In the past, creating and maintaining a web forum was an extremely time- and effort-consuming task. Not everyone could set up an effective, feature-rich web forum: forum administrators used complex tools to design, develop, publish and then constantly update their sites. Luckily for us, these days are over :). Today, virtually anyone can create a professional-looking forum packed with complex functionality without having to hire designers and coders. On a par with professional open-source platforms for programmers there exist many Do-It-Yourself site builders offering excellent Forum building capabilities.
Krishna Moorthy D, the BlogBeatz site owner has earlier shared his experience with GoDaddy and India Get Online site makers. Today, I’d like to continue his research and focus on uCoz website builder, a multi-faceted SaaS (software as a service) platform for newbies and professionals. It’s rather easy-to-use, requires no downloads and remains free as long as you need – their free accounts never expire (provided that you don’t abandon your site).
How It Works
uCoz is a complex system of modules which are structural site units responsible for different functions. For instance, there are Online Chat, Users, Web Polls, Site Catalog, Blog, E-Shop and other modules, each with its own set of fully customizable properties. These modules can be used separately (E-Shop or Forum for example), or can be mixed ad lib – imagine a blog with an integrated Forum, E-shop, Online Chat and Photo Albums.
So now, when you have a better understanding about how the system works, let’s take a closer look at the Forum module itself.
uCoz-powered Forums are fully customizable, both in terms of design and functionality. For example, you can use unique sets of icons and buttons, protect discussions with a password, change number of posts/threads per page and even set maximum uploaded file size. Each site visitor can create a personal profile with your Forum and leave messages, open threads and even kick-start whole new forums if you so choose (you can manage user rights easily via the system).
Once you’ve finished your forum, consider adding handy blocks and extensions to it to keep your visitors engaged. These could be topical polls, ad boards, weather forecast widget and any other extension you find useful for your forum. All this is available within your uCoz account – no need to shop around for third-party plugins.
It’s important to note that the system offers free templates including brand-new responsive templates. I’ve tested two of these and was very satisfied – no scrolling or resizing, just excellent user experience: easy navigation, fast load time and modern look.
uCoz is a freemium web service. This means that you can get a basic uCoz account without spending a dime (no credit cards details required). All accounts remain free until you decide to unlock more features or get rid of the annoying banner ad (yeah, that’s the most distressing thing about most freemium web services). If you’re satisfied with the system – you can remove the ad at $3.09 per month (including hosting, support and other perks).
Besides uCoz, Forum building capabilities can be found in Wix website builder – there are standalone Forum building applications in their rich Apps Market (free and paid). If you’re handy with codes and find site builders boring, you may want to check out phpBB or BBpress forum building platforms – both have proven successful. Good luck and feel free to share your experience in comments below this post.
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