Before social media, community forums reigned supreme as the primary digital medium for customer-to-customer communication. Although social media has gained popularity, millions of people still use forums (such asReddit) to interact with other customers and discuss various products and services online. Companies use forums to engage customers and answer questions people have about their products and services. Users can openly chat and interact with other users who share their interests, queries and criticisms. In this post, we will see how you can create a forum website for your business. Then we'll provide some best practices you can use to leverage it as a customer service channel. The first step is to decide where you want to place your forum. This can be a page at the end of a URL, such as www.example.com/forum. Or it could be asubdomainwhich is at the beginning of a URL, such as forum.example.com. Where you choose depends on your current strengthweb hosting providerand how you organized andbuilt his website. After selecting a web address, the next step is to select acontent management software. This software creates your forum pages and allows you to create and categorize content. The right software makes all the difference, so be sure to choose one that matches the theme and features of your current website.
How to make a forum website
1. Choose a place to host your forum.
2. Choose content management software to build your forum site.
Before social media, community forums reigned supreme as the primary digital medium for customer-to-customer communication. Although social media has gained popularity, millions of people still use forums (such asReddit) to interact with other customers and discuss various products and services online.
Companies use forums to engage customers and answer questions people have about their products and services. Users can openly chat and interact with other users who share their interests, queries and criticisms.
In this post, we will see how you can create a forum website for your business. Then we'll provide some best practices you can use to leverage it as a customer service channel.
The first step is to decide where you want to place your forum. This can be a page at the end of a URL, such as www.example.com/forum. Or it could be asubdomainwhich is at the beginning of a URL, such as forum.example.com. Where you choose depends on your current strengthweb hosting providerand how you organized andbuilt his website.
After selecting a web address, the next step is to select acontent management software. This software creates your forum pages and allows you to create and categorize content. The right software makes all the difference, so be sure to choose one that matches the theme and features of your current website.
3. Organize your forum structure.
Before creating the pages, you should think about how you will organize the topics. It should be easy for customers to find what they are looking for, and your forum's navigation features should meet the needs of your visitors.
Start by identifying the topics you want to start discussions about. They can focus on solving problems with specific products and services, or they can be for general topics such as user ideas and solutions. You should also include a search bar, so visitors can skip categories if they are looking for a specific page. Organizing your forum in this way will help users navigate your site and find information relevant to their interests.
For example, inhammock for mothers, a forum for parents, the top navigation clearly shows which topics are covered and organizes them into sections. If you don't have a specific topic in mind, topics are organized by active conversations.
As you can see above, on the right hand side of Mumsnet there is a "Now Trending" section which contains a list of topics. So, in addition to navigation, the user can click on this button and see a list of topics in alphabetical order.
Another way to organize content is by popular and prominent topics. That's rightVisa Developer Community Forumit's handsome and one of my favorite forum designs. You can see the popular community topics and featured topics in the screenshot below.
Additionally, the Visa Developer forum has great navigation as it also features guides, blogs and webinars. Community members can collaborate with the communityeuse educational resources in one place.
Regardless of how you organize your content, your forum page should have these elements:
- search bar
- navigation menu
- Login/login button
- Popular community topics
- Widgets for upcoming events, latest blog posts, webinars or tutorials, if applicable
4. Create your forum topic.
Your forum topic should match the website around it. It should use the same colors, logos and layout as the existing content so that users are not confused when navigating to the new page.
Some content management systems offer themes to suit most website layouts. In the example below, users can choose from a variety of options when selecting a forum topic.
5. Create user rules for the forum page.
Visitors should feel empowered to participate in your forum discussions. To do this, all users will have to adhere to a set of rules that promote healthy and informative conversation. These rules ensure that discussions stay on topic and that everyone feels free to contribute.
Some examples of rules you can start with are:
- Be respectful even when there is disagreement.
- No swearing or discriminatory comments.
- No spam or self-promotion.
- No links to external websites or companies.
