How to create a forum website?

Web development

How to make a forum website?

A forum website is a place for communication between people united by common interests and ideas. On the forum, you can exchange information, examples of your work, photos, files. The forum can connect people by hobbies: fans, gamers, animal lovers, art, cinema, car enthusiasts, etc. Forums can be city, district, or can be created to communicate with residents of a particular house.

What is a forum website?

The concept of "forum" originated in ancient Rome and meant an area where people gathered to discuss news, problems, and concerns. It was also possible to buy and sell anything there, bargaining for the best price.

In the modern world, the forum is immediately compared with Internet technologies and denotes a platform for thematic communication. 

This concept means a kind of independent information site or a separate section of the portal. The site is intended for communication of visitors, exchange of opinions, receiving feedback and recommendations. There are often general ones among the thematic areas, where users simply communicate, make acquaintances, and share experiences.

You can call the site a club of interests, the main advantage of which is helping other users and the ease of finding like-minded people. The forums often use a rating system that encourages the audience to discuss actively. Site development is community development. In many aspects, the forum is similar to a social network, but it compares favorably with it in a specific topic or focus.

The principle of operation of the resource is simple: when a question arises that has not been previously discussed, a new topic is created with a description of the essence. Other visitors leave their answers. The creator and other users can clarify, supplement the information - group communication helps to reveal the topic from different angles, to get answers to the primary and additional questions. In addition to ordinary visitors, unregistered guests, the community is run by moderators led by the owner - administrator.

Types of forum sites

The reason for the creation of most information platforms is the subsequent monetization. Practice shows that such resources live longer than enthusiasts’ projects due to the need for regular maintenance of the forum, which is expressed in tracking new topics, cleaning the community from off-topic messages, advertisements or messages, and offensive issues. The more popular a project is, the more time and money is spent on maintaining it.

Monetization models of forum website:

  • advertising;

  • partnership programs;

  • sponsorship;

  • collection of donations;

  • branding - strengthening the authority of an organization or owner.

The project’s specificity depends on the choice of method, determining whether the forum will be a separate section of the portal or an independent resource. The first option is more common.

Forum website types

  1. Thematic professional: a forum about fishing, cars, children, fashion - all this presupposes the presence of a certain amount of expertise or experience from commentators.

  2. Project: used to achieve a particular result - the implementation of the project. Such sites are usually closed to outsiders.

  3. Infotainment: intended for communication, news dissemination, entertainment.

Forum website structure

  1. Tabular: strict tape-type hierarchy. Severe flood and flame moderation is required.

  2. Treelike: A hierarchy based on which message the response belongs to. Several conversations can co-occur in one topic, in which groups of users do not interfere with each other.

  3. Versatile: The most popular option, giving the user the freedom to choose between the structure. Such communities support both tabular and tree structures.

  4. Projects with a universal structure look the most attractive, but in this case, implementation becomes more complicated.

How to make a forum website?

The following methods carry out the creation of a forum-type site:

  1. ready-made CMS;

  2. constructor + hosting;

  3. custom development from scratch.

Let's consider each of the options separately.

Ready-made solution for a forum website

If you have a limited budget and time, you can use ready-made solutions for forum web development. Such solutions will help you save money, but as a result, you will end up with limited functionality and an outdated design.

This option is suitable for testing an idea.

We have compiled for you a list of the most popular ready-made solutions for the development forum:

  1. vBulletin is a commercial forum engine in the PHP programming language used to store MySQL data. The engine appeared in 2009 and was developed by Internet Brands Inc.

  2. Invision Community is a commercial engine for creating forums. The platform is written in PHP and uses MySQL for data storage (there is support for Microsoft SQL Server), is developed by Invision Power Services Inc, has the support and modification of community members.

  3. XenForo is a commercial forum engine based on PHP and MySQL. The CMS bases on the PHP framework Zend Framework. The creators are Cyrus Darby and Mike Sullivan, vBulletin forum programmers.

  4. phpBB is a free open source PHP and MySQL engine for building a web forum.

  5. MyBB is a free open source forum written in PHP and used to store MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQLite data.

  6. Discourse is a free open-source Ruby forum using the Ruby on Rails framework and PostgreSQL as a database.

  7. SMF is a free engine distributed as an open-source application. With the sufficient skill of the webmaster, it is possible to create a high-quality project that is not inferior to paid CMS.

  8. WpForo and BBPress are WordPress plugins available in the directory. They differ in ease of installation and speed of setup. Flexible customization of functionality is available.

