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Электропила app forums community forum software

Best Forum Software (Free & Paid)

If you’re looking for the best forum software or the best free forum software to create an online community, the sheer amount of options can be overwhelming.

But, there are several that stand out as the best forum software – best because they’re reliable and packed with the features you need in a forum program.

In this guide, we will introduce you to 10 best forum software programs that should make your life easier in searching for the right software for building your online community.

The Best Forum Software

Picking the right forum software comes down to what’s suited best for your needs.

You can’t really go wrong with any of the below programs. So, you can also feel free to try out a few options before landing on the best forum software for you.

It may be important to note that the prices for the premium options on the list are accurate at the time of publication but may change later on.

1. vBulletin (Paid)

The vBulletin website. It’s one of the best forum software.

VBulletin is a premium forum software, but it’s at the top of the list because it’s quick to set up, has sophisticated capabilities, and has the option to host the forum software yourself, or through their affordable and reliable cloud hosting.

This forum program can be set up in 15 minutes and it’s built with SEO and security features so you don’t have to worry about sorting that out yourself.

It also has an AI-powered user engagement feature to help your community grow organically.

Additionally, this is one of the best forum software because it’s mobile-ready out-of-the-box. The mobile experience is even automatically optimized. So, your online community will be displayed well across all devices and desktops.

The administration options are also straightforward so it’s not a hassle to manage your forum on your own.

You can self-host vBulletin for a one-time price of $249, or you can choose to host the forum software on their cloud servers starting at $15 per month. If you choose to host with vBulletin, maintenance and forum software upgrades are included and taken care of.

It’s a software that’s best suited for anyone that requires an easy-to-use forum program.

2. Discourse (Free)

The Discourse website. It’s one of the best free forum software.

Discourse is certainly one of the best free forum software out there. It’s a popular option because it’s open-source, and has a lot of useful features and integrations.

It’s best suited for anyone that needs integrations to streamline their workflows.

There’s a ranking system that’s used not just to distinguish new members from experienced users, but to automatically give greater moderation capabilities to users who have contributed enough to earn it.

That way, your community can moderate itself and new users won’t be able to post or private message anyone anything that’s inappropriate.

It can also be used with WordPress to turn your website into a forum. Each blog post becomes a forum post. It also works with the Akismet WordPress plugin to moderate spam.

Discourse offers many other useful integrations such as Slack, IFTTT, Zapier, Zendesk, Patreon, GitHub, Google Analytics, Google Adsense, Amazon, and more. Social media integrations such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others are also represented.

If you prefer a managed hosting solution instead of self-hosting your forum software, there’s an option for that and it starts from $100 per month.

3. phpBB (Free)

The phpBB forum program’s website.

PhpBB is one of the oldest, free forum program options out there. It’s open-source as well as self-hosted forum software.

It has all the basic features you need in forum software, including user moderation, private messaging, notifications, the ability to set user permissions, etc.

Not only that, but it also has built-in security, anti-spam, and caching capabilities.

You also have the option of using plugins to add capabilities that don’t come out-of-the-box.

PhpBB has a responsive design. So, you needn’t worry if your members want to access your community on their mobile devices.

While its basic features may not seem all that special since these should be standard with any forum software, the specific capabilities are quite robust.

For example, the private messaging system is about as good as sending an email with whatever provider you use. You can add attachments, create an address book, create drafts, add attachments, view messages in conversation mode, and more.

It’s a solid option which is why it’s cemented as one of the best free forum software.

However, keep in mind that while phpBB is free, it’s a self-hosted option so you would need a hosting provider.

4. Simple Machines Forum (Free)

The SImple Machines Forum website: The forum software best suited for those on a budget.

Simple Machines Forum (SMF) is an open-source program and has all the features you would expect in the forum software. It’s best-suited for anyone on a budget that still needs professional forum software.

Its user interface (UI) is clean and simple, making it look quite professional.

It also has an advanced package manager so you can make modifications in a couple of clicks that quickly applies the changes in even large communities. So, you can forget the days when it took hours to apply multiple changes across a large database of forum members.

SMF also supports multiple languages all at the same time. That way, no one needs to feel left out, which is great.

It’s designed for optimal performance and scalability as well as enhanced SEO and caching. So, it’s built for large communities. That’s also why its advanced permission and user management settings are especially welcome.

5. xenForo (Paid)

The xenForo website.

XenForo is a self-hosted premium forum software best suited for businesses. It uses gamification to increase user engagement and integrates with Facebook so users can register through social media. It makes sharing to Facebook easier as well.

