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Building a forum website is an excellent method to interact with your target audience and foster cross-community conversation.

An internet forum typically concentrates on a single topic, such as politics, technology, hobbies, or current events. Forum platforms are a popular tool used by business owners to advertise their goods and services to a wider audience.

The top 12 forum software options will be examined in this post, along with a summary of the benefits and drawbacks of each form builder.

We’ll also go over the characteristics and functionality you ought to search for in an online forum software.


With the versatile free forum software phpBB, you may make message-posting boards for registered members. You can create as many internal message boards as you like after a forum is set up.

With phpBB, you can add additional features to the forum by using extensions, in addition to certain core features. Almost any forum-related feature you could want can be added with hundreds of free extensions.

Because of its responsive design, you can offer the greatest experience on a variety of devices.

Additionally, phpBB has a theme system that you may use to alter the general appearance of your forum. There are numerous options available to users for personalizing their posts and profiles.

And lastly, phpBB has a vibrant community and is open-source.


You can anticipate certain features from all of the top choices for forum software. This includes the capacity to implement moderation, allow user registration, and build up message boards.

There are many features that MyBB and phpBB share. This user-friendly, community-driven, free and open-source software contains strong plugin and theme systems.

It has a feature-rich control panel that allows you to monitor and manage many parts of your online forum, including members, groups, postings, statistics, and posts.

The primary distinction is that MyBB has less extensions available.

But in terms of customization, it is superior to phpBB. MyBB forums have much more of a contemporary appearance due to their wider theme selection.

Vanilla Forums

Vanilla Forums has paid and open-source versions. The premium edition is mainly meant for enterprise-level users and has a monthly starting price of $689.

But there are more than enough features in Vanilla’s free edition to create a functioning community forum.

A knowledge base component integrated into the platform allows companies to centrally develop content related to their goods and services. Customers may quickly locate the tools and resources they require thanks to this.

All things considered, Vanilla Forums’ high degree of polish sets it apart from competing software. The message boards that you can make instantly seem amazing. Access to theme and add-on systems is also included.

All the features required to create a contemporary forum are included in this list. You gain access to “Best Of” sections, gamification elements, and post autosaving in addition to standard forum features.


Given that WordPress is currently the most widely used content management system (CMS), you have undoubtedly heard of it before. You might be surprised to learn that this platform’s extensive plugin library allows you to build practically any kind of website, from a blog to an online store.

The greatest options available to you for using WordPress to create a forum are bbPress and wpForo Forum. Each of these plugins offers every essential function you may want for an online forum.

Using a multipurpose platform to run your online community may seem like a bad idea. But if you want to put up a forum and a regular website side by side, one of your best options is a content management system (CMS) like WordPress.


Another great CMS that lets you create nearly any kind of website you can think of is Joomla!, which includes online forums. It has an extensive plugin and theme library, much like WordPress, which makes the platform highly configurable.

Joomla! differs from WordPress in that it gives you more control over your projects right out of the box. Nevertheless, it’s not as hands-off as WordPress because it’s designed for those with more web programming skills.

You must select the appropriate plugin if you want to use this powerful CMS to power your forum. Our top choices are EasyDiscuss and Kunena.


Although it has more default functionality than WordPress and Joomla!, Drupal is still a very popular content management system.

One of the most potent content management system platforms out there in terms of capability is Drupal. Nevertheless, there is a severe learning curve as a result of those new capabilities. It can be a little overwhelming to try to use Drupal without any prior coding knowledge.

Having said that, the platform provides a good selection of modules and themes to further personalize your experience. Nonetheless, Drupal comes with built-in capabilities for creating forums, so you won’t need to utilize any extensions to get started.

Additionally, certain modules—like Advanced Forum—allow you to expand the default settings.

Simple Machines Forum

Simple Machines Forum is most comparable to phpBB if you’re seeking for a fast comparison. This forum-building software is unique because of how flexible its module and theme systems are.

The package manager used by Simple Machines Forum makes it easy to install and update modules. It also provides the largest selection of themes and plugins for open-source forum software available.

