There are a lot of forum software out there and many of them are free. Many of these solutions have also been in development for years so the feature list shouldn’t disappoint you. But different developers may have different objectives and visions for their respective forum software, leaving you to decide what is best.
Although you can try and compare the different forum solutions available, coming up with a solution can still be difficult unless you really try these different software. That can be time consuming especially if you do not know how to set up a local test server. Here are a few nice features to consider that might help you make a final decision.
Forums are still being used today despite the rise in popularity in blogs and social networking sites. In fact, these types of systems are used a lot more than forums these days so it would help a lot if the forum software has good integration with these systems. For instance, you might find one particular forum software more attractive if it has Facebook integration where you can click a “Like” or “Share” button to further promote this particular post.
If your site already has a blog setup, see if the forum software has a feature or at least a modification that allows you to bridge the forum database with the blog database. This is useful if you want to give forum members their own personal blogs. Forum software that have good integration are usually easy to set up as well.
The index page of a typical forum site shows the header along with the main forum sections. It is less common to see things like the most recent posts and announcements or list of newly created topics. While you might find links to their respective content, a portal presents a friendlier overview of the latest forum activity.
Some forum software do not include portal capabilities because having a portal basically turns the forum solution into a content management system. This is still good because you can present more information to people that are visiting your forum for the first time. If the forum lacks portal capabilities, see if there is an approved mod for that and see if that looks good.
Easy Mod Installation
Modifications extend the capabilities of a forum software. Developers open up their forums to modding so they can keep their core features to a minimum. Adding too many features to a forum can make the forum bloated and sometimes sluggish in performance. With a modding system in place, administrators can choose which features to include. Although mod installation is easy in general, the steps involved can be tedious especially if the modification offers immense changes or improvements.
Some forum solutions simplify the process by automating most of the bits which can be useful if you find an attractive forum software with plenty of modification support.
Simple Admin Interface
As an administrator of the forum, you will be spending time creating the forum sections, checking statistics, promoting users, and recruiting moderators. If you haven’t used forum software before, consider a forum with a simple admin interface. Many forum sites provide samples of their admin panel so you can decide better.
Next, discover the best forum software here or learn about question and answer website software.