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XenForo has a recent activity feed so members can quickly get up-to-date. There are also notifications to make it even more straightforward to engage with the community.

It has a sleek, elegant, and professional UI, and built-in SEO optimization to increase forum functionality.

There are over 2,000 add-ons that range from various gamification features to administration, and enhanced search add-ons such as the popular and powerful ElasticSearch software.

It’s likely that you’ll find all the add-ons you need, but in case you don’t, they can help you develop one of your own with their framework.

XenForo will set you back $160 and there are also add-ons such as an installation service, branding removal, and other options. You’ll also need to host it yourself as previously mentioned.

6. Vanilla Forums (Paid)

The Vanilla Forums website.

Vanilla Forums is a managed forum software best suited for larger businesses that need a forum program that’s going to pack a serious punch when it comes to user engagement.

They provide a larger range of user permission roles and capabilities. This lets users have more incentive to engage with the community.

Beyond user engagement, there’s also a focus on efficiency. So, if you’re a business owner who wants to use this forum program as a support ticket system, you can. It’s built with user experience in mind so you’re able to reduce the time spent on support.

It also helps that Vanilla Forums has a knowledge base system included, so businesses can cut down on support tickets by having a self-serve option.

You can fully brand Vanilla Forums and it’s also fully responsive on all mobile devices. There’s an advanced reporting so you can effortlessly keep track of performance metrics to help make sure your team stays on target.

Plans range from $689-$10,000 and there’s also a custom option that exceeds this price range in case you’re an enterprise business with growing needs.

7. MyBB (Free)

The MyBB website.

MyBB is an open-source, self-hosted forum software best fit for businesses that need an elegant, but cost-effective forum program.

When you create a forum with MyBB, it’s stunningly elegant, eye-catching and professional-looking. There’s also a great user experience with its uncluttered layout and design.

Its interface is straightforward and this also includes administration pages.

MyBB has all the basic forum features you may need, but there are hundreds of free plugins and themes if you want to extend the capabilities, or in case you want to change the design and layout.

It comes with many plugins and themes, so it’s likely you’ll be able to find what you need. For example, caching, minification, CDN, gamification, security, anti-spam, and administrative plugins, and many more.

There’s also a strong, long-running community behind MyBB that has translated it into over 30 languages, and there are options to increase user engagement with gamification.

All the above makes it one of the best free forum software for businesses and individuals alike.

8. Flarum (Free)

The Flarum website. It’s a newer, free forum software.

Flarum is a new contender in the forum software market. Even though this open-source forum software is currently in beta testing, it’s still already a professional and elegant solution with a heavy focus on user experience.

Flarum is fully responsive and super mobile-friendly. It has larger buttons, infinite scrolling, smooth animations, and a message composer that floats on the screen. So, you can keep scrolling through the page without having to exit the message box and lose what you typed.

Its features are reminiscent of a social media site, for example with the Pusher extension users can live chat. There are also notifications that are organized by discussions so they’re easier to consume.

When you throw in the fact that you can post mentions to other users much like Twitter, Flarum goes from an ordinary forum program to one of the best free forum software. It can even rival the best forum software programs that have premium options.

A WordPress integration is currently in the works along with many other features such as anti-spam, statistics, keyboard shortcuts, private messaging, gamification options, and more.

It’s an elegant forum software best suited for individuals as well as businesses.

9. Invision Power Board (Paid)

The Invision Power Board website.

Invision Power Board is a premium forum program best suited for businesses. Although, it can still be great for individuals who are public figures or for those who want to be social media influencers.

Not only can you use this as a forum, but you can also use it as a support ticket system, eCommerce platform, CMS, file-sharing system, a blog, and more.

It has a rich text editor for excellent user experience and it’s also easy to manage as the administrator. It’s responsive as well so it will work well across mobile devices.

Invision Power Board is also incredibly flexible, meaning you can even customize the activity feed on a per-user basis.

Because it’s a forum program, users can also help one another to soften the workload of a business’s support team.

Invision Power Board is a managed solution with plans ranging from $45-$130 per month.

10. NodeBB (Paid)

The NodeBB website.

NodeBB is one of the best forum software because of its modern design and flexibility.

Its admin panel is intuitive, striking and lets you control absolutely everything about your forum. The forum itself also has an eye-catching, natural design and layout.

It really makes a great all-around user experience for everyone.

NodeBB is a premium option that’s managed so you don’t have to worry about getting hosting separately. It uses cloud hosting to ensure your forum loads quickly.

