With your forum plan in hand, it’s time to proceed to the fun parts of creating a forum. The next step is to choose a forum software for your project and whilst it may seem effortless step, it requires a lot of forward thinking as the wrong choice may create a roadblock for your forum in the future. In this article, we will guide you through how to choose the perfect forum software for your project and what the best options might be.
How to choose a forum software?
The forum software that you pick is extremely important as your plans to run and improve it in the future can be massively impacted by choosing the wrong forum software. Want to add a blog to your forum? But what if your forum software choice might not allow it?
There are a couple of aspects that are extremely important when comparing forum software including:
- The purpose of your forum – Are you looking to create a support forum for your business? Or a community for a specific niche?
- The potential size of your forum – Whilst not many can accurately figure this out, certain software may be better at handling bigger forum sizes so if you’re planning on getting a large number of daily posts, it might be best to avoid certain software.
- Development skills – Do you have experience with coding? Or do you want an extremely easy to use software that takes care of everything for you? Some forum software allows you to simply pick and choose certain settings and does everything for you. Choose one that is perfect for you and won’t require you to meddle with any files if you don’t know how to.
- Additional features – Looking to have a points system? Want to incorporate a blog with your forum? It’s important to consider these additional features as not all forum software will have options that allow you to do this with your project.
- Your budget – And the most important aspect, your budget. If you can’t afford to pay for a premium forum software then, of course, you will need to choose a free option.
Make sure to keep an eye out for the Admin Loop Forum Software Comparison article where we will give you a clear report on everything about the top forum software available to you including what’s great and what’s awful. But here’s a little summary of some of the best forum software that might be suitable for you.
Top Free Options
A free and open source forum software that is widely used to power communities across the internet. MyBB is considered as one of the best free software for forums and allows you to easily extend it with plugins.
Pros & Cons of MyBB
+ With a large number of themes and plugins available (free & premium), you can truly customise and make the perfect forum for your online project. Additionally, with an advanced template editor, you have complete control over how you want your forum to look.
+ An easy to use and navigate administration panel means you won’t waste time trying to find a simple setting. Everything has been built with ease of use in mind and a large number of options gives you complete control over your forum.
– You will encounter a lot of spam as the integrated spam controls aren’t effective enough. However, this shouldn’t be a large con to consider as there are effective third-party plugins available to combat this
Another great free and open source forum software that is perfect for anyone looking to create a forum. With a large number of extensions available, phpBB will let you add a wide variety of new features to your forum. Additionally, with a large user base behind phpBB, you will be able to get help & support easily for any problems you encounter with the software.
Pros & Cons of phpBB
+ Extensive database of extensions to add new and improved functions to your phpBB forum
+ Out of the box notifications system is perfect for any forum.
– Unlike other forum software, you will be extremely limited if you would like to run other projects alongside a forum (for example a website).
– Managing your community can be complicated and cumbersome due to the rather complex system built for administrators and moderators.
– Lack of styles creates a real problem when trying to create a unique community as you will be forced to go for a custom theme to truly stand out.
Top Premium Options
XenForo is a premium forum software, considered as the best paid for forum software out of the current options. With an excellent administrator panel that is easy for beginners to understand and navigate around, XenForo is great for novices and experienced webmasters. Additionally, with their use of jQuery, the forum front-end feels slick and amazing to use as a forum visitor.
Price: XenForo will set you back $160 excluding VAT.
Pros & Cons of XenForo
+ A large number of great features incorporated into the forum software without the need for extra plugins including trophies, alerts etc.
+ Search Engine Optimization built into XenForo including human-readable URLs and more.
– The initial cost might be too much for some users including added costs for basic plugins and themes.
– Even with a premium or custom theme, you can usually tell that it is a XenForo forum as many generally look similar.
Pros & Cons of Invision Community
+ Official apps provided by Invision Community allows you to create the perfect community and site for your project including the ability to add e-commerce, blogs, gallery and downloads.
+ Easy to use admin control panel makes Invision Community perfect for novices or experienced users.
– Can end up being extremely costly with even initial & basic costs being much higher than other forum software.
Whatever your budget and whichever forum software that you go with, I’m sure that it will be a great solution for your new forum. As ever, if you have any questions or issues, feel free to leave a comment below, post on our Admin Loop Community forums or send us an email.