It’s easier than ever to build a forum thanks to the abundance of quality forum plugins for WordPress. With so many to choose from, it can be more difficult to find the right plugin than it is to build out your new forum. We’ve reviewed the top forum plugins to find the best options; whether you’re looking to create an entire online community or a user-generated help center, we found the best forum plugins for WordPress based on the most important factors to businesses.
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Top Forum Plugins for WordPress 2020
(Best Overall) Businesses that want a feature-rich forum plugin for free
Best for advanced users building a highly custom forum or community, like Facebook
Best for design-forward businesses looking to build a modern-looking forum
Best for businesses building a member-based forum with paid subscriptions
Best for creating a user-generated help center
How We Evaluated the Best Forum Plugins for WordPress
Forum plugins for WordPress are designed to make it easy for users to make a forum website. However, they all offer slightly differing features, from ease of use and price to theme compatibility and features such as the ability to offer paid memberships. We evaluated the top forum plugins for WordPress to find the best overall options for businesses—regardless of what you’re looking to achieve with the plugin.
The criteria we used to evaluate the best WordPress forum plugins include:
- Ease of use
- Features (e.g., membership options)
- Theme compatibility
- Ability to monetize
- Availability of support
Based on the criteria above, the best overall forum plugin is Asgaros Forum. It’s the highest-rated forum plugin for WordPress with a near-perfect rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars. It’s a flexible, yet powerful plugin that can easily be customized to suit nearly any type of forum a business is looking to build.
Asgaros Forum: Best Overall Forum Plugin for WordPress
Asgaros is a lightweight, yet feature-rich forum plugin that can easily add discussion board functionality to any WordPress site. What sets it apart—and what users love most about it—is that it is so user-friendly that it’s great for those who are new to WordPress and advanced WordPress users alike. It has an unrivaled 4.9 out of 5-star rating without any 1- or 2-star reviews. It’s the most rave-worthy forum plugin, making it the best overall for businesses.
There are no premium extensions available
Lack a custom redirect option for after login
Modern-looking out of the box
Fewer SEO tools than other plugins
Asgaros Forum Plugin Pricing
Asgaros is a free forum plugin. Unlike most plugins that offer both a free and premium version, Asgaros does not offer a premium version or premium extensions.
Asgaros Forum Plugin Features
Asgaros is a feature-rich plugin that offers users a modern-looking and powerful editor. It can be used to build out a comprehensive online forum with profiles and member lists along with extra features such as the ability to do things like add reactions to posts similar to Facebook reactions, conduct user-generated polls, easily change user access roles, and manage ads. It’s also multisite compatible and supports multiple languages.
Here are the most popular features of the Asgaros Forum plugin:
- Modern and powerful editing interface
- Profiles and members list
- Search engine optimization (SEO)-friendly
- Ability to add reactions
- Built-in polls
- Ads management capability
- Easily update moderators, permissions, and user groups
- Supports multiple languages
- Multisite compatibility
bbPress: Best for Building a Customized Forum or Community
The staple in forum plugins is hands-down bbPress. It was the first—and remains one of the top—forum plugins for WordPress. It’s versatile, easy to use, and it’s compatible with any WordPress theme. Since it’s so well-established, there are tons of extensions available, so no matter what feature you’re looking for, you’ll likely find it with bbPress.
Easy to use
Limited design options
Compatible with any theme
It’s not feature-rich out of the box
Hundreds of extensions available
There’s a free lightweight version available, as well as an array of paid extensions. Depending on what type of forum you’re building and the features that you need, you will likely need to get extensions as the free version doesn’t come with a ton of features out of the box. Pricing varies by extensions, and there are a number of free extensions for bbPress.
The bbPress plugin was designed to be simple by default. However, don’t let its simplicity fool you—with over 200 bbPress integrations and extensions available, it’s one of the most powerful and versatile forum plugins. For example, it offers seamless integration with BuddyPress, the leading social network plugin, and can be customized to suit any needs using the available integrations.
Here are the leading features of bbPress:
- Official WordPress plugin
- Easy to set up
- One-click installation
- Seamless integration with BuddyPress (for creating a social network)
- Multisite forums
- Over 200 integrations available
- Lightweight and fast
wpForo Forum: Best for Creating a Modern-looking Forum
wpForo is a top-rated forum plugin with a high 4.8 out of 5-star rating on WordPress and over 30,000 active installs. It’s an easy-to-use plugin that offers modern and responsive forum layouts. While it’s versatile enough to serve as a small discussion board, it offers more advanced features, making it best for those building out a comprehensive online forum.