There are also many integrations including WordPress, Slack, MailChimp, Facebook, Google Adsense, Twitter, Amazon S3, Twilio, and loads more.

NodeBB doesn’t stop there. There’s also a library of plugins to extend the features of your forum. There’s everything from practical plugins for security as well as ones for efficiency, gamification, and user engagement.

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For example, you can install a plugin to let users mention other members on other social media platforms, like on Twitter.

It has a mobile-first design, it’s SEO-optimized, has an analytics dashboard, and users can chat in real-time.

NodeBB is open-source forum software that starts at $250 per month. Automatic daily backups, and unlimited staff and community members also come with all plans.

Wrapping Up

There you have it: Not only are these the best forum software, but some of them are the best free forum software options as well.

We hope you found the most suitable software that befits your needs.

Your next steps for building a forum would be:

  • Setting up your chosen forum software on a hosting plan.
  • Choosing a domain name, and connecting it with your forum program.

Were you able to choose the forum software best suited for your needs? What are you looking for in forum software? What do you consider to be the best forum software or the best free forum software? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Build your brand’s community with forum software

Your customers want to be heard. Give them a microphone and a space to connect with each other through an online community. Zendesk provides community forum software that gives your customers the chance to help each other, inspire one another, and share fresh ideas for how to strengthen your product or service. It’s like a focus group without the donuts. Unless your focus group is about donuts. Then there would definitely be donuts.

Not about donuts: The customer forum software allows your community members to start discussions, post their questions, give answers, make comments, and even state solutions about the products and services your company offers. A community like this is a valuable feedback forum for you and your team to learn which improvements your customers want to see most. They learn from each other and you learn from them. Win-win.

Don’t miss out on the conversation. Our discussion forum software is available as a free trial or free with a qualified Zendesk plan.

Discover what customers really want

Feedback is certainly crucial to understanding customer needs, but interactions between your business and your customers don’t tell the whole story. Your customers also talk to each other about what works and what doesn’t. Zendesk fosters customer engagement and strengthens connections on a customized, branded platform so you can join and learn from that conversation, too.

Forum software is powerful asset

A thriving user community can be a powerful long-term asset for your business. These conversations provide a great source of knowledge independent of time and physical location, especially regarding feature requests and using existing features differently. If you’re looking to generate new ideas, design with your existing audience in mind by listening to the people who already appreciate your product. Even if you’re not looking to generate new ideas, everyone loves a compliment.

Lower costs with better service

An online community is a scalable way to not only converse with your customers, but also support them when they have questions or problems. Beyond your team’s support, you may also see something new: Your customers helping each other.

By using community forum software, you have an opportunity for greater ticket deflections, keeping your support costs down. Thanks to the previous posts collected in your community, questions answered once can be used forever for all who enter. Lower costs. Better service. One happy community. Yeah, pretty sure you’re winning right now.

Build the community your customers need with Zendesk

Zendesk forum software fosters engagement and deepens connections on a platform that companies can customize and brand as their own. Conversations thrive in community discussion software, where users can participate in feedback forums and engage with other fans of your business.

Tap into more knowledge

There are so many ways to learn from and engage with your customers. Community engagement is one of our favorite things. Keep reading to find out more about forum software.

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The Best Forum Software for Creating an Online Community in 2021

marketer using forum software for community building

Forums provide the opportunity to build an online community that allows your audience to connect in a place where they know their interests are shared. This sense of connectedness is more important than ever in a time where more work, communication, and socialization is being done online.

Online communities are particularly beneficial for businesses because they allow customers to interact with each other in a smaller circle than they could via social media, which increases engagement and brand affinity.

For instance, let’s say one of your customers has a very unique problem with your product or service, and posts about it on your forum. That post is much easier to find than it would be on social media, where millions of users are talking about a million different things.

Even better, maybe another forum user has faced that same problem and can answer their question before your service reps even see it.

There is an incredible amount of value in reaching and building your community using a forum. Here, we’re going to explore the best forum software to get you started.

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Best Forum Software [Free & Paid]

  1. WordPress (With Plugin)
  2. Joomla!
  3. Discourse
  4. Vanilla Forums
  5. Codoforum
  6. phpBB
  7. VBulletin
  8. Invision Community
  9. Flarum
  10. MyBB
  11. inSided
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1. WordPress (With Plugin)

Price: Free (plus the cost of hosting)

Using a multi-purpose platform like a CMS to power your online community allows you access to many different software options in the form of plugins and applications. For instance, you might use the bbPress plugin to create multisite forums, and maintain them from one dashboard within your WordPress site. This is a great option if you want to set up a regular website and forum together.