  9. Vanilla is a convenient and straightforward paid CMS with simplified setup and debugging, developed on its framework. Has a convenient navigation system. Suitable for organizing corporate websites and full-fledged portals.

Constructor + hosting

You can create a forum website using the constructor. 

The vendor offers an end-to-end solution to minimize customer actions when launching a community. Website builders are based on visual editing tools that make it easier to customize and prepare a design. As in the CMS case, a set of ready-made solutions is offered on a paid and unrestricted basis.

This solution is suitable for newbies looking to get a forum up and running quickly. Almost all hosted designers assume payment for placement or place an advertising banner, which can be canceled when paying a subscription fee. Optimization options are severely limited. It is essential to choose a supplier offering favorable conditions for launch, taking into account subsequent growth - site relocation can be difficult

  1. 2x2forum. Free platform for creating a forum that does not require hosting. You can create your forum on a subdomain or using your domain or subdomain with a few clicks.

  2. Wix. It is a constructor for creating websites in a visual mode without programming knowledge. Wix is ​​the leading cloud-based website building platform with millions of users around the world. You can create a site and add a forum to it. Forum guests will be able to read and share posts on the forum. Guests must register to comment, add topics, like, follow, and report violations. You will be able to add and remove sections and posts, disable commenting on issues and attach them to the top positions of the areas.

Custom forum website development

Custom development of a website forum will allow you to create a unique product that meets the requirements and interests of users with modern design and monetization methods.

In this case, you need to think over the terms of reference for developing your forum website. Describe the most critical parts and elements that should be on the platform and what task each of them should perform.

As a result, you will receive a ready-made forum designed individually for your requirements and the target audience of your visitors. All that remains is to learn how to work with the forum itself without delving into the technical details.

Forum requirements

It is enough to put yourself in the shoes of a visitor, to look at the site through the user’s eyes. The main thing in the community is its benefit for the audience - without this, it makes no sense to count on the popularity of the resource.

Other community criteria include:

  1. convenience;

  2. clear navigation;

  3. engaging and relevant topics;

  4. live active communication;

  5. nice design.

At the beginning of community development, web admins often create communication by asking and answering questions under different nicknames. If the topic is attractive to the audience, over time, the site's traffic will increase, and the visitors will organize communication. It is essential to create at least a topic or comment per month, but the more often, the better - this is a demonstration of activity.

The forum is a platform where the content creators are the users themselves (UGC). With the growth of traffic, the speed of content generation grows. The primary source of traffic for communities is the search engine. How quickly the audience will succeed depends on. Therefore, considering the requirements for the site, one cannot fail to mention the criteria of search engines.

How to make an SEO-friendly forum?

Let's list the main requirements of search engines to the resource:

  1. valuable and unique content;

  2. clean code and clear structure;

  3. lack of Flash elements in navigation;

  4. absence of blank pages and links to them;

  5. correct design;

  6. behavioral factor.

By adhering to these simple rules from the moment of launch, it will be possible to save a lot of time on optimization during the site’s development.

Technology stack

Depending on the tasks and features of the forum, the developers will choose a programming language that will support and develop the project.

For example, the Sannacode developers use PHP and MySQL. In some cases, you can use a ready-made set of components that you can find on GitHub or use web frameworks: Laravel, Yii, Symfony, Zend Framework, Codeigniter.

For front-end development, you can use an HTML framework like Bootstrap. If we need to add dynamics for specific parts of the forum, we use jQuery or ReactJS.

Forum site marketing

To grow the audience and maintain the interest of registered users to the site, web admins use various incentives:

  1. monetary reward for reporting or assistance;

  2. account reputation;

  3. rating system;

  4. promotion of status;

  5. contests and promotions.

Using these simple tools is especially useful when launching a site - it is enough to convey information to the target audience and attract their attention.

Conclusion

The forum is a specific information-type platform where people gather to discuss various events, share experiences, get advice, answer a question, or just chat on free topics. The target audience of interested users is concentrated here, used for branding or monetizing the site. Advertisers willingly place ads on thematic resources due to high conversion, which means the relevance of the development.

The best solution for creating a forum is ordering custom development, which allows you to implement any features, ensuring a high-quality product.

The forum can be an independent and independent resource or add to the existing portal, which positively affects its ranking. The resource requirements are pretty simple: it is essential to ensure the site’s usefulness, convenience, and safety. Both search engines and users will appreciate it.

In the future, it is necessary to support the development of the community, follow open topics and comments. There are various incentive mechanisms used to engage users’ activity. It is essential to ensure quick filling of the resource with thematic content and valuable information.

You can order a development forum in Sannacode by filling out the form on the website.

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