Building a web forum can help improve visitor engagement and attract more readers, regardless of whether you’re running a simple blog or an online business or want to showcase your professional portfolio. Even before the internet existed, people would post notes in designated areas, and these bulletin boards were a great way to communicate and share information.
When online forums emerged, communities developed around them, leading to better lead opportunities, increased sales, and improved traffic, SEO, and customer retention. The majority of business owners say user-posted content on forums can help improve their offerings.
Hundreds of millions of people all over the world use online forums to talk about sports, politics, celebrity rumors, parenting, and every other subject imaginable. This guide explains how to build a web forum and leverage it to drive traffic and, potentially, revenue.
Choose a web hosting plan
Online communities and communication methods power a number of well-known brands across interests and industries. For example, Reddit is one of the top five most-visited websites in the world. It has almost 140,000 active communities and 21 billion page views a month.
A forum that’s not backed by solid technology will suffer from low loading speed and downtime due to increased traffic and interactions. One of the main factors in finding the perfect mix of security, speed, and scalability is web hosting.
The best hosting providers combine intuitive technology and affordability. Examples of the former include domain registration, one-click software installations, and email notifications.
The good news is that you don’t have to spend much to run a forum website. You can bring your expenses down to several dollars a month for web hosting, combined with visitor-driven oversight and open-source software.
However, inexperienced forum owners and businesses might have to spend some more to upgrade to a better hosting tier, buy a hosted forum program, and perhaps even hire moderators and developers to manage the forum’s users.
Choose your software
Once you’ve chosen the right hosting type and plan, it’s time to choose the software. It’s very hard and time consuming to create an online forum system from the ground up. It’s better to download and install a program to deal with that for you.
Here are a few popular free software programs:
- Simple Machines Forum
bbPress, in particular, stands out on this list. What is bbPress, you’re wondering? It’s widely considered the best software for WordPress forums. Its PHP forum software was coded from scratch to augment WordPress’s support forums. Since then, it has been available as a plugin.
There are quite a few platform options targeting all kinds of communities and website owners. For example, people who choose WordPress tend to use open-source programs, while businesses opt for premium options so they can customize and configure their forums’ features and functions.
Themes, designs, and rules
After installing the software, you can proceed to choose a theme, set up forum rules, customize the design, and establish user permissions. You need to publish a text on the standards for membership, self-promotion, spam, external links, moderation, etc., in a visible place. This will also let you test the software from your visitors’ perspective.
Identify discussion topics
It’s not always obvious what types of conversations your users will have. Identify a few main topics and categories, then start preparing a structure so discussions can commence. You can start a category for popular sports like basketball and baseball if you’re building a forum for an athletics program. Your subcategories could revolve around the current season, finding tickets, recruiting, etc.
You should ensure you know the subject matter and your audience so you draw attention to topics visitors really care about.
Creating a welcoming environment that motivates users to engage is not an easy task. Your space should eschew harassment and reward valuable contributions. Enforce your rules and remove users who don’t follow them at once.
If only several users are reading and posting, your online community won’t survive long. Contact potential posters to market your message board. If you plan to add a forum to an existing site, inform your visitors of the new community. You can also promote your forum on search engines and social networks.