Not the most beginner-friendly
Most will need to purchase add-ons
Some users report that it slows page load speed
wpForo Forum Pricing
The good news is that wpForo forum plugin is free to use. However, the bad news is that most users will find that they need to purchase add-ons for additional features in order to get all the functionalities they want, which cost around $11 to $95 per year. So while wpForo can be a very low-cost forum plugin for some, others may find that it can quickly become expensive depending on which features you need.
wpForo Forum Features
The leading feature of wpForo is its modern forum interface and quality forum layouts. It also includes some great features such as member ratings, where forum members can be ranked based on, for example, the number of forum post contributions and the ability to upvote users’ answers (similar to the world’s largest forums, like Reddit). It’s also very versatile with access roles, multilanguage, and third-party plugin integrations, such as BuddyPress and Ultimate Member.
Here at the top features of wpForo:
- Modern interface
- Member ratings (e.g., based on the number of posts)
- Ability to upvote answers
- Built-in SEO tools to help your forum get found
- Easily change permissions and access roles
- Supports multiple languages
- BuddyPress integration
- Ultimate Member integration
Simple:Press: Best for Subscription-based Forums
Simple:Press, as its name suggests, is a simple yet powerful forum plugin. It offers users a wide range of both free and premium features, from post threading and private messages to monetization with subscriptions. It’s an easy-to-use plugin with a modern and intuitive interface that gives businesses a headache-free way of building a new forum with all the features necessary to scale the forum as it grows.
Paid membership feature
Support is not available with the free version
Comprehensive member manager tools
The premium version is on the expensive side
Create public and private forums
Simple:Press has a free lightweight version as well as a premium version for $99 per year for one site. One top of the premium version, there are also add-ons available to extend functionalities, which cost around $19 each.
Simple:Press offers a long list of free and premium features that enable businesses to easily create and scale a forum. Some of these features include the ability to monetize your forum with subscriptions, the option to make forums private, fun user engagement tools like ranks and badges, extended member profiles, private messaging, multilevel forums, post threading email notifications, and forum statistics.
Here are the most popular features of the Simple:Press forum plugin:
- Monetize your forum
- Ability to make a forum private
- Forum ranks and badges
- Built-in SEO tools
- Image thumbnails
- User defined signatures
- Includes Avatar and Gravatar options
- Search options
- Forum stats (e.g., online list)
- Custom icons for groups and forums
- Extended member profile options
- Email notification of posts to admins
- Multilevel forum structures
- Post threading
- Private messages
WP Discussion Board: Best for Building a User-generated Help Center
WP Discussion Board is a top-rated forum plugin for WordPress with a high 4.7 out of 5-star rating. The best part of this plugin is that it’s easy to use and offers features like front-end registration and login, which makes it simple for your site visitors to become forum members. It’s an ideal solution for businesses looking to add a simple, yet user-friendly forum to their site, such as a user-generated help center.
The free version offers limited features
Offers its own theme
Some users have reported that it can be glitchy with some themes and plugins
Highly rated support
WP Discussion Board Pricing
The plugin offers a free, lightweight version sufficient for building a simple forum. For additional features, you can upgrade to a premium plan, which is competitively priced at $49 for one site or $89 for unlimited sites. It also offers a 14-day money back guarantee for premium plans, so there’s no risk in testing it out.
WP Discussion Board Features
WP Discussion Board offers a long list of user-friendly features designed to help WordPress users of all skill levels build a forum. From one-click installation to get you started quickly and “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) editing to front-end user registration shortcodes, it includes what you need to build a discussion board or help center.
Here are the top features of the WP Discussion Board forum plugin:
- One-click installation
- Front-end registration and login
- Multiple shortcodes available
- Create subforums
- User profiles
- WYSIWYG editing
- Media uploads
- Categories and tags
- Advanced permissions and user roles
- Built to reduce spam
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I install a WordPress plugin?
All it takes is a few simple steps to install a WordPress plugin. Start by logging in to your WordPress dashboard. From there, go to “Plugins” in the left-hand vertical menu. Click “Add New” and use the search bar to find your desired plugin. After locating it, click the “Install” button, and then click the “Activate” button. Follow the step-by-step instructions on how to install a WordPress plugin.
How do I get traffic to my website?
Getting traffic to your website takes time and work, but there are a lot of easy things you can do to help your site get found online and generate visitors to your site. These include adding your site to relevant online directors such as Yelp, Tripadvisor, and Houzz, creating social media profiles and location tags, and creating a Google My Business Account and submitting your sitemap to Google. Check out the more effective and affordable website marketing strategies.
What is the best way to build a website?
The best way to build a website depends greatly on your unique needs. If you’re building your own site, you have two main options: either use WordPress or an all-in-one site builder, such as Squarespace or Wix. In general, WordPress is the most customizable and lowest cost, but it also comes with the steepest learning curve; site builders are the easiest to use, but cost a bit more. Get more information to find the best platform for your small business website.