Ever wondered how to add a forum to WordPress website?
If yes, you have come to the right place. Keep reading. We’ll discuss everything about creating a WordPress forum here.
Well, making a WordPress website is super-easy at first place. And certainly creating a discussion forum on WordPress is super simple – all you need to know is how to install a plugin. Just pick the best WordPress forum plugin out there and install it. And, you are almost done.
Among all website platforms, WordPress platform has always been so generous and rich that there are multiple ways for doing one thing. You have thousands of themes and templates for design variations and so the huge number of plugins for various features and functionalities. No wonder there are multiple WordPress forum plugins to let you add a WordPress support forum easily.
So, I have carefully handpicked the best forum plugins for WordPress here so as to help you out choosing the most appropriate one for your site.
But before that, let’s discuss what a WordPress forum is and why it is important.
What is a WordPress Forum? Why do you need it?
Forums are one of the traditional ways of online communication however they are very effective and useful even today. A forum allows you an opportunity to create a virtual online community, connect, discuss, share ideas, and support each other. As a website owner, you can get your entire website users involved in the community and provide a chance to learn as well as contribute.
Well, WordPress platform officially endorses forums as most of the WordPress discussion, support is based on forums. Besides, WordPress has a grown as a massive worldwide community where WordPress forum plays a pivotal role in keeping and strengthening it. So no doubts, you might want to have a powerful forum on your WordPress website.
Here are some advantages of having a WordPress forum:
- Support: A WordPress forum provides a simple platform to provide support to website users/ your customers. Moreover, it works as and a question answers discussion board where you can answer the users’ queries.
- Social Networking: You can create a huge social network of the website users. It provides a platform where website users and everyone can involve with different discussions, share ideas, and network.
- SEO Value: Often underrated but forums can provide great SEO value in an unbelievable manner. Sometimes, forum threads have the most useful content like nowhere else so rank on the top of search results and bring lots of search traffic.
Well, there may be many reasons why you want to have a forum on your WordPress site if we keep listing. But above all, a simple and easy way of connecting and communicating with people makes it worth to have.
So, let’s discuss how to add a forum on WordPress website with forum plugins.
Best WordPress Forum Plugins for 2020
1. bbPress (FREE)
Undoubtedly, bbPress is the best WordPress forum plugin and the first of its kind. It is open source forum software which is made the WordPress way by the same people behind the WordPress software. Thus, the plugin will provide you an easy, simple, and speedy WordPress forum solution. It makes sure that your discussion forum is never slow, bloated, and the server hacked.
If you are already a WordPress user, you might have visited the WordPress.org forums. It means that you have seen how bbPress works. Similarly, ThemeGrill support forum is also based on this plugin. Hence, bbPress is for sure the first choice for a forum solution on WordPress.
Using bbPress plugin is very easy. You can easily install and set up the plugin to create a great discussion forum on your website. After activating the plugin, you can visit the ‘Forums’ menu and create some forums. It has separate pages for forums, topics, and replies.
- bbPress is the official WordPress plugin for forums and therefore it is built with the same coding standards as WordPress.
- It works flawlessly with any WordPress product (theme or plugin) that follows the WordPress standard guidelines.
- There are over 190 bbPress extensions/ plugins which let you add anything you like.
- It ensures seamless integration with BuddyPress which is another official WordPress community plugin. You can create a more advanced community with a forum, social network, open and private messaging using these two plugins together.
- The plugin is simple and minimal which may not be sufficient for creating an elegant forum. It requires you to install other extensions/ plugins.
Learn More/ Download bbPress Plugin
2. wpForo Forums (FREE + Premium Add-ons)
wpForo is a feature-rich and modern WordPress forum plugin. The plugin is suitable for small as well as large communities and all types of discussion forums. The plugin offers three different layouts: Extended, Simplified and Question and Answer Layout. The extended layout features a classic forum layout, the Simplified layout like its name has a light and modern design, and Question and Answer Layout is great for providing support by answering users’ queries. No doubts, it is yet another best forum plugin for WordPress.