There are many options to choose from using WordPress, all of which will provide you with the basic forum features you need, plus plenty of useful extras.

WordPress with bbPress forum plugin

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2. Joomla!

Price: Starts at $99 per year (plus development and hosting costs)

Joomla! Is a CMS software like WordPress, but requires more attention to detail and management. This is a robust CMS that will power your forum plugins like Kunena or EasyDiscuss, which are specifically created for Joomla!’s system. The price point comes from the open-source content management system, which will allow you to build powerful online applications alongside your forum software.

joomlapolis, a forum example using joomla! and kunena

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3. Discourse

Price: Starts at $100 per month (plus cost of hosting)

Discourse is open-source forum software that you can in tandem with your existing website and CMS platform. Not only can community members use it on their mobile devices, but they’ll also get dynamic notifications, badges, emoji, and more. Best of all, there’s a built-in moderation system to help you protect your community from spam and abuse.

discourse forum software

4. Vanilla Forums

Price: Variable based on your needs

Vanilla has an abundance of features — one of the most notable being the intuitive dashboard that lets you manage every aspect of your community forum. You can view stats, manage users, and use an advanced editor that recognizes HTML, BBCode, and Markdown using this software.

Additionally, Vanilla gives you the ability to adjust permissions of forums or members if you’re looking to control access. The software enables customers to submit, view and vote on ideas to drive innovation for your business, or use the Q&A option to connect with and help each other get more out of your products or services. Best of all, Vanilla offers an on-boarding process with useful checklists, training materials, and help from one of their support reps.

Vanilla Forums example

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5. Codoforum

Price: Free

Codoforum is forum software that has a fresh UI with modern design. It’s simple, clean, and easy to use. Codoforum is built with PHP using the latest coding patterns and is fully compliant with new PSR standards. This software provides a responsive layout structure for mobile and desktop, SSO and integration, as well as mention notifications for users.

Since it’s free to use, Codoforum is a good option if you’re still testing out forums or aren’t sure whether they’ll be useful for your own website and community.

Codoforum example

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6. phpBB

Price: Free

PhpBB is a forum platform that has a typical and intuitive board set-up where users can post public or private messages. With phpBB, you can create as many internal messaging boards as you want without any additional costs.

Additionally, you can use extensions to add new options to your forum community. This makes the software very customizable, and allows you to adapt the software to the growing needs of your audience.

Among other things, phpBB lets you create password-protected forums for added security, sub-forums, the option to display active topics at the top of your forum, and the ability to add forum rules at the top of a forum to ensure your community abides by set guidelines.

phpbb forum example at opencart

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7. VBulletin

Price: vBulletin 5 Connect $249, $15/month

Over 100,000 websites are built on vBulletin — including NASA, EA, and Sony Pictures — so it’s a popular option for hosting your forum. The software includes tons of great features, including built-in SEO, security, and responsive web design. With VBulletin you can have an unlimited hierarchy of forums as well as private forums.

Best of all, VBulletin provides fun and unique features for your community members, including private messaging, a friends list, member birthdays (shown on the Forum homepage), and the ability to see who’s online.

VBulletin is not known for being the fastest forum, but its design is clean and it offers quality support for its users.

vBulletin forum example

8. Invision Community

Price: Varies for forum size/data needs, but starts at $45/month for 65 online visitors

IP Board was a very popular forum software that has since expanded to Invision Community, which includes a forum application in addition to its other offerings. According to the Invision Community website, the forums module powers thousands of message boards around the web, and Invision Community has many other community management apps to help you interact with your audience.

The software allows your users to take control over their own online communities, which you can monitor at your discretion. For instance, Invision Community lets users create and manage their own communities, called «Clubs», which are fully integrated with your website — these clubs get designated Club Leaders, who can add new forums, calendars, or galleries to the community.

Screen Shot 2019-05-23 at 1.58.58 PM

9. Flarum

Price: Free

Flaurm has a streamlined design that is extremely easy to navigate. Forums using this software are fully responsive, and features include smooth animations and available swipe features for mobile optimization. Flarum was built by the developers of esoTalk and FluxBB, two of the fastest forum platforms, and has great performance reviews.

Screen Shot 2019-05-23 at 2.01.21 PM

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10. MyBB

Price: Free

MyBB is a free and open-source forum software that powers thousands of communities. It features hundreds of plugins and themes for you to customize, and the users that exist on the forum will help you establish your own community. Users have also contributed to the translations available for the content on the software. Now, forums are available in over 30 languages to help you grow a more global community.

