What is the best forum software?
The best forum software is the one that best meets the needs of your user community. The essence of a forum is to offer customers and users a convenient place to meet online, post questions and get answers. When you provide a good, simple platform for discussion, you've given them the best forum possible.
Community in Zendesk Guide develops customer engagement organically by letting users build their own connections on a platform that you brand and tailor to your requirements.
The forum difference
Smart organizations put their customers and users in contact with one another. The resulting communities support the brand, give the organization a life beyond its website and, most important, offer members support for products and services.
Forum software is designed like an internet bulletin board where visitors are free to create and post comments, questions and answers. The software includes an option to moderate posts before they go live to eliminate abusive language and spam.
Your customers expect you to provide support and answers even when your support desk is closed. Develop and host your online community around the best forum software you can find.
Most companies find that implementing forum software reduces the burden on the support staff. As the community adds more discussion and information, the forum becomes an alternative source of support. It propagates the brand and provides valuable options to otherwise distressed users.
The software makes it easy for you to mine the collective wisdom that your customers post to your forum. Their comments show you the top-of-mind issues people have with your company and products. Create your own content out of their solutions and offer it on your website.
When to build your forum
You're better off using forum software to build your community yourself, rather than seeing it spring up spontaneously in social media, where it is harder to moderate.
Many companies start with free, open source forum software. That is a good place to start, but very few open source projects have the staying power of a branded, supported solution. If you host your community software package on premises, IT will probably have to manage the database and any interfaces and plugins. On the other hand, you can spin up a simple cloud implementation with little more than a credit card.
Often, the software driving the forum is written in PHP. With a bit of time and PHP expertise, you are free to build a discussion platform around your own branding and preferences.
Zendesk Community forums
As part of Zendesk Guide, Community provides powerful features in an online forum solution. Community includes software you can use to extend most free forum platforms into a thriving, online exchange. It picks up where most open source software leaves off, with features that cross over to the help desk, escalate posts to trouble tickets, scan existing content for similar posts and give you creative license for branding.