- No NSFW (not safe for work) content.
A great example of community rules comes fromEducational theater association.
As you can see in the screenshot below, the organization outlines its key rules, including how to engage in constructive and productive conversations. These rules are a great place to start.
In addition, the site also has a complaints and reporting process so that users know what to do when they see someone breaking the rules of conduct.
6. Start the conversation with interesting topics for discussion.
Before you post your forum, you should write some general discussion topics to get the conversation going. This will break the ice for new users, especially when your forum is just starting out. After all, it is much easier for users to comment on a post than to write their own.
7. Publish the forum on your website.
Now it's time to publish your forum. Make your pages live and link your forum home page to your main website. Users should be able to easily find your forum when they visit your brand's homepage.
8. Advertise to your audience.
Now that we've covered the technical steps required to create a forum, the next step is to make it an active community. Like an awkward high school dance, getting attendees involved can be a lot easier said than done.
Start by reaching and advertising to your most loyal customers. These people are genuinely interested in your brand and will be happy to join your forum. If you can get them talking, other visitors are more likely to join the conversation.
You can advertise to them by targeting them with social media ads or reaching out to them via email. You can also advertise your community on search engines. Think about all the ways you currently advertise your marketing campaigns and run a campaign for your forum.
9. Increase engagement with badges.
Of course, engagement is difficult to initiate. You don't want to manufacture it and make the conversations seem rushed. A great way to encourage engagement is to provide incentives.
For example, one incentive you can give is badges. When users regularly participate in your forum, reward them with badges that other users can see. Your most active users can be your "regular contributors" and will feel a sense of belonging by participating in your community.
10. Moderate user participation and answering customer questions.
Forums are living, breathing communities, and once you create them, you need to participate in them if you want them to thrive. This means that your company should host discussions and use the forum as an ongoing source of customer feedback.
Customer service representatives should be assigned to mediate your forum and answer customer questions. They must ensure that users follow the forum rules and answer all customer questions about their products and services. Not only will this help keep your forum active, but it will also give you a pleasant support experience.
11. Collect user feedback.
As your forum grows, it's important to collect feedback from your users. Ask them how they enjoyed the experience and where you can make improvements. This will keep users engaged and satisfied with the content and interface of your forum.
A great way to do this is to start a thread directly on your forum. You can link to the survey in this thread. Alternatively, you can also email all community members an NPS or customer satisfaction survey, just as you would when collecting feedback about your service organization.
Now that you have your forum set up, let's look at some best practices when using it for customer service.
Customer Service Community Forums
Direct customers to your key support channels.
Community forums are designed to encourage discussion, and while these discussions often focus on user hang-ups, troubleshooting your forum can sometimes be tricky.
In some cases, it makes more sense to deal with a customer through traditional customer service channels than to deal with them on a forum. Since anyone can comment on a public forum, it can be difficult to follow the ongoing discussion between you and the customer. Especially if it is a long-term relationship, transition from conversation to yoursHelp Centerorticketing systemit can help your team retain valuable information that will help them solve the problem faster.
Use screenshots and screenshots to demonstrate troubleshooting steps.
One of the benefits of using a customer support forum is that it's easy to include content that can put your troubleshooting steps into context. For example, you can include screenshots and screenshots that describe what the user needs to do to solve the problem they are facing. Now, when other users have the same problem, they can view your pictures and videos instead of sendingsupport ticket.
Track user ideas and workarounds.
Forums should encourage customers to provide honest feedback about your products and services. This will lead to valuable discussions that highlight areas for improvement in your business.
When you facilitate your forum, have your team track the ideas and solutions your customers suggest. You can even assign these posts to a specific forum thread, as in the example below.
Community forums are a great way to get feedback and interact with customers. When users are actively involved in your community, they will be more loyal and give your business new ideas.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in April 2020 and has been updated for completeness.
Themes: Knowledge base
- Pick a location to host your forum.
- Choose a software to create your forum website.