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Screen Shot 2019-05-23 at 2.05.41 PM-1

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11. inSided

Price: Variable based on your needs

inSided is a full-featured Community Platform aimed at Customer Success and Community professionals looking to increase engagement, advocacy, and effectively gather product feedback.

They have a killer combination of a customer community platform, a knowledge base, and in-app support. What sets them apart from other platforms are integrations with software like Zendesk, Salesforce, Mixpanel, and Gainsight so that you can connect your community to your entire tech-stack and create a 360 degree view of your customer.

mixpanel_community

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Ways to Build Your Community Using Forum Software

People notice when brands listen to and converse with their customers, and they especially notice when brands foster their own communities. How? Through the power of word-of-mouth marketing. Customers who view themselves as valued members of your community are much more likely to talk about your brand to their friends.

Here’s how you can build a strong community using your forum software.

1. Spread the word.

Nobody will join your online community if they don’t know it exists. Spread the word about your new forum by including CTAs to join your forum in email newsletters or social posts. Ask your brand ambassadors or loyal fans to start posting about the forum, and post content on the forum so when other users join, you already have an established presence on the channel.

2. Listen to and check on your community regularly.

Reviewing your forum and responding to what your audience has to say is a crucial part of community building. Your customers are far less likely to continue to interact and engage on your forum if they feel as though they are being ignored. Responding to their feedback shows your users that you value their opinions and care about their experiences with your product.

Additionally, it’s your job to make sure everything is running smoothly on your forum. Checking on your community regularly will help you dissolve any service escalations, and give people the support they are seeking.

3. Foster a helpful discourse.

A forum should be a safe place for your customers, prospects, employees, fans, and audience to interact, ask, and answer questions. By establishing a helpful ethos early on, or creating community guidelines that prioritize patience and kindness within responses, your community will grow without the need to constantly monitor it 24/7.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Build Online Community and Forum with these 8 Best Software

Geekflare is supported by our audience. We may earn affiliate commissions from buying links on this site.

Forums are an integral part of the internet, and not having one for your business would mean limiting growth.

It’s easy to say that online communities aren’t relevant anymore, but little do we know that forums if nurtured well, can be beneficial for a business. Just imagine how many times we turn to forums looking for solutions to a problem that shows how big of a thing it is.

Fortunately, there is a lot of fantastic software available that can help you build your online community and reap its benefits. I’ll be going through some of the best ones in this article; however, let’s first understand how having a forum helps your business.

Fresh content on autopilot

The reason I’ve kept this on the top is that I consider this as one of the most notable benefits. Having a forum for your business will automatically generate fresh content, without you having to write them yourself. Once your forum becomes more and more interactive with users contributing and adding new posts, it translates to a steady autopilot flow of new content.

Extra income opportunity

As they say, “Always diversify your income sources,” your forum will help you do just that. An online community can be easily monetized with various tactics such as –

  • Ads
  • Affiliate products
  • Sponsored posts
  • Selling ad space

Though it won’t fetch you a thousand dollars by tomorrow, but can surely in a few months if you put in the work continuously. An additional source of income is always great!

Improves customer service

Having a lot of customers for your business directly translates to a ton of on-going questions for your products or services. Not to mention the time it takes to attend every single one out there. While answering your customers’ questions is a great thing to do, it can quickly become time-consuming if the same questions are being asked again and again.

An online community helps you tackle that problem with ease. Instead of responding to those same questions, you can create posts revolving around them and direct your customers for a quick-fix.

Better search-engine presence

Search engines such as Google always prefer sources that answer the search query directly. That is the reason forums like Quora pops up almost every time you search for a specific problem. From weight loss to business-related doubts to whatnot, they have mastered the art of forum SEO.

Also, having a forum also means having fresh new content added regularly, which is another factor that search engines look for.

Discourse

Easy to install and use, Discourse is a promising software to build your forum around a robust framework. It is entirely open-source and has some great features, which include:

  • Conversation-type pages which allow infinite scrolling instead of arbitrary pages
  • Real-time notifications for new activities
  • Expanded links for better user experience
  • Trust badges for regular members
  • Anti-spam plugins like Akismet
  • Fun emoji support
  • Detailed dashboard for better analyzing
  • Fully responsive on all devices be it phone, computer or tablet
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Discourse also offers a hosted solution and got three different plans with the entry-level one starting at $100/month. All of them come with a free 14-day trial, so you can test everything out. An alternative hosted solution would be A2 Hosting.

vBulletin

Probably the most popular forum software out there, vBulletin is used by some of the biggest companies, including NASA, Sony Pictures, and EA. They were great back when they were founded in 2000, but now they’re even better after the launch of their 5 th version of the software.

