Want to turn your WordPress site into a discussion forum? In this ForumEngine review, we look at a theme that helps you do just that.
The online community has always been there on the web for a long time. Up to now, there are platforms that are made solely for online communities or which are also known as forums. These online forums are a great place to go whenever you want to read another reliable source from other users as well.
An online forum is a place where people around the world can create a harmonious community by participating by posting questions, sharing solutions, or some new spark of ideas, and a lot more. If you are building a website to create an online community, you can start with ForumEngine. In this ForumEngine review, we will tackle everything through the key features, pricing, pros and cons, and up to the installation and configuring of the theme.
ForumEngine is a forum theme that is optimized for more social interaction, made by EngineThemes. If you want to start your own community on WordPress, you can start by using this one. ForumEngine is one of the easiest yet dynamic online forums on WordPress that provides a great amount of strength to build a professional community site for WordPress or any niche with the creation of engaging topics on different aspects. On top of that, this theme is loaded with modern settings, language choices, an effective front-end, and an easy-to-configure back-end. With that, you can create your own WordPress forums seamlessly, without the need for coding skills. Site visitors can now filter the contents on your site easily by using ForumEngine’s search functionality.
If you are enticed with the theme overview, you might as well consider that this theme doesn’t come off for free. Fortunately, you can use their demo version which is available on their website and see for yourself if the theme’s functionality suits your needs. But if you wish to avail yourself, ForumEngine caters to two pricing plans that may fit your budget.
The first plan is called “Single Theme”. It costs around $49 which is good for 12 months of free updates and official support. It also includes the ForumEngine theme, unlimited websites, basic child themes, full PSD package, and Documentation. The second plan is called the “Community Package”. If you avail of this plan, you can get 20% off on your purchase so it costs $109 only with 12 months of free updates and official support. It also includes the ForumEngine and QAEngine, unlimited websites, basic child themes, full PSD packages, and documentation.
After laying out the full overview of this theme with different pricing options, we can go in-depth by going through the ForumEngine’s key features and pros and cons.
- Complete Forum Statistics
As an administrator for an online forum, one of the tasks that you need to do on a daily basis is reviewing threads and reply to different postings. The most common way of doing this is going through the WordPress dashboard, finding the panel, and attending to every query. These tasks will become tedious in the long run, and to alleviate the task, ForumEngine has a forum statistics section which can be found at the right side of the interface where you can instantly view the members, threads, and replies all in a single location. You don’t have to go through the dashboard to do this task as ForumEngine made it simple and easy for you.
- Set Members as Moderators
Aside from reviewing threads in the forum, the administrators have the authority to set the right members as moderators. Moderators are the ones who maintain high-quality and seamless conversations over the forum. Get the right members who can help you maintain your site and keep it in moderation. The moderators remove spam while the queries are separated into another section. In that way, discussions are healthy and interactive.
- Ban System
In every forum site, there are always malicious users who are registered in your forum and will create distractions to other users by causing a disturbance in the discussions. We cannot avoid this kind of people in the forums. They are everywhere. However, as an administrator, you can take precautionary actions by blocking that malicious user/s. By doing that, it keeps your forum a safe place for everyone. In creating safe and secure forums, ForumEngine has that feature so make use of that.
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- Search Functionality
If you are a frequent user of forums, you will always look for threads in the discussions that may seem of help to you. However, if you go through all of the threads, you might be overwhelmed by the number of threads you can see. As a solution, you don’t need to go to such lengths as another feature of ForumEngine is its search functionality. With the power of the Ajax search system, users can now search and view the threads without taking you to another page. In that way, the user experience is much improved by this feature. ForumEngine also provides a category widget so that users can easily click on the topics by selecting their favorite category.
- Front-end Magic
Take control of how your front-end will look like as ForumEngine is known to be powerful and highly customizable when it comes to the front-end. It provides a style customizer where you can change the style and appearance of your forum homepage. The front-end controls are other settings that you can use where you can publish and edit content without leaving your homepage. ForumEngine has an adaptive design that will make your site always appear beautiful, even on mobile devices. The theme also has a simple and modern design. The developers keep it that way for more improved interactions from users. There are a lot of things that you can do on your front end to match your forum site needs.
- User Badges System
The theme also comes with a special badge feature which, as an administrator, you can decide the level of the user. You can create custom badge types and set rules and benefits for your members and moderators. It also has the earning points system where you can earn points by replying to threads, interact with the discussion, and post topics, and with that, you can use the credit points to get a promotion and get a higher badge.
- It provides a good amount of widgets for forum statistics, hot topics, categories, etc. as this theme is dedicated to the WordPress forum theme. No plugins needed.
- It allows users to display advertisements and earn additional income.
- Configurable front-end to match it with your website needs.
- Unfortunately, if you are looking for a free forum theme to start with, this theme is not for you. You cannot use this theme unless you’re going to pay for it.
- If you are building a regular business or eCommerce site using this theme, that is very unlikely to happen. It can be integrated with WordPress blog but it doesn’t have the options to display products.
After discussing the different key elements of the ForumEngine theme together with its pros and cons, we can now proceed to the Installation and Configuration process of this theme.
ForumEngine Theme Installation & Configuration
Before anything else, purchase the theme first by going to the website of EngineThemes. After that, you can now download the zip file. This is the file that you are going to upload on your WordPress. Now, go back to your WordPress dashboard and log in to the account that you wish to install this forum theme.