- Organize your forum's structure.
- Design your forum's theme.
- Create user rules for your forum website.
- Start conversations with interesting discussion topics.
- Publish your forum on your website.
- Choose a forum software.
- Define your forum's theme.
- Be clear about the rules.
- Encourage active participation.
- Promote your forum regularly.
- Enhance your forum with special features.
A forum consists of a tree-like directory structure. The top end is "Categories". A forum can be divided into categories for the relevant discussions. Under the categories are sub-forums and these sub-forums can further have more sub-forums.How do you organize a discussion forum? ›
Gather data about target audience interest in forum topic (e.g., focus groups, street polls, surveys). Invite speakers known to and respected by your target audience. Choose speakers who are members of your target audience. Provide contact number that individuals can call to ask questions.How much does it cost to host a forum website? ›
How much you should pay for web hosting largely depends on the amount of traffic you expect to see each month. While the cheap web hosting plans are typically the most attractive, you may need to budget up to $20 per month for top VPS hosting services and roughly $100 for a dedicated server hosting package.How do I create a free forum online? ›
- Enter your website name. Select a unique name for your forum website that can help your business stand out.
- Add preferred features to your website. Build a great forum website without any coding.
- Launch your website. Test your forum website and launch it.
Good discussion threads should be substantial but concise: convey only the information that is most meaningful and accessible to your classmates. Make sure to always re-read your response! A good habit is to copy and paste your thread into a Word document prior to posing to check for errors in spelling and grammar.What makes a successful forum? ›
Ensure registration for users is easy. Create a set of rules for forum members. Moderate when necessary. Focus on content quality and visitor engagement.How much does it cost to build a forum? ›
A web forum app usually costs $25,000 to build. However, the total cost can be as low as $30,000 or as high as $40,000. A web forum app with a low number of features (also known as a "minimum viable product", or MVP) will be more affordable than an app that includes all intended functionality.What are the three 3 basic website structures? ›
Three essential structures can be used to build a Web site: sequences, hierarchies, and webs.
Reddit. Reddit is both an online forum and a global social media network. Passionate users devote themselves to the conversation, with the best answers receiving an upvote. The platform itself is one giant online forum, with thousands of divisions into specific topics: AKA subreddits.Is it hard to create a forum? ›
The process of creating a forum is not difficult, but there are a few stages that must be completed. The procedure's difficulty is also determined by the type and size of the forum you intend to construct, as well as the site building tool you use for this reason.How do I make my forum more interactive? ›
- Create an onboarding process for your community. ...
- Create a guided video course about how to use your forums best. ...
- Encourage progress logs or other types of forums that require regular interaction. ...
- Spend time in the community yourself.
- Choose your forum topic.
- Select a forum name.
- Choose a platform for building your forum app.
- Decide on features and functionality.
- Design your forum app.
- Preview your forum app.
- Submit your forum app.
- Final Words.
Open Forum (OF) is a broad discussion of a topic with high levels of audience participation. Standard room set: head table & lectern for presenters, chairs in a row for attendees. Panel Discussion (PD) consists of experts presenting specific topics with limited audience participation.How do forum websites make money? ›
- Make money with affiliate commissions (here are a few tips to get started)
- Earn your income with ad networks (AdSense or MediaVine)
- Offer services related to your forum niche.
- Create and sell info-products.
- Sell paid memberships of your forum.
Reasonably skilled freelance web designers make about $75 per hour. This figure can vary, though, according to CSS-Tricks. Website Builder Expert estimates that the cost to design a website is $30 to $80 per hour, while the cost to actually develop the website is $100 to $180 per hour.
|Business Type||Web Design Costs|
|Small Business Website (Up to 16 Pages)||$2,000 to $9,000|
|Corporate Website (Up to 75 Pages)||$10,000 to $35,000|
|E-Commerce Website (Up to 1,000 Products)||$5,000 to $55,000|
|Website Application (Up to 2,000 Pages)||$6,000 to $75,000|
- No Spam / Advertising / Self-promote in the forums. ...