The vBulletin 5 Connect is packed with great features like:

  • In-built messenger chat
  • SEO and security functions
  • Easy social integrations
  • Fully responsive for all devices
  • Smartphone app for use on the go

It costs $249 and requires you to look after your hosting, maintenance, and upgrades. However, if you don’t want to handle that yourself, you can additionally purchase the vBulletin Cloud that’ll take care of all that. Another option would be to choose a SiteGround vBulletin hosting platform.

Flarum

Flarum came in pretty late in the market as compared to others, but it quickly made its name for the awesomeness they provide. Just like Discourse, this software to has infinite scrolling feature that lets you quickly skim through discussions without having to turn pages.

Apart from that, you get:

  • Smart user interface for easy navigation
  • Floating reply box that lets you read replies while drafting your answer
  • Fully responsive and touch-optimized
  • 100% lightning-fast open-source platform
  • 30-second installation option
  • Various beautiful themes
  • Smart real-time notifications
  • And much more!

The best part is, you get all those features free. There is no price tag attached to this fantastic software — A2 offers Flarum hosting from as low as $3 per month.

Insided

Used by brands like Kaspersky, Coursera, and Streamlabs, Insided is a software that lets you build online communication along with a knowledge base. They have smart integration that allows you to combine forces of a forum, help-center, and AI-powered system that shows the most helpful content in front of your customers.

This software comes with three different plans with exciting features on each that can be tested for free using their 14-day trial. After that, you can request a quote from them to purchase any of their paid plans.

Slack

Slack is a bit different than the other ones on this list because it is a collaboration software that is more focused on you and your team. It is great for interacting with your team and assigning support-related tasks for helping out the customers on a deeper level.

With Slack, you can:

  • Direct message users
  • Receive real-time notifications
  • Share documents and other files
  • Search through the entire dashboard to find relevant stuff easily
  • Integrate third-party apps like Asana and Google Drive
  • Do a face-to-face video call
  • And much more!

Their paid plans start from $2.67/user and go up till $5/user. Besides, they have a lifelong 100% free plan with limited features.

Mobilize

With features like deep analytic insights and massive data set, Mobilize is a tough contender that can hardly be ignored. It is trusted by brands like Dermalogica, United Nations, and SalesForce. However, it is priced slightly at a higher price for $799/month with unlimited admins and up to 50 groups. There is also a 100% free plan that allows up to 5 admins, five groups, and 5,000 members.

Other features include:

  • Ability to welcome newly joined members
  • Show suggested groups to members for better participation
  • Assign members the responsibility to lead/moderate groups
  • Access to essential data for tracking success and growth
  • And many more!

BuddyPress

BuddyPress is a flexible plugin that lets you build a full-blown online community on WordPress. With the plugin, you can customize every little bit of the functions like profile fields, account settings, email settings, notifications, etc.

Other features include:

  • Smart real-time notifications
  • Integrations with other third-party apps
  • User-created groups
  • Direct/group chat option
  • Ability to add other users as friends

There is no cost attached to it, which means you can download and use it free. If you decide to use BuddyPress and expect good traffic, then you must consider premium hosting like Kinsta or others mentioned here for optimal performance.

Last but not least; MyBB is yet another free and open-source software to build an impressive online community quickly. It is extendable with your choice of themes and various plugins to spice up the features even more. You should be able to set up a fully-functional forum with ease, but if you encounter any problems, there is a super-friendly community that’ll guide you through it.

Not to mention, they have some great features like:

  • Advanced discussions which allow video embedding
  • Ability to conduct polls
  • Floating reply box that lets you read replies while drafting your answer
  • Fully-controlled admin panel
  • Ability to chat with one or more users at a time
  • Reputation system which reflects the contributions of a user
  • Fast navigation and user experience

The best part is they regularly roll out updates fixing any bugs and errors for a better experience.

Conclusion

The above-listed software is all fantastic and lives up to their claims. However, when it comes to choosing one, it boils down to your requirements and needs. Most of these have identical features, but there are also some that stand out. All you need to do is identify your requirements and pick the most suitable one from the above list.

If you decide to go for self-hosted, then check out some of the best cloud platforms for better performance and security.

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