One of the best ways to drive engagement is to build a sense of community around your website. However, there are many ways to do that. If you’re not sure how to get started, it’s worth considering starting up a forum.
An online forum can provide a lot of additional engaging content for your audience, much of it user-generated. It’s also a place for visitors to interact with you and with each other, helping you build trust and long-term relationships with your audience members.
In this article, we’ll take a quick look at why forums are such a valuable tool. Then we’ll introduce the open-source phpBB software, and offer some advice for getting started with it. Let’s get to work!
An Introduction to Online ForumsForums have been popular on the internet since as early as 1994. They provide information in the form of user-created posts, allowing members to comment and interact with one another. Typically, topics are arranged into threads based on their subjects, making it easy for newcomers to find what they’re interested in:
Forums can drive engagement with your audience in a variety of ways. They can:
- Add quality content to your website
- Form a sense of community around your brand
- Answer readers’ questions
- Attract new audience members, readers, and/or customers
An Introduction to the phpBB Forum SoftwareWhile there are many forum-building solutions, let’s look at one of the most popular options. phpBB is a free, open-source tool:
phpBB offers a lot of useful features. For example, it enables you to set up any number of forums and categories. In addition, you can assign specific permissions to different forum members, which makes it easy to assign moderators and create various user groups.
As its name suggests, phpBB is written using the PHP programming language. That and the fact that it’s open-source makes it a fully customizable piece of software. What’s more, there are a host of community-built extensions that you can download and purchase to further extend its feature set.
All in all, phpBB is a feature-rich option for running a forum, either as a standalone project or connected to your existing website. It’s easy to find online help from developers, and the styles database has hundreds of packages to choose from to make your forum look unique.
The best way to decide whether to use a specific tool is to see it in action. With that in mind, let’s walk through how to use phpBB to create a brand-new forum. Before you begin running a forum on your website, it may be a good idea to contact your hosting provider to make sure your site meets...