How to Create a Forum Website for Discussion & Customer Service | Black Hat Forum
Community forums were the dominant digital channel for customer-to-customer communication before social networking. Millions of individuals still use forums (like Blackhat forum) to communicate with other customers and debate various goods and services online, despite the popularity of social media.
Businesses utilise forums to interact with clients and respond to inquiries about their goods and services. Users can communicate openly and engage with other users who have similar interests, concerns, and criticisms.
In this post, let’s look at how you can create a forum website for your business. Then, we’ll provide some best practices you can use to leverage it as a customer service channel.
How to Create a Forum Website
1. Pick a location to host your forum.
Choosing the location for your forum is the first step. It might be a page that can be accessed by typing www.example.com/forum at the end of the URL. Alternatively, it might be a subdomain at the start of the URL, such as forum.example.com. Where you go will rely on your website’s organisation and design as well as the web server you currently use.
2. Choose a content management software to create your forum website.
Selecting a content management system is the next step after choosing a web address. This software creates the pages for your forum and allows you to create and organise its material. Choose software that can complement the features and theme of your current website because it can make all the difference.
3. Organise your forum’s structure.
You should think about how you’re going to organise themes before building pages. Customers should have no trouble finding what they’re looking for, and your forum’s navigation features should meet the needs of its users.
Decide the issues you wish to have discussions about first. These may concentrate on troubleshooting particular goods and services or they may include more general subjects like client suggestions and workarounds. In case visitors need to skip categories to find a certain page, you should also offer a search bar. By structuring your forum in this way, you’ll make it easier for visitors to explore your website and discover content that speaks to their interests.
A parenting community like Mumsnet, for instance, organises its discussions into divisions and makes it obvious what themes are discussed. The threads are organised by ongoing conversations if you don’t have a particular subject in mind.
As you can see above, there is a “Trending Now” area with a list of themes on Mumsnet’s right side. In addition to the navigation, visitors can click this button to view an alphabetical list of topics.
Your content can also be arranged according to trending and highlighted subjects. One of my favourite forum layouts is how the Black Hat Forum is set up. You can see featured topics and the most popular community topics in the screenshot below.
The Black Hat Forum also has excellent navigation because it includes webinars, blogs, and lessons. Residents may interact with the neighbourhood and get learning resources in one place.
Regardless of how you organise your content, your forum page should have these elements:
- Search bar
- Navigation menu
- Sign in/Login button
- Popular community topics
- Widgets for upcoming events, latest blog posts, webinars, or tutorials if applicable
4. Design your forum’s theme.
The topic of your forum should correspond to the surrounding website. To prevent clients from being perplexed when they navigate to a new page, it should have the same colours, logos, and layout as your existing content.
Some content management systems offer themes that go well with the majority of website designs. Users can choose their forum’s theme from a range of alternatives as shown in the example below.
5. Create user rules for your forum website.
- Visitors should feel confident participating in the discussions on your forum. To do that, all users will have to comply with a set of guidelines that encourage constructive, educational dialogue. These guidelines guarantee that discussions stay on topic and that everyone feels free to contribute.
- Here are a few guidelines to get you started:
- Even when you disagree with someone, show respect.
- There must be no profanity or discriminatory remarks.
- No self-promotion or spam.
- There are no links to outside businesses or websites.
- No content that is NSFW (not safe for work).
The Educational Theatre Association is a fantastic source for community norms.
The organisation displays its top rules, including how to engage in positive, fruitful dialogues, as seen in the screenshot below. These guidelines are a fantastic place to begin.
Users can use the site’s complaint and reporting procedures if they detect someone breaking the community standards.
6. Start conversations with interesting discussion topics.
You should draft a list of general discussion topics that promote dialogue before publishing your forum. This will help new users feel more comfortable, especially when your forum is just getting started. After all, users find it much simpler to leave comments on other people’s posts than it is to create their own.
7. Publish the forum on your website.
You can now publish your forum. Set your pages live and link the homepage of your forum to your main website. When users go to the homepage of your company, they should have no trouble finding your forum.
8. Advertise to your audience.
The next step is to develop an active community for your forum after we’ve gone over the technical measures you must take to start one. It might be much easier said than done to engage participants, much like an awkward middle school dance.
Start by contacting and advertising to your most devoted clients. These folks will be thrilled to participate in your forum because they actually care about your brand. Other guests will be more likely to join the conversation if you can get them chatting.
You can market to them by emailing them or using social media advertising that are specifically targeted to them. You can also promote your neighbourhood on search engines. Start a campaign for your forum by listing all the ways you currently advertise your marketing initiatives.
9. Increase engagement with badges.
Engagement is a difficult thing to start, of course. You don’t want the conversations to sound forced and manufactured. Offering rewards is a fantastic approach to promote involvement.
Badges are a good example of an incentive you can offer. Give users visible badges as rewards for their consistent participation in your forum. Your “regular contributors,” who are likely to be your most engaged users, will experience a feeling of community through their participation.
10. Moderate user participation and respond to customer inquiries.
Forums are vibrant, dynamic communities that require participation from their creators if they are to succeed. This indicates that your company should be facilitating discussions and using the forum as a constant source for client feedback.
To moderate your forum and address client questions, customer care representatives ought to be assigned. They should ensure that participants are following the forum’s rules and respond to any inquiries clients have about your goods and services. This will not only keep your topic lively but will also give users a wonderful support experience.
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