- Do not post copyright-infringing material. ...
- Do not post “offensive” posts, links or images. ...
- Do not cross post questions. ...
- Do not PM users asking for help. ...
- Remain respectful of other members at all times.
If you want to create a forum in Google, you can, but only through Google Groups. As you create a group in Google, you will be asked what type of group it will be; it's during this time that you can make the group into a forum. It's easily done, and afterwards, you can invite people to join it.
- From the Groups, welcome page, click Create Group.
- Enter the group's name and description.
- Select Web forum as the Group Type.
- Update the group's email address as desired.
- Click Create when you're done.
- Participate in online forums as you would in constructive, face-to-face discussions. ...
- Postings should continue a conversation and provide avenues for additional continuous dialogue. ...
- Do not post “I agree,” or similar, statements. ...
- Stay on the topic of the thread – do not stray.
Use specific examples to illustrate your points. Your initial response should be 200 to 300 words in length, cited in APA style, and is due by Thursday, Day 3.What is a good discussion structure? ›
A good discussion section includes analysis of any unexpected findings. This paragraph should begin with a description of the unexpected finding, followed by a brief interpretation as to why you believe it appeared and, if necessary, its possible significance in relation to the overall study.How do I attract people to my forum? ›
- Increase popularity of your site. ...
- Enable guest posting. ...
- Allow guests to view the forums. ...
- Mention the forum on all your pages. ...
- Create posts for popular topics. ...
- Start small. ...
- Participate on your forums.
A forum is an online discussion board where people can ask questions, share their experiences, and discuss topics of mutual interest. Forums are an excellent way to create social connections and a sense of community. They can also help you to cultivate an interest group about a particular subject.Do forum admins get paid? ›
How much does a Forum Moderator make? As of May 30, 2023, the average hourly pay for a Forum Moderator in the United States is $30.84 an hour.What is a Wix forum? ›
Wix Forum overview
Wix Forum lets you create a space for people to connect and share information with each other. Build and maintain a healthy community with powerful customization and moderation tools: - Customize your forum pages to look like traditional forums or modern social feeds.
Forums can build brand authenticity and trust, improve customers support, and increase the amount of customer engagement your business has. Forums are also good for SEO. There are a few platforms that you can use to create a forum.What makes a forum private? ›
An internet forum is any kind of online discussion board where members can discuss common interests and exchange messages. A private forum goes a step further by hiding its content behind a sign-up page so that only registered members can view and post content.
- Clear description of who you are.
- Contact page.
- Small chunks of information.
- Easy mobile navigation.
- Customer testimonials.
Why Forums are Still Relevant. As the numbers go to show, though many may be shouting about the death of forums, in reality this is simply not true. Millions of people utilise forums each and every day as a way to get answers, exchange advice, meet new people and simply have fun.What is forum web design? ›
A website design forum or community is a place where hundreds or even thousands of designers and developers can get together, communicate and discuss an idea, share the latest design drafts, and grow together.How do online forums work? ›
In a standard Internet forum, a user creates a post. That post can be accessed by other users at any time. Posts can contain questions, opinions, images, videos, links, and more. Users can respond to the post, which creates a dialogue other users can participate in, also called a thread.Why are forums no longer popular? ›
With social media becoming the dominant form of communication years ago, forums will fade further into obscurity as time goes on. This is because young internet users will learn from people around them that are older about social media, and the less they see forums, the less chance they'll think to sign up for one.What is discussion forum? ›
An environment where participants can pose issues for discussion and respond to any contribution, thus creating threaded discussions that can spawn a discussion tree where the discussion branches out in many directions or subthreads.What is a forum legally? ›
Primary tabs. A forum is a public place, especially one devoted to debate or public speech. A forum may also refer to the jurisdiction and court or other tribunal in which a dispute is heard. A “forum” in First Amendment law refers to the place in which a “speaker” speaks.How do you create an engaging community online? ›
- Set up an interesting overriding topic. ...
