Forums are a great way to create a community of people. This is where they can discuss issues, share skills, or talk about your company’s products. Forums are able to keep your visitors on your website. But this is not all — let’s discuss more benefits of forums, see some best forum website examples, and review how to create a forum on your Drupal 8 website.
Benefits of creating a forum for your website
Having a forum, also known as a discussion board or bulletin board, on your site can be useful in many ways:
- Understanding your customers: A forum is a place to get to know your customers, which is great for market research. Discover their feedback, issues, questions, and needs about your products or services. You can also study their user personas, improve your products, and brush up your marketing strategy.
- Helping your customers: A forum enables you to resolve your customers’ issues in the form of official customer support or an unofficial advice board.
- Increasing website traffic: Forums help you engage and retain your website users. They keep coming back to your site, especially if they need an answer to their particular question. The average session duration, just like the visit rate, increase thanks to the activity.
- Boosting your SEO: If you create a forum on your website, you boost your SEO. Nested discussions built around more general topics and leading to more specific ones work great with search engines. Google also loves exact questions — if a user asks a question that is addressed on your board, the chances are high they will arrive on your website. In addition, you will automatically have fresh content being created.
- Inspiring purchases: Discussions of products or services are the first stage of the buyer’s journey. When your prospective customer sees other customers’ comments, photos, videos and more, it may bring them a step closer to the buying decision.
- Monetizing the forum: An additional benefit you can have from creating a discussion board is monetizing it. There are several ways to monetize a discussion board including subscription fees, advertising, donations from users, affiliate programs, sponsorship and more.
Famous forum website examples
There are plenty of famous examples out there to see what a good discussion board looks like. Let’s look at a few.
How to create a forum on your Drupal 8 website
If you have a website created with Drupal (or plan to get one), there is great news for you — the forum functionality is already built-in!
The core Forum module
There is a core module responsible for creating forums. It is turned off by default and needs to be enabled for those who want it.
Creating categories and subcategories
You decide what hierarchy structure your discussion board will have. In “Structure,” there now is a “Forums” tab that enables you to add forums and containers. Containers can be used to group related forums together.
The module also provides a ready-made forum “General discussion” that we can rename or delete.
Your discussions can have categories and subcategories, aka parent and child forums. For example, let’s create a forum called “Drudesk services.” It is going to be the main one and, in its settings, the “Parent” is set as “root.”
Let’s add a couple of subforums (e.g. “Drupal development” and “Drupal support.” The procedure is the same (the “Add forum” button). The only difference is that we need to set the “Parent” as “Drudesk services.” Next, we can add more detailed subcategories to our subcategories by setting the right “Parent” every time.
We can see what it looks like on the default page created by Drupal by checking the address /forum, or simply by clicking the right category link. However, we see that the number of topics and posts is null because we still need to create topics.
Adding forum topics
Forum topics will be posted like any other content nodes. The module has created a content type “Forum topics” for this. For the user’s convenience, there is also the “Add the forum topic” button on the Forums page.
When creating a topic, we need to select which category or subcategory we want to post it.
The answers to each topic will be posted like comments to each node. In our example, after we have posted one topic and one comment (or reply), we see that the count of topics has changed to 1 and the post count to 2.
Forum participant permissions
Now it’s time to determine who can view, add, edit, and delete the topic and comments. A common option is allowing authenticated Drupal users in “People — Permissions.” Alternatively, it’s possible to create a separate Drupal role if you want to make a membership forum for subscribers only.
Check out our video tutorial about how to create a forum on your Drupal 8 website.
Entrust our Drupal experts with creating your board
Inspired to create a forum on your Drupal website? The above example has been a rough sketch. Your discussion board will look exactly as you wish.
If you want to change the style or position on your website, add a feed with the latest discussions on other pages, or explore the many other options, our Drupal development experts can configure it out. Contact us and enjoy an attractive and user-friendly forum!