Forums are one of the easiest way to form a community around anything. Forums gives a place for members of community to talk and discus about topics, that are interested in. Recently, I moved ShoutMeLoud to WPEngine managed WordPress hosting, and one major reason was to add new features like Forums, membership access and few other stuff, which I have planned for long. From last couple of hours, I was researching on best forum plugins for WordPress, and found few options, which will quickly integrate forum into your existing WordPress blog. Here are some of the most suggested options:
There were few more options, but I’m discarding them as they are not updated for a long period. Out of all these plugins, SimplePress is featured rich, and MinglePress is one of the easiest option out there. Since my target for forum is to give a place for Shouters to ask questions, and where other members and me can quickly answer people queries. After looking upon so many options, I tried and tested MinglePress forum on my local server, and it look sleek and perfect. It may not be as feature rich as SimplePress, but when I look at my requirement (A simple forum), MinglePress fits perfectly. Let me quickly show you, how you can set up this plugin, and notable features of Mingle Press plugin.
MinglePress : One Click Forum integration for WordPress
One of the major problem with adding forum is, it needs a lot of time just like a new blog. Starting a forum is easy, but maintaining and building an active community will require lots of hard and smart-work. Before you decide on using this plugin or adding another forum plugin, here are few things you should ask yourself:
- Why do I need add forum to my blog?
- Will I be able to give dedicated time to build a active community around my forum?
- What all features you are looking for?
- Do you need a fully-fledged forum like DigitalPoint, Warriorforum or just a simple & easy to manage forum?
- Are you planning to use forum for Search engine traffic? If yes, what SEO strategy you going to follow for your forum?
Once you answer all the above queries, you will be in better state to decide if you need a forum now or not. Also, if reason for adding forum is to solve user queries by you only, you can look into Q&A type WordPress themes. After using Q&A themes, I found forums to be better than them. Although it’s my personal perspective. MinglePress plugin is easy to configure and to use. Here I’ll outline the steps, screenshots and videos to integrate forum in your blog in next 10 minutes.
- Login to your WordPress Dashboard
- Search for MingleForum plugin, install & activate it. Here is the official plugin page.
- Plugin comes with some easy to configure option, but before that you need to create a page (Name it forum or discussions), and add below mentioned shortcode in HTML editor.
Now, it’s time to get started with the configuration of your newly installed forum. You can access Mingleforum settings from left sidebar under your WordPress dashboard. Deafult general settings are good enough to start with, and one recommended change is to enable SEO Friendly URL’s:
One of the most important thing which you need to configure is: Forum structure. This feature will let you create sub-topics, and is very useful to maintain a proper forum like structure.
It’s a good idea to mindmap the topic name, before you make your forum live for public. Here is how a sample forum will look like:
One of the major problem which is worrying me about this plugin is, SEO functionalities. There are no SEO options out there, apart from using SEO friendly permalink. This will create a big issue to weed out lower quality content from forum using noindex tag. It will take me few weeks to integrate a blogger forum on my blog, but for now; I’m planning to add forum at something like forum.shoutmeloud.com, and use sub-domain for running the forum. In that case, I will use static front page feature, to give a complete look and feel of forum on that domain.
Here is a video from plugin developer Cartpauj, explaining how to use MingleForum and set-up options. (Warning! videos are bit lengthy and targeted for beginners also)
Do let me know how do you evaluate MinglePress as a forum solution for WordPress? Do you know any other plugin or solution which gives better features and easy to integrate forum?