Forums are literally the heart of everything online. Starting from community discussions to commercial support – forum software enables a business to make a brilliant platform where the users can help themselves out.
Usually, a community manager, a couple of moderators are enough to manage the forums. From there, it’s a solo ride that just keeps on growing. Even though there are a lot of Reddit/Facebook communities, forums are still superior when it comes to troubleshooting/raising complaints and so on.
No matter what the purpose is (support/socializing), here, we list out the best Forum software that you can consider while building your own forum.
8 Best Paid and Free Forum Software to Create Discussion Forum
In this article about the best forum software, I’ll be listing the best paid as well as free forum software so that you can build your own discussion forum online.
So if one of your goals is to create an engaging forum online, then take a look at these paid and free forum software.
WordPress is a CMS platform that enables you to create and manage forums as well. No need to confuse yourself with what WordPress is – it just helps you manage content and build a website (when installed on your web hosting server like BlueHost).
So, it is not direct forum software- but it gives you the ability to have a forum on top and be able to manage that with ease.
There are numerous WordPress plugins (free and paid) to help you create a forum within WordPress. For instance, BuddyPress is one of the best ways to build and manage a forum on a site running on WordPress. In fact, TechReviewPro also runs on WordPress, if you are wondering.
Discourse is easily one of the best and most trending forum software right now. However, it’s not a free forum software solution, mind you. It supports numerous integrations, even with WordPress but it offers a 14-day trial period for free.
If you want to continue using it, you will have to upgrade the subscription of 100 USD/month at least. You can check out the pricing plan, if interested.
But, if we keep the pricing aside for a second, it is one of the best forums I’ve ever come across. The user interface, the user experience it provides, and the ease of management – it’s all right where it should be.
phpBB is a free and open-source standalone forum software that you can download or find it in Softaculous.
It is rather a robust forum solution while having a simple easy to use interface. It may look old – but it has got a lot of extensions for you to expand the functionality of the traditions bulletin-board style forum.
Also, it loads up pretty fast – even on a low-end hosting solution. So, if you’re just starting out building a small forum – you can surely try this.
If phpBB’s UI put you off – MyBB is an alternative to it. A great forum software that is free and open source. The user interface is very clean and easy to get comfortable with.
Unlike some other forum software, you can put some efforts to change the look and feel of the forums. It may not be easy to do that if you don’t know where to start – but surely you do not need to hire a professional, it will take a few days to explore.
As I mentioned about tweaking the design and theme, it includes a built-in theme editor which will help you utilize some presets and also customize it for further enhancements. Without spending a penny for the software, this is a great option!
Joomla is yet another CMS platform – similar to WordPress. Depending on the level of your expertise – it can be easy or difficult to get started.
It does provide everything you need to build a fully functional forum. You get plugins and 3rd party integration support for a lot of services on Joomla as well – just like WordPress. So, you do not have to worry about that.
If you are new to building web services, I may suggest trying out WordPress first. In fact, I have already created a detailed step-by-step tutorial for this. However, if you want a challenge to explore and get more things done – Joomla is sufficient.
6. Vanilla Forums
Vanilla Forums is an interesting solution for building a forum. They offer an open-source version – which you can download for free and do whatever you want to. And, a premium edition for enterprise users which focuses on giving some exclusive premium features (or experience) in addition to the technical management.
Unlike other forum software, Vanilla Forums also tries to incorporate gamification where users can level up by interacting and also have some powerful social features to make the forums an interesting place.
Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of this – it may not be the most popular around. But, sites like Acer and ZTE do utilize this and more users are coming on board as we speak.
If you are looking for open-source and free forum software that is light on resources while also providing a great user experience – this is it. I never heard about this before prior to my research for this article. But, the more I explored – it was impressive!
However, the only disappointing part is – it isn’t actively maintained anymore. But, if you are just building a forum with fewer users – and don’t want to update the forum software anytime soon, FluxBB’s last stable build should help you achieve that.
In addition to all these, considering it as an open-source project. You can try something of your own too.
Thought this was it? Well, we have another impressive forum software to recommend. It’s completely free and looks beautiful, don’t you agree?
However, with the free version, you do not get everything but limited to the basic forum features. If that’s your requirement, you can do that. But, if you want a full set of premium features and a beautiful interface, do check out the CODOFORUM’s pricing plans.
It’s also mobile-ready. So, you do not have to put extra efforts to make it responsive for mobile devices.
So, I would recommend going with these 8 best forum software available on the Internet. We have free and paid solutions depending on whether you are an individual or an enterprise.
But, if you want to explore more options, you can try different CMS platforms like Drupal to try building a forum.
Feel free to let us know about it in the comments below!