Easy-to-use forum solution, maybe a suite of apps, other than GoogleApps
January 25, 2014 1:53 PM   Subscribe

Our non-profit [a Quaker Meeting] is looking to expand our online offerings, both internally--for our members and attenders [private forums, and possibly more real-time social features], and also a more friendly and informative public-facing website than we have now. Any of the solutions should be easy to administer for people with middling to pretty good internet/computer knowledge. We are looking at Google Apps for non-profits, but so far, I'm finding their Google Groups a pretty poor approximation of a web forum. So I'd like to know what other options may be out there for us. We'd ideally like a full-featured suite of products that can grow with us, but if we build something piecemeal, are probably most interested in first having a user-friendly but robust forum. Free is ideal, inexpensive could be considered, based on features. We are a 501(c)(3). Would love pointers to software or cloud solutions, but am also interested in exploring groups that are already using such software [if they are public].
posted by QuakerMel to Computers & Internet (1 answer total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If the following falls within your "middling to pretty good internet/computer knowledge" skills and experience, I recommend:

* Web hosting (BlueHost, normally $6.99 per month, or DreamHost, normally $8.99 per month, are affordable and will serve your needs; others will do what you need as well).

* WordPress for your public-facing website. There are many themes to choose from, and a lot of add-on functionality to allow for growth and flexibility. Free and open source.

* phpBB for your private forums. Note: although I am a current user of the above suggestions, it has been several years since I have run forum software, so consider this recommendation with a grain of salt). Free and open source.

You will need to use ftp/sftp to install the software (I recommend skipping the web host's automatic installers) and become comfortable with the control panels for each of the packages. Installation will be the portion requiring the most technical knowledge; running them won't be too challenging.

The software consists of two separate packages, but since they are targeting two separate groups (members vs public) this shouldn't be a problem. You can change color/theme/design for one or both in order to make them more similar, if necessary. The biggest drawback is that account information won't be shared between them (i.e. people must log in separately to each program).
posted by 1367 at 3:44 PM on January 25, 2014

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