Adding a forum? Consider phpBB 3.0
Many of my clients, other business owners I know, and even me are either implementing, or considering deploying, discussion forums. Engaging the participation culture means that you need to empower those using your products and services so that the community can help one another.
I was at Apple in the 1990’s when the company had essentially unlimited 800# free support calls and the Austin, TX call-center exploded with humans answering phones. It was easier to pick up the phone and call Apple than it was to look something up in a manual or go online and seek an answer (and, of course, online support hadn’t yet reached any sort of critical mass and slow dialup connections made it tough to do much regardless).
When Steve Jobs returned in 1996 (the year I joined Apple), within moments it seemed that there were a lot of layoffs in Austin and a focus online as well as new policies to handle support. Apple invested in Jive Software‘s world-class forum software and the discussion groups you see at Apple today run on Jive. The result? Users and moderators can help one another rather than pick up the phone and call Apple with easily answered questions (as an example, my staff first searches discussions and 90% of the time we get answers from Apple, Adobe and other vendors we use).
One of my favorite open source discussion/forum software is phpBB and they’re releasing their version 3.0 today: phpBB, the leading open source forum and online collaboration system announced today the availability of phpBB Version 3.0. This release includes enhanced collaboration features, better security and delegated administration features, extended support for open source and commercial database management systems, and optimisation for mobile devices and search engines. phpBB is available at no cost, released under the GNU General Public License.
While the underlying technical capability has been upgraded which is vitally important, it’s the new look-n-feel features that intrigue me (e.g., themes). Why? As I’ve pointed out here and here, design matters. Too often developers forget that there are people using the underpinnings of a site or application and
they we like it when layout is intuitive, functionality obvious and the eye candy integral to the overall experience.
I suspect that we’ll see new focus on look-n-feel options that make it easier to integrate phpBB in to existing web sites, blogs and within other themes. This is a really well done open source application and worthy of serious review if you’d like to engage your community, employees or foster digital conversations in new ways…or just significantly enhance your the support of your customers and community.
About Steve Borsch
SiteGround is 'The One'
Connecting the Dots Podcast
Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.