- Discuss your personal life. ...
- Communicate consistently and regularly. ...
- Avoid using research language. ...
- Use surveys when you can. ...
- See where they stand. ...
- Encourage journaling.
An internet forum is a space where people can share ideas and spark discussion on a particular topic. Having a forum on your website is a very good strategy because the contributions, comments, questions and answers add good reputation to any website.What apps can be used for forums? ›
- Wix Forum.
- Simple Machines Forum.
- Define your community purpose and goals.
- Create community guidelines and rules.
- Select a community hosting platform.
- Identify community stakeholders.
- Set up your community.
- How to build communities with engagement.
- Grow Your Online Community.
Social Squared is a Discussion Board App for Microsoft Teams Tab's and Microsoft Teams Personal Apps. Social Squared provides information workers the ability to post questions within relevant forums, and receive answers from their team.What are the two types of public forums? ›
Public forums being described in two types: traditional and designated. A traditional public forum is where speech/expression is supported by the first amendment and when the government's ability to regulate speech is reduced like a sidewalk or state park.What are two features of a discussion forum? ›
A discussion forum is hierarchical or tree-like in structure; a forum can contain a number of subforums, each of which may have several topics. Within a forum's topic, each new discussion started is called a thread and can be replied to by as many people as they so wish.What is the structure for public forum? ›
A Public Forum debate consists of 8 speeches and 3 crossfires, each with a time limit.
Welcome to the Google Groups Help Community
Whether you're at home, at work, or in the classr… Welcome to the new Groups Community Forum! Welcome to the new Groups Community Forum!
Online discussion forums, also known as World Wide Web forums, bulletin boards, or message boards, emerged in the mid-1990s and allowed Internet surfers to post and respond to messages on the Web. Since that time, discussion forums have become increasingly popular.What is a discussion website? ›
An online forum is an internet space structured around and dedicated to conversation, usually through posting questions, answers, and responses. Online forums do not usually happen in real time.How do I create an online service platform? ›
- Choosing a hosting;
- Choosing a framework;
- Creating an architecture;
- Buying a domain name;
- Adapting the product to devices and systems;
- Ensuring the security of the web platform;
- Choosing CMS;
- Maintenance and testing.
Why Forums are Still Relevant. As the numbers go to show, though many may be shouting about the death of forums, in reality this is simply not true. Millions of people utilise forums each and every day as a way to get answers, exchange advice, meet new people and simply have fun.
Google Forms is a free, web-based form software that's part of the Google suite of products, which also includes applications such as Google Docs and Google Slides.How do I create a free Google forum? ›
- From the Groups, welcome page, click Create Group.
- Enter the group's name and description.
- Select Web forum as the Group Type.
- Update the group's email address as desired.
- Click Create when you're done.
Google Groups is a great way to get started in creating discussion forums on your website. After making the group public and allowing external users to view conversations, you can embed it into Google Sites and use it as a forum like our Discussion Forum page. Anyone can join the discussion and post.What are the two types of forums? ›
Standard forums displayed in a blog-like format – General forums in which students can post multiple topics, which are then displayed in a blog-like format. Standard forum for general use – General forums in which students can post multiple topics and replies.What is an example of a forum website? ›
Reddit − Reddit is a social news collection of web content along with ratings, and the discussion forum website. Reddit's registered community members can submit the content on various topics in the form of text posts or direct links.What is the difference between online chat and discussion forum? ›
Chat rooms and forums are both methods to communicate with other people over the Internet, but are used in different ways. Whereas chat rooms allow you to communicate with people in real time, forums are more suited for discussions where not all participants have to be online at the same time.What is the purpose of online discussion forums? ›
From enhancing engagement to making thinking visible and helping build community, discussion forums can have a tremendous impact on your online course. As with any other course element, though, it's important that you implement forums carefully.