The plugin comes with five wonderful premium add-ons. The available plugin add-ons are: Embeds, Ads Manager, Advanced Attachments, Private Messages, Blog Cross Posting. The free plugin along with these add-ons make it a perfect WordPress community plugin for building an awesome community.
To creating WordPress forums using this plugin, install the plugin from the official WordPress plugin repository and activate it. Next, the plugin will ask you synchronize users and create the user profile if you already have over 100 users. Then, you can easily add ‘Categories and Forums’, choose a layout, and customize further settings from ‘Forum Settings’.
- The plugin offers 5 add-ons for additional functionality and more add-ons are on the way. The extended features make this a complete community plugin for WordPress.
- It has three forum layouts and extended design options for displaying members, member profile and more.
- It takes a while to understand and start; not-beginner-friendly. Extensive settings and options available in the plugin may be confusing for the beginners.
Learn More and Download wpForo Plugin
3. DW Question & Answer (FREE + Premium)
DW Question & Answer is yet another WordPress discussion plugin for creating beautiful forums on your WordPress site. It lets you create powerful question and answer system like Quora or Stackoverflow on your WordPress website. The plugin allows the website users to submit questions, search, filter, answer, and vote the best questions/ answers.
The plugin uses a similar system like the WordPress posts that you can order the questions by tags and categories. Furthermore, it features follow a question and auto-receive notification option, sticky question, private/public questions and answers, Google reCAPTCHA, shortcode, etc. The plugin has 4 add-ons: Embed question and Social Sharing, DWQA Markdown, Leaderboard and Captcha.
DW Question and Answer plugin has a very neat and clean backend with minimalist design. After activating the plugin, go to ‘DW Q&A Settings’ and change general settings and notification settings. You can set notifications for a new question, new answer, and comments.
- The plugin is available in both free and premium version. So, you can first start with the free version and anytime switch to the premium version as your business grows or need a more powerful WordPress forum.
- The plugin is an open-source Github project which is making improvements and also accepting contributions.
- The plugin ignores advanced community options like member lists and member profiles.
Learn More and Download DW Question and Answer Plugin View Premium Version
4. Discussion Board (FREE + Premium)
Discussion Board is an incredible WordPress discussion plugin which is a good alternative to the other forum plugins mentioned here. It is an ideal solution for adding a discussion board, message board, question answer WordPress support forum etc. The plugin adds a new post type and lets you add front-end registration and login form. The website users can post questions and reply to the topics posted by others.
Unlike other plugins discussed above, Discussion Board has options to user roles like in standard WordPress settings. You can decide who has access to your discussion board; permission to post comment, view comment. The plugin works closely like WordPress membership plugins. In addition, Discussion Board features automatic setup feature, anti-spam fields, shortcodes, etc.
After installing the plugin, it automatically adds three pages i.e. login and registration form page, a page with a form to post new topics, & a page with a list of topics. It has a simple and user-friendly interface so that anyone can easily configure the settings easily.
- It is beginner-friendly. The automatic setup feature lets you an easy and quick option to start with.
- The plugin is available in both free and premium version. You can always try the free version first before making a purchase for additional functionalities.
- The free version of the plugin lacks the major features. Most useful features are available only on Premium version.
Learn More and Download Discussion Board Plugin View Premium Version
5. CM Answers (FREE + Premium)
CM Answers is a questions and answers plugin for WordPress. In other words, it is an amazing forum plugin for WordPress with an ability to create discussion forums where users can add questions and answers in a stack overflow style. It allows users to post questions, give answers, comment, vote the best questions/ answers, and also upload files.
As the website owner, the plugin enables you to control the user roles and capabilities. You can decide who can view and post the questions, answers, and comments. Besides, you can have moderation options by which you can decide whether the posts be auto-approved or need moderation. In addition, the admins can customize the questions and answers, filter the posted content, and also track the user actions.
After installing and activating the plugin, you can go to the ‘Settings‘ and customize the way you like. It has multiple setting tabs including general, appearance, thread, labels, moderation, access control, notifications etc.
