8 Best Forum Building Software in 2021

Forum Building software are the web applications used to run online forums. Forum Building systems allow your visitors to communicate with each other by posting messages. Most forums allow anonymous visitors to view forum postings but require you to create an account in order to post messages in the forum. When posting in a forum, you can create new topics (or "threads") or post replies within existing threads. A forum grows every day in terms of its member base and content appeal. Online forums act like magnets for great content. Analyzo has listed the best Forum Building software that you can choose from based on your requirements. Click on Quick View to see plan features or compare plans across companies.

Best Forum Building Software

Sparklit ActiveBoard
Price : $6.40/month - $99.50/month

Sparklit is a team of web design professionals building apps likes Activeboard Forums, Adbutler Adserving and more. Activeboard has a lot of styles to choose from. It hosts the forum for you and doesn't require any technical expertise on your part to run the forum.

Price : $49/month - $650/month

PlushForums is a cloud-based community forum platform which aims at businesses and other organisations. Some of its main features are enhanced user experience, real-time discussions, active mobile support etc.

Vanilla Forums
Price : Free - Custom

Vanilla Forums is a cloud-based community forum software based on queues of messages. It provides a modern community platform to organizations who want to improve customer service, increase advocacy, strengthen brand loyalty or just encourage discussion between their community.
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Price : Free - Custom

NodeBB is a next-generation discussion platform that utilizes web sockets for instant interactions and real-time notifications. It's powerful, mobile-ready and easy to use.
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Price : Free

Flarum is free, open-source forum software which focuses on simplicity. The users can use Flarum to easily set up a discussion forum for their website. The user interface is streamlined so the users can spend less time clicking and more time talking.

Price : Free - Custom

Discourse is an open-source discussion software which is a simple, flat forum, where replies flow down the page in a line. It can add a social element to discussion and information sharing among the user's visitors.
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Invision Power
Price : $20/month - $590/month

The Invision Power Software Community Suite is a flexible, integrated set of apps for building great communities on the web. The IPS Community Suite is highly configurable - site owners and administrators can set it up precisely according to their needs.

Price : $20/month - $585/month

Muut is an internet discussion forum and commenting tool. It’s a modern, fast and scalable discussion platform that the users can embed onto their website, and personalize with CSS to match the design of their website. Muut powers lively discussions for millions of sites, making users happier.

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FAQ's for Forum Building Software

How do I avoid spam posts on my forum?

Sometimes basic spam prevention strategies such as CAPTCHA aren’t good enough to protect your forum from spammers. Sometimes you need multi-layered spam defenses to keep your online community free of spam. There are various practices you could follow to make sure your forum is free of spam. Some of these are:

  1. Use anti-spam plugins such as Akismet that check content and usernames against real-time spam blacklists.
  2. Set links in posts to “nofollow” so that search engines don’t crawl them. This discourages spammers who are looking to get their links into search engine indexes.
  3. Use ranks to restrict a member’s abilities including adding links to posts and being able to edit a post after a specific period of time has passed. This helps fight human spammers.
  4. Ban a spammer when you find one by their username, email, email domain, or IP address.

Does my forum work in a sub- folder of my website or sub-domain?

When you are setting up your online community, you can either set it up in a sub-folder (http://yourdomainname.com/community/discussions) or use a sub-domain (http://community.yourdomainname.com/discussions). Both work fine!

If you want your reputation to brush-off on your forum, you should ideally go for a sub-folder. In case you want to build your forum as an individual thing, you should go for a sub-domain.

Where is my forum hosted?

You can either use the paid version offered by many forum software providers which is generally hosted in the cloud. Or you can go for the free open-source self-hosted version which you will have to host on your own server.

Do I need to know coding to modify the look of my forum?

Many forum building software let you make basic edits such as choosing themes, editing headers/footers, customizing URLs, uploading your own favicons etc. You do not need to know anything about coding for this. But if you want to dig in deeper and make more advanced edits to your online community’s design using css, you need to have some knowledge about coding.

Can I update the message board design to match my website?

Online forum building software let you create and design online communities that match the look and feel of your website, and do not like something from the early 90’s. From choosing pre-defined themes to creating your own, you get complete freedom to edit each and every element of your online community. You can even add your custom CSS to completely alter the way your forum looks.

Can I optimize my forum for SEO?

Yes, you can easily optimize your forum for SEO and boost its ratings. Generally, most online forum platforms let you edit and update Meta tags, SEO titles, and Meta description. There are also add-ons available for creating XML sitemaps. Optimizing SEO is a great way to rank higher in search engine search results and attract more visitors.

Do I need to host forum software on my server?

Online Forum Building Software come in two variants - cloud-based or self-hosted. If you opt for cloud based forum software, you will not need to install anything on your server. The software provider takes care of the hosting for you. Whereas, in case you go for the self-hosted option, you will have to host it on your own server. Usually, self-hosted option is available for free by many software providers and cloud-based variant is a paid service offered by them.
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