Communities based on forums may seem a little outdated nowadays, but in fact they have a number of undeniable advantages for use in certain cases. Communication on the internet began with forums, but their long history does not make them useless and obsolete. Quite the opposite, for a long time forums have been able to hone their functionality and features to the extent that administrators and ordinary users feel the optimal combination of available features and an intuitive interface for working with them.
Community forums for WordPress are usually created and maintained via bbPress system. bbPress has three major advantages that distinguish it from a number of competitors: it is really lightweighted, fully integrated with the WordPress platform and easily customizable, even without knowledge in web development and design.
bbPress is ideal for two purposes: selecting a separate zone for thematic and free communication between users of your project and creating technical support forums for your customers. As a rule, these are exactly the goals pursued by WordPress administrators for their projects, so we will also focus on the features and capabilities of bbPress in the context of meeting the respective needs and requirements.
Today we will stop your attention at the bbPress platform for creating community forums: we will look at its functional features, customization capabilities, and additional features for connecting useful plugins. This guide can help you with creating and configuring your first community on the WordPress platform. We advise you to think about creating a place for communication of your users today, so as not to lose your potential audience tomorrow.
What Does bbPress Consist of?
bbPress is based on 3 custom WordPress post types. Each of these custom post types is a link in a simple hierarchy of a community forum. bbPress allows the administrator to create forums (which contain user discussions on thematic groups), topics (each with a specific discussion), and user responses. As you might guess, topics and responses can be created by users themselves, which is the basis for limitless possibilities of creating user-generated content.
Also bbPress provides several kinds of layouts, a set of standard shortcodes and widgets, CSS code to configure for experienced WordPress administrators. These features help to customize the look of your community forums and add the required additional functionality with shortcodes and widgets. The possibility of changing the CSS code gives unlimited opportunities for creativity, including with the help of special tools, eliminating the need to have special knowledge in the field of web development or design.
The standard and free set of bbPress features includes 19 shortcodes and a wide variety of widgets. Examples of the most used widgets are: forums list, recent topics, recent replies, search field, topic views list, login widget, overall and user statistics. For a complete list of available shortcodes visit official bbPress website.
Installation and Initial Setup
bbPress is a free WordPress tool, you can search for it directly from your admin panel (Plugins section) and download it directly to your site. You can also use the open repository for developers, if you are interested in in-depth work with plugin code. Some premium WordPress themes support the bbPress plugin’s download functionality via its own menu. In this case, you will not also have any problems installing this tool.
After installing and activating of bbPress, you will be able to see the new fields in the Settings of your WordPress admin panel. Pay close attention to two important settings: throttle time and anonymous posting. Throttle time adjusts the minimum gap in seconds between posts from one user. We recommend to put this indicator for 10-15 seconds to avoid spam and flooding from users. Anonymous posting allows you to leave comments without registering on the forum if the feature is active. We recommend deactivating this feature in order to motivate users for more polite and responsible communication.
When the most important settings are done, you can start creating forums using special bbPress post types. Also you can create important topics with information for users, for example, rules of behavior on the forum, rules for creating topics and so on. The rest of the content should be generated by the users themselves, if they are interested in your project as a whole and its audience as interlocutors.
At the setup stage, you should also pay attention to the connection of important shortcodes and widgets, which will ensure the usability of the community forums for your users. For example, it is important to connect the login widget so that each user can easily find the fields to log into the forum under his account.
Customizing CSS is also an important part of the future life of your community forums. If you still can not edit the CSS code yourself, then premium WordPress plugins for working with styles will come to your rescue. Examples of such tools are Yellow Pencil and CSSHero. Both tools will allow you to get almost unlimited access to the customization of styles through a visual interface, understandable even for novice WordPress administrators.
Important bbPress Add-on Plugins
Like any other part of the WordPress platform, bbPress is favorably distinguished by the ability to expand the functionality by connecting additional plugins. All the plugins listed below are free, so we recommend using them even if you are just starting out as administrator’s WordPress.
Ultimate Member bbPress Addition
Ultimate Member bbPress Addition allows you to extend the ability to work with registered users of your community. This plugin gives you the opportunity to customize the registration form for the individual requirements of your project, allows you to expand the functionality of personal profiles for each user and include the feature of special membership within the community. Working with accounts for users and administrators will be more convenient and more enjoyable thanks to this plugin.Explore Ultimate Member
bbp Style Pack
As you might have guessed from the title, the bbp Style Pack extends the design capabilities of your community forums. This plugin provides the ability to customize existing styles without borders and adds a set of templates for use on your forums. If you want to single out your community from the mass of competitors, then you will definitely need to arrange it in a unique style. bbp Style Pack will help you easily cope with this task.Explore bbp Style Pack
bbPress Notify (No Spam)
bbPress Notify is an automatic e-mail distribution that the user can self-connect for topics that interest him on the forum. When new replies appear, the user will receive an automatic notification to his email address. Such an instrument is mandatory for technical support forums, where each user is interested in getting the quickest possible response to their appeal. bbPress Notify will allow users to always keep an eye on the pulse of your forum events.Explore bbPress Notify
GD bbPress Tools
GD bbPress Tools is a set of interesting additional features for your community forums. GD bbPress Tools allows you to connect BBCodes to discussions in your community, use user signatures, activate additional custom views, use the in-reply quotes feature and many other useful trivia. GD bbPress Tools turns your forums into a full-fledged community where each user can show his or her individuality.Explore GD bbPress Tools
bbPress is not the only option for creating forums on the WordPress site. However, this tool is optimal because of its lightweight and full integration with WordPress websites, themes and other plugins. Using bbPress, you get additional opportunities for communication of users without the need to additionally configure the unknown platform of the third-party forum.