress, BuddyPress, and more.
Here’s an interesting and related guide on how to create a question and answers site in WordPress.
- Create a forum website from scratch and not just the forum landing page.
- A beginner-friendly website builder that requires no coding skills.
- Many other features, including ready-made coming soon pages, maintenance mode pages, and more.
- You’ll need to buy the SeedProd Pro plan to access the theme and website builder.
Important Advice on Building a Forum Website
Regardless of your choice of online forum software, you will need extra hosting resources to run a successful online community.
You can install all these WordPress forum plugins on a shared hosting plan. You can even run a forum quite effectively on the same starter hosting package.
If you are just starting and want to test the waters, we recommend using Bluehost. They are one of the top hosting companies in the world and is an officially recommended WordPress hosting provider.
However, as more visitors use your forum, it will slow down your website and may even crash it. In that case, you will need to upgrade to a managed WordPress hosting plan.
Our second choice would be WPEngine. They are one of the top-managed WordPress hosting companies in the world.
We hope this article helped you find the best forum plugins for WordPress. If you need help moving your site, see our guide on how to move WordPress to a new hosting server without any downtime, and you may also want to see our handpicked list of the best Analytics Solutions for WordPress Users.