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, and what are the steps you need to take to build the community on Wordpress.
First decide what type of community website you need -
If you're looking to build a community website, it's important to understand which type of community website is best suited for your needs. Depending on the purpose of your community website, different types of platforms may be more appropriate. Here are a few options to consider:
- Social network: A social network is a platform that allows users to create profiles, connect with others, and share content. If you want to create a platform for users to socialize and network with each other, a social network may be the best option.
- Forum: A forum is a platform for users to discuss specific topics or interests. If you want to create a platform for discussion and collaboration among members, a forum may be the best option.
- Membership site: A membership site is a platform that provides exclusive access to content, resources, or services. If you want to create a community of paid members with access to premium content or services, a membership site may be the best option.
- Q&A site: A Q&A site is a platform that allows users to ask and answer questions on specific topics. If you want to create a community of experts or enthusiasts who can share knowledge and advice, a Q&A site may be the best option.
How to Build a Community Website in 6 easy steps -
Building a community website on WordPress can be a great way to engage your audience, create a loyal following, and foster a sense of community around your brand or niche. Here are some steps you can take to build a community on WordPress:
- Choose a suitable WordPress theme: Choose a theme that is designed for community-building, such as AtomChat. This will give you the tools and features you need to create a social network or forum.
- Install WordPress plugins: Install plugins such as AtomChat to add community-building features to your site. This plugins enable features such as user registration, profile creation, forums, groups, and private messaging.
- Set up user registration and profiles: Configure user registration and profile creation to allow users to create accounts and personalize their profiles. This is a crucial step in building a community as it allows users to identify themselves and connect with other members.
- Create forums and groups: Create forums or groups to enable discussion among members. Forums can be organized by topic, and users can post messages, reply to posts, and start new threads.
- Moderate content: Set up moderation rules to ensure that the community remains respectful and on-topic. This may include moderating user-generated content, enforcing community guidelines, and monitoring user behavior.
- Encourage engagement: Encourage members to engage with each other by asking questions, hosting events, or initiating discussions. This helps to build a sense of community and fosters a more engaged user base.
How to Choose an Interactive WordPressTheme for Building Community Websites in Wordpress
WordPress has a fantastic collection of professional and engaging themes that you can apply to your Wordpress community website. Here are the three most popular ones:
1. WordPress Theme by AtomChat
AtomChat is a powerful and feature-rich private and group chat plugin for WordPress websites. This plugin allows you to create private chat rooms on your website, where visitors can communicate with each other in a secure and private environment. AtomChat comes with a variety of features, including real-time chat notifications, and customizable chat windows. The plugin also offers a variety of customization options, making it easy to tailor the chat experience to your specific needs.
Theme is designed to be the most comprehensive WordPress theme that offers an intuitive user interface, fully customizable layouts, and a range of features like an online community. This makes it easy to create stunning websites. It's also designed to be optimized for speed and SEO, ensuring that your website loads quickly and ranks well in search engine results.
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:
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.
2. 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.
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!