12
 min read

How to Create a Forum with a Template

Find out how to create a forum website with this step-by-step guide + best practices and examples of great discussion board websites.
Written by
Francisco Opazo
Last updated
June 7, 2024

Creating a forum from scratch can sound daunting. You might think you don’t have enough hours in the day to build one or enough money in your budget to hire a developer to do it for you. 

In that case, we’ve got news for you. You don’t need money or much time to create a forum to help you profit from an enthusiastic community

We built one for the sake of this article, and it took us barely 30 minutes. Add to that some more time for personalization and playing around with the features on your part, and you’d still be looking at an hour or two. Not to mention, it didn’t cost us a dime.  

Before you tell us to cut to the chase – here's a practical guide on how to create a forum website, complete with a free template, real-life examples and best practices.

How to create a forum with a Bettermode template

bettermode template options

Bettermode is a web app builder you can use for free forum creating. 

Our forum software gives you all the tools to make awesome static or dynamic websites even without any coding knowledge.

Plus, there's a built-in CMS which comes in handy if you plan to extend your forum page and create a knowledge base to go along with it, where you will publish content regularly. You get a custom domain, secure hosting and an intuitive admin area.

Now let's see how it works in practice:

  1. Decide on your forum's theme. You could use our EarthGuardian, Enjo or Saasplex from our library. We'll go with the latter as it's the perfect starting point for companies that want to grow customer-focused communities with access to key resources, feedback sharing and interaction with other community members. This is what the main page looks like without any personal touches.
saasplex
  1. Customize. When you press "C" on your keyboard, you'll be transported here to the editor panel. On the top left, you can see how your page will look on different devices.
customize bettermode template
  1. Modify your forum’s building blocks. The vertical menu on the left consists of your website’s blocks you can rearrange, delete or add more from the design studio. Some other options include these sections:
  • Introduce yourself
  • Ask the community
  • Events
  • Wishlist for product ideas
  • Groups
  • Product updates
  • Roadmap
  • Troubleshooting
  • Members profiles
  1. Personalize appearance. Once you have all the sections you want logically sorted, you can play around with the design in the Appearance editor (the three overlapping circles sign on the menu on the far left) of our awesome forum software.

Here you have options for:

  • Adding logos
  • Changing themes (light, dark, dual and any colors you like)
  • Switching font packs for your whole website
  • Modifying components' styles (corners, borders, action buttons, avatars, icons)
  1. Sort out the formalities. The last step would be to sort out all your security measures and forum settings. We offer plenty of options in this regard, as well. Click on the cogwheel icon to get to options for establishing things like:
  • Access permissions
  • Media attachment limits
  • Authentication of new users
  • Messaging between members
  • Moderation alerts and AI spam detection
  • Language and localization options
  • SEO settings
  • Password strength and CAPTCHA requirements

… and you’re done! That's all the basics of your new forum complete. 

Bonus step: Feel free to take it to the next level and browse our additional professional features like:

  • Native CMS
  • Member profiles and badge management
  • Reports and analytics about forum members' engagement and website performance
  • Apps and integrations

The end result could look something like this.

Just a side note – Bettermode has plenty of other use cases, like:

It currently has 14 templates for various use cases (11 more are coming soon). However, feel free to start building your forum website from scratch if you have your own vision for it – you don’t have to start with a template, although note that that could take longer.

3 examples of forums

The Bettermode builder already includes a template for an online community forum based on awesome real-life portals. However, if you need more inspiration for creating your own website, take a look at these examples.

Upwork Community

Source: Upwork

Upwork, the work marketplace, has a Community section for registered users with valuable resources for members, including:

  • Thematic forums (e.g., New to Upwork, Support, Profile Feedback, Freelancers, Issues and Workarounds)
  • Groups (sorted by location, industry, interests etc.)
  • Academy
  • Blog
  • Help Center
  • Upcoming events
  • Sorting by recent forum activity, recently solved issues, unanswered and trending topics, learning paths

They included Community Guidelines and Trust & Safety policies. It's always a good idea to ensure everything is friendly and professional. They also have a search bar at the top of the page that lets users easily find the information they need without browsing through topics.

Stack Overflow

Source: Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow is a huge online question-and-answer platform for developers. You could compare it to Reddit or Wiki, but it focuses on computer programming topics and is a place to exchange high-quality knowledge between professionals.

