How to Create a Forum in WordPress Using Posts Table Pro (2 Methods)

Last Updated: February 1, 2020 5 comments

If you use WordPress to build your website, one of the things you’ll benefit from is its inherent flexibility. In other words, you can use WordPress to do a lot of things that aren’t apparent at first glance. This includes the ability to create a forum for your website or online community.

Since WordPress isn’t set up to handle forum functionality by default, you’ll need an additional tool or two. For instance, you can use the Posts Table Pro plugin to organize and display all your forum threads, topics or replies in a neat table layout. There are two methods for accomplishing this, using basic WordPress features or a dedicated WordPress forum plugin like bbPress.

A GIF example of a forum in action.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through both ways to create a forum with Posts Table Pro. Before that, let’s talk about why you might need to create a forum in the first place!

Why you might want to create a forum in WordPress

Forums have been a staple of the internet for some time now. In fact, they can seem almost ‘old-school’ in comparison to newer social media tools.

An example of an online forum.

However, forums still come in handy on various types of websites. Here are just a few reasons to create a forum for your WordPress website:

  • Forums enable you to communicate directly with your site’s users through a message board (also called a discussion forum). You can answer their questions, provide advice, solicit opinions, and even just chat.
  • In addition, forums let your community members interact with each other. They can form connections, help one another out, and build a sense of community.
  • If you provide products or services, you can even create a forum dedicated to support, so customers can get help quickly.

When it comes to building any type of forum website, we like to recommend WordPress. It’s a beginner-friendly yet very powerful platform. If there’s anything you want to do with it that isn’t built into the platform’s core – such as create a forum – you can usually get the job done with the right plugins.

How to create a forum in WordPress using Posts Table Pro (2 methods)

There are several dedicated plugins that help you create a forum on your WordPress site. However, many of them provide a few customization options. If you want more control over how your forum looks and functions, you’ll want to pick up the Posts Table Pro plugin:

This is a versatile tool that lets you create a table and insert it into any page or post in your site. Is displays information in a highly-customizable table layout, and you can determine exactly how it appears and works. You can even enable users to search, sort, and filter the table to find what they need quickly.

To see what Posts Table Pro can do in a broad sense, we’d suggest checking out the dedicated demo site.

Visit the Posts Table Pro demo!

Right now, we’re going to focus on how it can be used to create an SEO-friendly forum in WordPress. First, we’ll explore how to turn your entire site into a forum using the platform’s built-in features. Then we’ll walk through how to use Posts Table Pro in combination with popular forum software for WordPress such as bbPress.

Posts Table Pro
The easy way to create a create a forum in WordPress.

Method 1: Turn your WordPress site into a forum

Let’s start with the simplest way to create a forum in WordPress, by using regular pages and/or posts as forum topics. You can do this using only Posts Table Pro and WordPress’ built-in functionality. You don’t even need a complicated WordPress forum plugin. This method works well if you want to turn your entire WordPress site into a forum, or add a forum to an existing website.

How it works

  1. You’ll add each forum ‘topic’ or ‘thread’ as a separate page, post or custom post in WordPress.
  2. Users will interact with the forum by adding comments at the bottom of each topic/thread. This uses the comments system that comes with WordPress itself. You get all the benefits of WordPress comments, such as nested comments, Gravatar images, and more. (Or if you prefer, then you can replace this with a dedicated comments system such as Disqus.)
  3. Your forum will be displayed in a table layout, with each topic or thread listed on its own row in the table. You can choose what other information to display on the forum page, such as the date you created the thread, categories, tags, etc. This way, people will be able to find the topics you cover through search engines like Google.

It’s straightforward to set up, and simple to use.

Setup instructions

To begin, you’ll want to purchase the Posts Table Pro plugin. Then you can install and activate it on your WordPress site, following this setup guide. Don’t forget to activate your license key as well.

Get Posts Table Pro!

Next, you’ll need to decide whether to use posts or pages for your forum topics. Posts are usually the better option, given their inherent flexibility and the fact that they have comments turned on by default. However, either content type will work. Or if you’re already using posts and pages for something else, follow this guide to create a dedicated custom post type for your WordPress forum.

Whichever content type you decide to use for your forum, make sure that each page/post has a WordPress comments form at the bottom. This is how your audience will interact on the forum.

After that, you can set up the table that display the contents of your forum. To do this, go to Settings > Posts Table Pro. Under Post type, select either post or page (or any other WordPress post type):

The post type option in Posts Table Pro.

Technically, this is all you need to do. However, you may want to use the other settings on this page to configure the way your forum table is organized.

Recommended settings

In particular, we’d suggest taking a look at the following options:

  • Columns: Here, you can choose exactly what information about each forum topic will appear in the table. If the available columns aren’t enough, you can also create custom fields and taxonomies and display them in the forum too.
  • Content length and Excerpt length: These settings let you decide how long text snippets displayed in the table should be.
  • Sort by: You could change this to Date modified, so topics with the most recent activity will show up first, or use Comment count to prioritize the most popular topics.
  • Search filters: Selecting Show based on columns in table will place drop-down menus at the top of your new forum page, so users can find topics they’re interested in quickly.

The other settings here are worth checking out as well, of course. When you’re done making changes, hit the Save button at the bottom of the page.

Now list your forum content in a table

Then, create a new page and give it a title. This will be the ‘home’ for your new forum table.

The next step depends on whether you’re using the Classic Editor or Gutenberg:

  • Classic Editor – Click the ‘Insert Posts Table’ toolbar button. This adds a [posts_table] shortcode to the page.
    Insert shortcode icon in WordPress text editor's toolbar.

Gutenberg – Add the [product_table] shortcode to a ‘Shortcode’ block.