Add New Theme
Now that the zip file is downloaded, proceed to your WordPress Dashboard by clicking on the Appearance, then Themes, and select Add New Theme.
Upload the zip file
Upon selecting that, you may now upload the zip file that you have downloaded a while ago and select the ForumEngine file.
Install the theme
After uploading the file, click on the Install Now button and wait for a few seconds until the screen displays that the installation process is successful.
Activate the Theme
Now, go back by clicking again on the Appearance and select Themes. If the installation process was successful, the theme will automatically be added here together with your other WordPress themes. Click on the activate button. And now you’re ready to configure the ForumEngine theme.
Configuration – Overview
Proceed with the Theme Configuration by going to the Engine Settings on the menu item. Under that, you can access the theme management area. The theme management area is divided into three sections which are the Overview, Settings, and Members. Let’s talk about the Overview first. In this section, you can see the summary or the overview of the forum on your site. It displays the usage stats, registration, and thread statistics. You can choose on the predetermined date ranging from seven days up to one year. By those dates, you can see the overview on that certain date. You monitor how the forum and threads perform on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis. This kind of information is pretty helpful as this data will help you improve the areas that you are lacking.
Configuration – Settings
Let’s now proceed to the next section under the Overview which is the Settings section. In this section, you have control over the main features and options for the ForumEngine theme. The following settings include the logo dedicated for your forum site, the title, and the description which tells about your forum, together with your social links where site visitors can also reach you beside the forum itself. Take note that the social links are mandatory and you cannot proceed to the next section without including those. If you really wish not to include your social links, we recommend creating a social link specifically for your forums only.
Configurations – Members
Now for the last section under the themes management area is the Members section. Obviously, this is where the management of the site members takes place. You can view all of the members and that includes every regular member from the process up to the creation as they are involved on your site. As for that manner, you can manage the roles of your members in this section if you don’t want to mix up the roles with other members. With proper roles assigned to the members, you will be able to create a harmonious forums site.
Threads and Replies
As part of the theme management area on the dashboard, the ForumEngine theme creates two new custom posts types which are the Threads and Replies. These two custom posts are the main core of every forum site. This is the part of the theme management area where the administrator takes place by managing the forum content and how the content can be viewed by the site visitors. Editing and managing the contents can be accessed through the WordPress admin area. As these are custom post types, you can create new threads or replies on the WordPress backend which can be navigated also through the WordPress post editor. You can separate the threads from the regular post categories and tags by creating the threads their very own category and tags. In that way, everything under a certain post will be seen easily on this particular category or tag.
ForumEngine Theme Front-End
The theme’s front-end uses a minimalistic and clean interface. Site visitors can easily view what the forum site is all about. From the homepage itself, site visitors can easily access the threads and discussions on the forums. While on the right-hand panel, you can see the color legends used for a particular topic or discussion. It is simple and very straightforward to use.
ForumEngine uses intuitive controls that make the experience of both the site visitor and the user even better. On top of that, the real interaction happens when the visitors create new post threads or reply to the existing forum discussions. Joining the forums is pretty simple. You just need to create a login account by entering your name, email address then set your password, and voila!
You can now actively join the discussions on the threads. Good news for the non-registered ones as they can also access the new topic creation and engage with other users. By having that kind of feature, if the non-registered users are fascinated by the topics and find it very useful. That is the very reason they can join your forums site. Well, that’s even better. If you gain new members, you can access and manage their roles through the Members section under the theme management area.
Take note that if you use your WordPress site before you use the forum’s theme, any of your existing posts and those you create after activating the theme will no longer be available. Overall, ForumEngine themes will remove the whole functionality of your website before and convert it to a forums-based site. If you wish to use this theme with a regular blog, you will need a separate installation so keep that in mind.
And there you have it. Easy installation process and a straightforward configuration for your forums site.
Support & Documentation
As a client using this kind of product, it is certainly important to know if the developers are devoted to the product that was made. It includes updates and full support on a regular basis to keep the product like this functioning well. Bugs and other minor issues must be fixed so the clients continuously patronize your products. As for the ForumEngine themes, they already stated that they will have weekly updates as they treat the themes as their living projects. Good thing that the developers are really dedicated to their projects. The dashboard theme allows you to update the theme with a touch of a button without going through the tedious task of downloading and uploading new files. As a result, they continuously grow and improve the user’s experience in the long run.
As for their online support, the consumers of Engine Themes can post questions directly to the Ask the Community section of their website or contact them through email. And lastly for the documentation, unfortunately, the materials are mostly available to their other theme Job Engine. It would be appreciated if they created documents about their weekly updates like what is added and what is removed.
Online forums never get lost on the web. They still exist for the purpose of creating community and building relationships with people you interacted with. Converting your WordPress blog site to a forums site is possible by using the ForumEngine themes. It has a minimalistic vibe that creates a clean and professional forums site. If you are starting and you want to use this theme, unfortunately, you need to pay to make use of it.
However, this theme provided a demo version where you can experience how it goes to your website, then afterward consider if it’s the right theme for your starting forums site. Another thing, forums help you with SEO. With the right use of keywords and metadata on the threads and discussion, then surely your forums site will be included on the Google rankings. Overall, this is a great plugin to start with as it is simple and easy to use. We hope that you build the forum site that you dream of by reading this piece. See ya on the other side!