Platform recommendations - new community, small budget


(heather linford) #1

I am starting a new space for my online community to chat and engage with one another. It needs to be hosted on our wordpress.org blog and I at first am beginning with a small budget but ideally the platform I use has the ability for investment to become a larger more sophisticated area.


(Sarah Hawk) #2

Hi @hlinno ,
There are a few considerations outside of budget when choosing a platform.

  1. Is it a new community that you’re starting from scratch?
  2. Do you have any technical experience in your team?
  3. How small is a small budget? And is it ongoing (can you pay a monthly hosting fee?)
  4. What is the purpose of the community? (Is posting images going to be important? Or videos? Events?)

The two most obvious solutions that spring to mind given your requirement for WordPress integration and a small budget are bbPress and Discourse. bbPress was written by the creators of WP and allows you to include forums in your existing WP website without changing your default theme style. Discourse is what this community sits on (and if you go to our homepage you’ll see it integrated with WordPress).

bbPress is free and is easy to implement and customise out of the box if you have no technical experience, but it has limitations as a forum platform and doesn’t offer an amazing experience. Discourse is free and open-source, but you’d need to pay a small monthly fee for hosting. It is a much better (in my opinion) forum experience and is very scalable.

I’ve really only scratched the surface here – feel free to ask any specific questions.


(heather linford) #3

Hi, great questions!

  1. It is not a new community, as an online fundraising site we have a very large online community who we connect with daily - we just have never had a place to have a conversation all in one place (e.g we are across social but it feels disjointed).
  2. We do have technical experience in the team, I have a little but the less technical the better - however I am open to being more technical if that means better platform options.
  3. I would like to keep the costs below $500 for initial set up and then ongoing costs of no more than $100 per month if possible.
  4. The purpose of the community is to connect our community of awesome fundraisers together. To give them a space to talk about all things fundraising, or marathon running or even just ideas for healthy eats. Our community love to talk but without a dedicated space to allow them to do this I can’t say for certain what it’s purpose will be other than the current vague explanation. Really like the Threadless community as an example.

I will take a look at your suggestions - thanks so much for your help!


(Sarah Hawk) #4

Excellent, then you don’t have to take migration into account.

[quote=“hlinno, post:3, topic:1099”]
We do have technical experience in the team, I have a little but the less technical the better - however I am open to being more technical if that means better platform options.
[/quote] That leaves both bbPress and Discourse in the running.

[quote=“hlinno, post:3, topic:1099”]
I would like to keep the costs below $500 for initial set up and then ongoing costs of no more than $100 per month if possible.
[/quote] Both above options are free to set up.

Hosting for bbPress falls under your WP site (it is simply a plugin).
You can read more about it here and there are specific installation instructions here.

Discourse would require separate hosting, but no set up (they will do that for you).
More info from the Discourse guys here and a cheaper alternative here. We use the former (we required migration and I like the support that Discourse offers) but I believe @ale_fattorini use the latter and may have something to add.

[quote=“hlinno, post:3, topic:1099”]
Really like the Threadless community as an example.
[/quote] If that aesthetic appeals, you might like Nodebb. I’ve been researching them a bit lately but don’t know anyone that has personal experience.

I’ve only given you two options here out of a great number. Others may have opinions, and I welcome those.


Discourse vs NodeBB
(Alessio Fattorini) #5

Really cheap, good support and always smooth updates! No issue till now, it works pretty well for me.


(Sarah Hawk) #6

How are you getting on with this @hlinno?


(heather linford) #7

Hi Sarah, I have gone with the Facebook group route to begin with to test the water and find out what our community want from us before we invest in a build on our own platform - have you any case studies of other businesses trying this first?


(Sarah Hawk) #8

[quote=“hlinno, post:7, topic:1099”]
have you any case studies of other businesses trying this first?
[/quote] Yes – I have actually done it myself, with success. There are quite a few considerations though.

What it does allow you to do is gauge whether there is a general interest in the subject and what types of conversations people will have around it.

What it doesn’t do is indicate how active the community might be if you try to migrate it to another platform. Facebook is already a habit that people have formed. They are on it every day and you can leverage that habit to get your content in front of them, which is fantastic. But to extrapolate from that the viability of a community on a platform that would require a new habit to be formed is tenuous.

I wrote about this in more detail here if you’re interested.


(Priscilla McClay) #9

They are a charity rather than a business, but I believe that is how Mind started Elefriends, their mental health support community.


(Sarah Hawk) #10

3 posts were split to a new topic: Discourse vs NodeBB


So, what are you working on?