In addition, Simple Machines Forum offers all the other features you would anticipate from a premium forum solution, including the ability for your forum members to purchase memberships.


With the help of the premium WordPress plugin BuddyBoss, users may build online communities with interactive elements like private groups and online forums on their websites.

BuddyBoss is a feature-rich plugin for anyone wishing to manage an online learning platform or a learning community centered around an online course, with an emphasis on eLearning and online courses in particular.

BuddyBoss is a great plugin for anyone trying to create a custom community because it has features like a community dashboard, unique user profiles, friend and follower capabilities, comments, likes, and user posts.


There are instances when using a platform with hundreds of functions is superfluous. For instance, FluxBB aims to offer a lightweight, performance-focused substitute for conventional forum software.

That is not to say that FluxBB is feature-poor. It has all the necessary tools, including plenty of moderation choices, to build up a community forum, including message boards.

Theme and plugin systems are included, however there aren’t many diverse possibilities for each one.

All in all, FluxBB is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a straightforward and efficient platform.


In essence, Codoforum is a PHP and MySQL-based freemium forum software. One of the primary goals of the software, according to its authors, is the user experience. As a result, it provides a clear, basic design together with essential functions to build a vibrant online community.

Installing this program on any server that supports PHP and MySQL is one of its greatest advantages. Its well-organized and user-friendly manual page also has everything you need from the ground up.

The layout of Codoforum is responsive, meaning it changes to fit different screen sizes on its own. Users can also integrate their websites and forums using its Single Sign-on (SSO) plugin, enabling visitors to log in with just one credential.


Another free, open-source forum program that provides a contemporary, yet simple user interface for group conversations is called Discourse.

To make threads easier to read and facilitate better conversation flow, a scroll navigation bar is included rather than threads being divided into pages. The layout design adapts to different screen sizes automatically because of its mobile optimization.

Discourse offers smooth login connection with social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as well as third-party apps like GitHub and Slack.

Numerous elements are available to assist you in identifying and designating skilled members for user moderation and community administration. Additional elements like personalized badges and emoticons contribute to the happier environment.


PHP and JavaScript are used by Flarum, a free forum software solution, to enhance performance and user-friendliness. This allows for faster program loading. Its layout is user-friendly and flexible for different screen sizes.

Additionally, this open-source forum builder offers a simple setup procedure. Just go to the installation page (yourdomain.com/flarum, for example), enter your information, and then wait for the installation to finish.

Flarum’s UI was designed with the user experience in mind; to increase user engagement, it includes animations and other useful elements. Users can simultaneously draft a message and browse through discussions with this feature.

What Makes a Great Forum Software?

Most online forums enable you to register an account, create topics, and post in response to other users’ posts.

User-role systems are frequently included in forums, allowing administrators and moderators to oversee the site while regular users are only granted the most limited permissions.

Aside from the fundamental functionality, here are some additional things to look out for when you are choosing an online forum software:

  • Profile customization. Enable users to customize their profiles and help increase engagement by giving them more flexibility and control.
  • Powerful text editor. Forums are almost 100% text-based. That is why a user-friendly text editor is essential for users to create and customize their posts.
  • Private messaging. Many forums are all about community discussion, but enabling private messaging is an excellent way to advance interpersonal relationships.
  • Comment signatures. Like profile customization, this option can help you increase engagement and give users the chance to have more fun.
  • Achievement systems. Some online forums set up “user levels” that can be unlocked after a certain level of activity or amount of time. It rewards users for frequently participating in your forum.

Not every forum-building program needs to have every one of these capabilities. Depending on the kind of experience you wish to offer, you will require different things.

For example, you might not need to enable accomplishments or signatures if your aim is to create a forum where people can post questions about customer service.

Still, the majority of forums could use as many contemporary features as feasible. Users can be encouraged to return by offering an experience that is as similar to a social media platform as possible.

Therefore, even if you don’t plan to utilize them right immediately, you should search for forum software that has as many of these capabilities as possible.

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