Gone are the days when a website alone could draw and retain customers. Today, every business, big or small, needs an active online community (besides the mandatory website) of customers for maximum engagement and retention. With several benefits, including social collaboration, generation of new contacts, increased outreach, transparency, and enhanced customer support, online communities are unmatched in creating value for brands and organizations. Moreover, thanks to the wide selection of WordPress plugins and themes, you don’t need to create a community from scratch. What’s more, it’s irrelevant whether you know coding or not - WordPress makes website and community building as easy as 1-2-3!
This article will walk you through the basics of building an engaging online community using the best WordPress plugins and themes.
Starting a Website
With WordPress, you can build any online community website - it could be a learning website, a travel website, a gaming website, a website for parents, and the list goes on. So regardless of your area of interest, the first step is to start the website.
Say you want to build an EdTech Website that offers and sells different courses designed for college students. In addition, you also want to create an online community on the platform that lets students, teachers, and educators communicate and interact with each other for discussions and doubt resolutions.
‣ Signup for a WordPress hosting account. Website hosting is a service that will make your website visible and accessible on the internet. Some of the best WordPress web hosting providers include Bluehost, SiteGround, DreamHost, HostGator, and Hostinger.
‣ You will also require a domain name or your website’s address on the internet—for example, www.atomchat.com.
Choosing an Interactive WordPressTheme
WordPress has a fantastic collection of professional and engaging themes that you can apply to your EdTech site. Here are the three most popular ones:
Eduma is an easy-to-use and multipurpose WordPress education theme and one of the most widely used Learning Management Systems (LMS). With a convenient drag-and-drop page builder, fully customizable features, and WooCommerce interaction, Eduma’s responsive and learner-friendly designs make it a premier choice for EdTech websites.
Lincoln is a leading name among the most up-to-date education WordPress themes. Loaded with innovative designs, Lincoln is an intuitive and customizable theme with powerful features like Live Demo and Visual Composer. Moreover, it is WooCommerce-ready and lets you sell courses through your online EdTech platform.
Masterstudy is a robust WordPress theme for online educational services. With a user-friendly interface and a host of functionalities, including LMS, lesson and course customization, quizzes, and online sales management, Masterstudy checks all the boxes of an ideal EdTech website theme. Features like live lesson streaming and Zoom video conferencing ensure the active engagement of the user community.
Selecting a WordPress Plugin
WordPress has carved out its niche in the education sector for several reasons, but primarily because of its flexibility and ease of administration. It has an impressive list of plugins that further enhance the customizability of the WordPress site. So, plugins are nothing but software tools that can expand the functionality of your WordPress EdTech website.
Here’s a list of some popular WordPress plugins that can help you build your online learning community through maximum user engagement:
1. Ultimate Member
The first step to creating a bustling online community is to use a membership plugin that lets users register, log in, and create a profile. Ultimate Member is one of the leading names when it comes to WordPress user-profiles and membership plugins. It boasts of many impressive features such as effortless registration and login, fully customizable and aesthetic user profiles, creating user roles, member directories, access controls, and much more. In addition, Ultimate Member offers optional extension features like WooCommerce integration, groups, notices, social media login, and a lot more.
AtomChat is a robust group chat plugin that lets you add text chat and video calling features to your website. With easy WordPress integration, AtomChat offers all the resources required to take user engagement on your EdTech website to the next level. With features like HD video conferencing with up to 50 participants, real-time chat notifications, open-to-all, and invite-only group chats, and multilingual chat and translations, AtomChat is a great way to foster active engagement of learners and educators.
What’s an EdTech website without a discussion forum for students and teachers? By far, bbPress is the best plugin for integrating a forum into a WordPress website. bbPress is fast, clean, easy to moderate, and seamlessly integrates with any WordPress theme. Besides its simple setup, bbPress lets you create multisite forums while managing them from a single dashboard. Thus, it is the perfect forum plugin for classrooms that will encourage students and teachers to discuss course content and create an active academic community.
There is no denying that social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram rule the digital place. However, controversies over privacy and hate speech have led users to question the integrity of these popular social media platforms. In such a sensitive scenario, online community websites can play a massive role in restoring the reliability and functionality that a social media platform should ideally provide. What’s more, these online community websites are an all-in-one package with features that nurture maximum user engagement.
We’ve taken the use case of an EdTech site to give you an example of how you can build your online community website using WordPress. Regardless of your area of interest, you can use this as a guide and create your own aesthetically beautiful and functional community on the Web!