Here's what we like about it:

  • Clean, minimalist design that facilitates easy navigation
  • Specific niche target community
  • Reputation system
  • Upvote/downvote for answers that allow spotting the most and least helpful ones
  • Keyword tags for categorization
  • Strong moderation that results in a professional and respectful environment

LEGO Ideas

Source: LEGO Ideas

LEGO Ideas is a community portal where enthusiasts submit their creative designs for potential new sets. Users can share their projects, vote for the best ideas system and participate in building challenges. 

The platform is a way to connect with fellow LEGO fans and practice creative skills with thematic activities and challenges. Engagement is fuelled by gamification and the prospect of turning your set idea into an official product which sparks a sense of ownership and a closer relation with the brand.

LEGO Ideas stands out as a good forum example because of its:

  • Well-organized, visual structure
  • Focus on user-generated content fostering creativity and engagement
  • Product idea submissions with a voting system to support the best projects that can be turned into real LEGO products
  • Clear community guidelines and active moderation
  • Gamification and recognition with badges for achievements and showcasing exceptional contributions
  • Educational and inspirational content aligned with LEGO brand values
  • Multilingual support encouraging diverse, global participation

Best practices when building your forum

In this section, we listed practical tips (with real-life examples!) to make your forum a pleasant experience and a welcoming space for all your community members. Dive in!

  1. Design tips 
  • Stick to a user-friendly interface.
  • Make the layout clear, clutter-free and responsive on all devices.
  • Use consistent branding across all your websites for a cohesive user experience.
  • Include clear menus, search engines and breadcrumb trails to help users find information easily – that way your forum will double serve as customer self-service software.
  • Use clear and motivating calls to action for registering, posting and interacting with other users.
  • Ensure the forum page is accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Use readable fonts and sufficient contrast between text and background.

Source: Adobe Community

  1. Structure tips 
  • Use clear, descriptive names for categories to help find what they need.
  • Assign moderators to monitor discussions, handle disputes and enforce rules.
  • Pin important content, such as rules, guidelines and major announcements, to the top of relevant sections.
  • Establish community platform guidelines to maintain a respectful and productive environment.

Source: Apple Support Community

  1. Engagement improvement tips
  • Implement a system to reward active participants with badges, titles and incentives.
  • Use analytics tools to monitor forum activity, popular topics and user engagement to find areas for improvement.
  • Regularly gather feedback from users on how to improve the forum experience.

Source: Spotify Community

  1. Forum categories examples

Organize the forum in a logical hierarchy with broader categories and sub-forums. Here are some examples of headings and what to include in them:

  • Announcements: Company news, updates, important announcements
  • General Discussion: Off-topic conversations, interests, jokes
  • Customer Support Forum: Sections dedicated to problem-solving and technical issues for each of your products or services
  • Feedback and Suggestions: A place for users to share comments and ideas for improvements
  • Knowledge Base/FAQs: A repository of helpful tips
  • Welcome Section: A step-by-step on how to get started with guides on using your product, service or the forum website itself

Source: Atlassian Community

  1. Key successful community elements

HBR identifies these aspects which you can apply to your public forum:

  • Shared purpose and values
  • Simple and accessible value consumption
  • Easily navigable value creation
  • Defined incentives and rewards
  • Accountability
  • Diverse participation guided by good leadership
  • Open and objective governance and a sense of ownership

Source: GitHub Community

Conclusion

No need to rack your brains (and pockets) thinking of how to create a forum. You can build a functional space for your community to connect and grow entirely for free. If you follow the guide from this article it shouldn’t even take you a day to get it up and running.

Bettermode has your back when it comes to building a community platform (or any type of website, for that matter). It’s a simple, no-code tool for creating an aesthetic, modern, intuitive forum website. 

You'll enjoy its practical templates for different use cases and its drag-and-drop interface that offers endless customization options.

Get started, it's free!

FAQs

How much does it cost to create a forum?

You can create a free forum with Bettermode. If you ever need access to richer features, you can upgrade to the affordable Lite (from $19/month), Pro (from $49/month) or Business plans (from $99/month).

What is a forum example?

We described these forum examples in more detail above: Upwork Community, Stack Overflow and LEGO Ideas.

How do I open a discussion forum?

Opening a discussion board with Bettermode is super easy. Sign up to use the free website builder and get started with our ready-to-use templates. Once you've personalized it using our intuitive drag-and-drop builder, publish it to turn it into a working public forum.

Francisco Opazo
Head of Growth & Community, Bettermode

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