Best Forum Software of 2018

Forums and their subsequent software are one of the legacy technologies of the internet which have persisted beyond web 2.0. For many years, the software powering bulletin boards and software has been completely outdated with terrible products. But there has been a powerful resurgence in the technology, user interfaces, and user experience behind these tools. Here we are happy to present our findings and research we did specifically for you on forum software and bulletin boards neatly into a top ten chart, enjoy!

CompanyRankingRatingPriceDescription
Muut1st9.8 out of 10$16.00 Per Month

Muut Review

A fantastic embeddable forum solution that makes use of a clean UI, integrates seamlessly with CMS's, run smoothly on mobile, and more.Full Muut Review »
Wix2nd9.8 out of 10$7.00 Per Month

Wix Review

Wix is an amazing website builder with over 500+ beautiful templates, extreme flexibility, and fantastic ease of use. Perfect for virtually any site.Full Wix Review »

Vanilla Forums

3rd9.5 out of 10$99.00 Per Month

Vanilla Forums Review

A stellar forum builder that offers an intuitive and easy to use platform, customizable forms, rich content, advanced search, and many more.Full Vanilla Forums Review »

Proboards

4th9.3 out of 10Free

Proboards Review

An intuitive, remotely hosted forum software that is easily customizable and offers tons of features at no cost.Full Proboards Review »

NodeBB

5th9 out of 10$100.00 Per Month

NodeBB Review

A forum software that offers highly interactive forums complete with social media integration, mobile optimization, media embeds, and much more.Full NodeBB Review »

Ginger

6th8.9 out of 10$19.00 Per Month

Ginger Review

An affordable, cloud-based forum software perfect for team collaborations, it comes in different price points and has a free trial.Full Ginger Review »

Plush Forums

7th9.7 out of 10$49.00 Per Month

Plush Forums Review

A loaded forum platform with mobile compatibility and features that both the builder and members will enjoy- plus an affordable price to boot.Full Plush Forums Review »

MyBB

8th8.4 out of 10Free

MyBB Review

A fantastic forum software that offers an easy to use admin panel, theme support, and even the ability to add plugins for extended functionality.Full MyBB Review »

Freeforums.org

9th8.1 out of 10Free

Freeforums.org Review

A free to use forum software that is surprisingly feature-rich, highly customizable, user-friendly, and comparable to more popular services.Full Freeforums.org Review »

phpBB

10th8.0 out of 10Free

phpBB Review

An excellent free forum software that offers a great degree of flexibility and customization, anti-spam measures, private messaging and more.Full phpBB Review »

Bulletinboards.com

11th8.0 out of 10$9.95 Per Month

Bulletinboards.com Review

A solid forum software that is easy to set up, affordable and offers tons of features -- from integrated chat rooms to mailing lists, and more.Full Bulletinboards.com Review »
Also, here are some important things we looked at for our rankings.

Notification System

The main purpose of a forum is to communicate and facilitate discussions with other people in the group; therefore, a solid notification system must be in order. Real time notification can help each participant be as active and immersed in the conversation as possible, against having to refresh the page over and over just to update the thread. Some forum software even allows for comment tagging, where you can directly mention a person in your comment and they will be notified and included in the conversation.

Platform Integration

For increased interaction and to encourage more people to participate in discussions, integrating the software into websites and social media will help. One-click installation with popular CMS and website builders like Wix, WordPress, Squarespace, and Shopify would decrease set up time significantly. For an even higher volume, sharing capabilities in Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ can make the discussion livelier and more interesting, and have the possibility of going viral.

Mobile Optimization

The vast majority of the population carry a mobile device in their person on a daily basis, with most of them using it as the primary means of communication both on and offline. A mobile optimized forum software can let participants weigh in on the conversation conveniently even when they are on the go. The usability on a mobile device should be on the same level as when browsing via computer or laptop, otherwise, users who are frustrated with the interface and unresponsive buttons will just leave the discussion.

Customizability

While this may be purely for aesthetics, it would be nice if you can change up the colors, font, layout and overall theme of the forum to better fit your brand. Some forum software have an array of professionally designed yet customizable themes in their platform which can definitely give your page a clean and sleek appearance, which users will appreciate.

8 Comments

Leave a Reply to Bo Kauffmann Cancel reply

  • UPDATE ON Muut:
    Muut costs $16 per month and most users would want their own hosting at $36 per month. If they want access to their user list its $486 per month. I’d say this would drop the rating 72/100 user provided

    • Hi Jake,

      Thanks for the update! 🙂 Their pricing scheme is still largely the same though–they just removed the free plan. Moreover, the $36/mo Mini Plan offers a bit more value than, say, PlushForums’$49/mo plan. For starters, Muut offers unlimited simultaneous users online, while PlushForums starts at 100 members.

  • I am really pleased to read this blog posts which includes lots
    of helpful information, thanks for providing these information.

    • Glad you liked it! 🙂

  • Time for another update. Nodebb does have a free trial, but their plans start at $100 per month

    • Thanks for the heads up, Bo! We will update it ASAP.

      • why so expensive? $20, $50~$100 month?? for forums… you could get a whole plan @inmotionhosting for a 10th of the price and get way more value for money.

        • We don’t know why the companies set their prices that way–we are simply an independent review site. 🙂

          Also, people have different needs. If they only needed to set up a forum, going for a full hosting solution might not be ideal for them. A dedicated forum platform, in this case, is the best way to go.