- CM Answers plugin comes in both free and premium plans so you can choose one as per your need and budget. The availability of premium version and add-ons lets you an option to extend whenever you want.
- The free version of the plugin is too basic which requires you to purchase premium add-ons or premium version.
- The plugin has a bit complex admin page with several settings which make it less beginner-friendly.
Learn More and Download CM Answers plugin View Premium Version
Well, we have put together the top 5 plugins for creating WordPress forums but can’t dictate which particular one to choose. Now it’s all up to you. Take your time to study the plugin features and pick the one that best fits your needs.
Concluding, if you want a free simple solution, bbPress is surely the best one. Well, it’s not just ONE plugin now but the major one with more than one hundred extensions. So, there is barely any chance of not getting any feature you need.
Last but not the least, if you have a WordPress website, you may also find these plugin collections useful:
- 15 Best WordPress Plugins Essential for Professional Websites
- TOP 5 FREE WordPress Social Media Plugins
- Best 5 WordPress Contact Form Plugins
Have any thoughts?
Feel free to comment below. 🙂
31 thoughts on “5 Best WordPress Forum Plugins 2020: How to Add a Forum to WordPress”
I’m looking to create a site that is first and foremost a forum, encompassing various categories of interest that fall within the overall subject area that is the site’s focus. While I want the overall look to be on the clean minimalist side of things, I’ll be wanting pretty robust functionality and lots of useful features for both the administrator(s) and users (login captcha, flagging, moderation, embedded youtube player and Pinterest Pin widget for use within topic threads, user access to their personal activity history, and so on).
To be clear, my goal is not a social networking site. I picture the home page featuring a single blog post but virtually everything else on the page will be devoted to the forum itself.
My first question is this: As this site grows in membership and usage over time, which of the plugins for WordPress.org that you’ve recommended do you think would best serve me in the long run? Interestingly, some “add-a-forum” plugins like WPforo are apparently compatible with bbPress, so could that combination serve as a powerful one-two combination along with some additional useful third-party function-specific plugins?
My second question is this: It’s my understanding that each of the five candidates on your list are not themes in and of themselves, so they require that a WP theme be chosen. Considering what I want to accomplish in terms of the look and content, do you suggest I utilize a WP blog theme, forum theme, magazine theme, or something else?
Hi G. Thomas,
Thanks for reading our article!
To answer your first question, you don’t need bbPress and WPForo both (if we got your point, you’re asking if you can use WPForo, bbPress, and some third-party addons). You can choose any one of them as they serve the same purpose.
To compare these two plugins, you can check their use stats, reviews on WordPress.org. bbPress is the most widely used plugin (actively installed on 300,000+ websites). WPForo has fewer users, but its users love it. If you need to add extra features, then you can find addons and extensions for both plugins.
To answer your second question, ‘yes’ these are plugins only. You need a separate WordPress theme for your site’s design. And, it’s best to use a forum WordPress theme. You can check our article on the best WordPress forum themes for our recommendations.
what a great approach to convey your message to your audience.
I’m of the view BuddyPress is probably the best option as it’s maintained by the same great guys who create WordPress. It might lack certain things out of the box, but its simple and really stable.
Hi there, I have some dummy questions. First, why my domain has changed after installing a theme? I install a theme on domain ‘nameofdomain.com’ and after installation my domain is ‘username.mycpanel.com’???
What I can do now? Copy all content to nameofdomain.com folder or ?
Thanks for the reply…
We think it would be best if you contact your hosting service or the theme provider. 🙂
Thank you for the article. I work with club for tropical fish keepers. We’d like to add a forum for sales. Members would be able to post fish and other times for sale. The public could see the for sale list. Any suggestions as to which plug works best for a For Sale tpye fourm.
Thank you for this informative blog on “Add a Forum to WordPress”.
I found it really useful and I particularly like using bbPress.
That’s really good to know 🙂
Thanks for this clear “round-up” of choices.
I’m seeking the best solution for my training site (memberpress).
At all costs, I want to avoid the traditional look and feel of a discussion board (which I find, as a user, too much work and too disorganized and repetitive to wade through).
