bbPress is an awesome plugin designed for those who want to easily incorporate a discussion forum inside a WordPress site. It’s powered by Automattic, the creators of WordPress – so, in a certain sense, you can’t really go wrong with it.
Forums are one of the cornerstone interaction patterns of the Internet: they allow free discussion to take place, on a number of topics (called threads) which users can propose and contribute to – as opposed to blog comments, where the discussion is strictly focused on the topic of the posts – which are typically only written / decided by blog authors.
A forum can be a very useful tool for accomplishing a number of tasks: as an example, we do use a bbPress powered forum on this particular site for handling support questions – and it’s great to see sometimes customers help each other figure out something – or leave a useful, detailed feedback regarding a CSS Hero feature, leaving room for other users to chime in and have their say.
A forum can be thought as a number of rooms where discussion takes place – but the more its users are sharing a common interest, passion, or specific need, the more value the forum will produce – at little cost.
There are many stand-alone forum engines, like PHPbb, vBulletin, Vanilla forums – former webmasters surely have heard these names a number of times. They have quite a different approach compared to bbPress – offering a more feature-comprehensive, but less modular, heavier, solution.
bbPress was initially a stand-alone package itself, easily syncable to WordPress – but since several years it became a WordPress plugin. Best choice ever made, as it opens the door for a tighter integration between the blog and the forum interaction.
It’s a heavenly addition to WordPress – especially if your site already has a number of registered users inside your main WordPress install and you don’t want to go through a painful integration process to sync users and logins – something that sucks big time.
If you haven’t considered yet bbPress as the forum engine for your site, today you have a big reason to try it out. But let’s step back a bit. Given that for some good reason you want a forum on your site, let’s see if bbPress can match with your desires and specific needs.
Some good reasons to use bbPress as a forum board
- It’s free – you can test it out in a few minutes. You can install directly from your WordPress site’s back-end. It will take a bit of time to understand it’s logic, but it will be worth it.
- It shares your Blog’s users and login cookies, delivering a seamless login experience
- Less code bloat compared to other famous alternatives, so it’s fast and scalable, should your community grow. In other words, it’s not that heavy database-wise, especially compared to its competitors.
- It’s extendable through the use of plugins. We shall mention the useful bbPress forum extensions written by Pippin, a cool WordPress guy from the UK. We happily use some of them in our support forum.
- You can integrate forum contents easily in your WordPress Blog via built-in shortcodes and widgets. As an example, provided that you have a WordPress blog with some decent traffic, showing on your blog’s sidebar the latest hot discussion topics can be a good idea to fuel up your forum. Nobody wants a forum that looks like an empty hotel in the middle of the desert. Content is king, and attracting free content is a crucial task.
- It uses pretty permalinks and handles SEO out of the box much better than competitors, which require sometimes paid add ons. Your forum will be loved by Google and indexed better than the average joe’s
- It stores content into standard Wp Custom Post Types, not in a black box – so that if you can code some PHP it’s easier to get started building the custom forum feature you need.
- It comes out of the box as a basic, bare-bones, but fully functional forum: If you want to tweak it, and you know WordPress, bbPress might be for you. If you’re looking for the most feature-dense, flashy, special fx, it’s not for you.
- Last but not least, it’s appearance will somehow blend with your active Theme, and can now be customized with CSS Hero.
Customizing forum appearance is often a tragedy
If you ever tried customizing and applying some custom style to a forum engine, you might know how much all this process sucks – given that you have good HTML / CSS knowledge, figuring out which template file has to be edited…and where …and how….is often a daunting task if you’re not an in-depth connoisseur of the specific platform you’re tinkering.
If you opt for bbPress, you will love to know we prepared an easy way for you to customize its appearance, just playing around with it’s neat, intuitive live-editing user interface.
CSS Hero can instantly get you started adding custom styling to 99% of the elements of bbPress’ built-in forum template.
You will be able to adapt your bbPress forum to your company branding / colours in a few minutes. Promised.
The importance of being a CSS Hero: customizing without touching core files
The typical thing that happens when a beginner programmer starts customizing a forum engine, is that after you’ve done all this code tinkering, you discover that upgrading the forum will erase your hardly achieved personalizations. So you fear upgrading or you have to take great precaution in doing it – procrastinating the process for a moment “when you’ll have time to figure out“.
Anyone who had the unlucky role of administrating a real-world forum knows the importance of keeping the platform updated, in order to stay protected against malicious attacks that so often plague forums. Nobody likes to wake up and see their precious forum spammed with links to porn sites or special sales of magic pills for men.
Using CSS Hero, you won’t have to manually edit *ANY* template file – thus. you won’t fear upgrading your forum platform to keep it secure from stupid hacker attacks. Everyday’s minor security upgrades go by without a hitch. And that’s pretty much priceless.
Give it a try: a live demo is here
Just click the button below to see how you can edit your bbPress forum’s styling with CSS Hero – the right way.
Watch this 1min intro-video:
CSS Hero can help you deeply and quickly customize the bbPress Plugin, solving some common issues like:
- How to customize fonts in the bbPress WordPress Plugin, to make font biggers or change typeface for titles and header texts
- How to change CSS background image on the bbPress WordPress Plugin and build background fades
- How to change colors and styles on bbPress WordPress Plugin