Instead, I’d like more of a social media look at feel — with profile pages, upvotes, private messaging, topics clearly organized (by training segments), notifications, etc.
From what I can tell, BuddyBoss is the best option for that. Do you agree?
Yes, if the features of the forum plugin suit your needs, then you should go for it. 🙂
I have a simple WordPress blog, a free one… And am I right that it does not allow to install any plugin? What is the minimum requirement to install their bbPress?
Yes, if you are using the hosting from wordpress.com, you have only limited features and can’t add WordPress plugins. However, you need to upgrade to business plans to install them.
Thanks for this intro to the plugins, very appreciated and very useful. I will try out your first recommendation!
It was useful for me.
Great post, Thank you
Thank you for this great article!
Finlay i found a forum plugin which is a FORUM, not just a pathetic view of a forum. I’m talking about the wpForo plugin you’ve mentioned in article. This is a REAL FORUM with professional functions, features and design. I want to congratulate WordPress that it finally got a professional forum solution.
I was angry on wpbiginar a few days ago reading their article about the best 5 forum plugins. Their article still sings a very old song about old outdated forums and they don’t even want to update it. That’s just terrible.
Thank you for being up to date and for introducing real good solutions for WordPress users!
Thank You Romno,
Glad you found our post helpful 🙂
Great post. Very useful information.
I do however have one quick issue. Is BBPress still the go to forum plugin for WordPress. As listed on the BBPress website the last update they put out was over a year ago. If you look at WordPress.org, the latest version was 8 months ago. But also is only tested up to WordPress 4.7.10 (with current WP v4.9.6).
Either way the authors are either being inconsistent or may no longer be making updates. In either case this could present issues going forward. It has always been a great forum plugin and integrations second to none. I just hope that the authors are not abandoning this great plugin.
Going to test out the WPForo and see how I like it. Hopefully it will go well. Thanks again for the great post.
Hey there! Do you know if they make any plugins to protect against hackers?
I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard on. Any tips?
Sorry to know about the problem you had to face. Yeah, there are several security plugins that serve in different ways and we have one post on that. Please check this post: https://themegrill.com/blog/best-wordpress-security-plugins/
Moreover, there are other security factors you have to look after. We have more posts on WordPress security. Please check them out: https://themegrill.com/blog/category/wordpress-security/
Hope this helps!
Thanks Sunita! Great info that putting in all the info.
Personally I like CM Answers
Thanks for putting together this post on WordPress forum plugins.
It is a great read. I particularly like bbPress.
Keep up these insightful posts.
I appreciate the detail in this article. Well written and too the point!
Glad to know Daniel. Thank you. 🙂
On Asgaros Forums: I would like to ad my support for this excellent Forum Plugin. It appears to be under constant development but, unlike some plugins, it is not trying to run before it can walk and the author is superbly supportive and responsive.
That said, beware of conflicts (and this doesn’t just apply to Asgaros Forum, but to all plugins). My Asgaros Forums stopped sending notifications after I developed the site some more, with added plugins, one of which appears to be interfering with the notification email sending function.
I would also like to see some plugins developed for this excellent product, to provide some of the missing functionalities as optional, premium features.
I certainly and strongly recommend it, if you should have a chance to review Asgaros Forum.
Thank you for your excellent article, madame.
Great post Sunita. Well! From my point of view I would like to add that the bbPress forum is too limited for advanced user. On top of it the forum is not fully responsive. DW Q&A is my best but this too is limited.
You miss one of the best: asgaros forum. Really simple like bbpress but with some interessting capability
Thanks for adding it. Hopefully, our readers will check out Asgaros Forum plugin too. 🙂
Hey Sunita Rai, you have written a great article. I am very much impressed with your posts. You have mentioned best forum plugins here. I am a daily reader of WPblog, WPbeginner and your themegrill and i appreciate you for putting such high efforts.
I am very glad to know that and thank you so much for writing it here. We will definitely try to come up with really useful articles in the coming days as well. Keep reading us. 🙂