There are a lot of must have features when it comes to web design but there are also a lot of options that may or may not be necessary. You’re always going to want to pick the features that contribute to the improvement of the visitor’s experience to your site. But sometimes it can be tough to gauge what will work to your benefit and what won’t. This is the case when it comes to user forums. In some cases it will be a good idea to include them on your site but in other cases it may be unnecessary. If you’re on the fence about whether or not they’d be a good addition, you should consider these pros and cons.
Pro: They Can Increase Traffic and Visitation Time
It’s a fact that most people on the Internet love to share their opinions with others. By providing users with a forum in which they can do just that, you’re also inviting them to spend more time on your site. If you implement forums and they are active, you’ll likely find that the people who visit your site end up staying much longer than they would before. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s been an increase in traffic. Some of these users may be the same that have been here many times before. If there is new and relevant content constantly being added to the forums, it’ll help you rank higher on search engines. This will eventually increase your traffic.
Con: They Need to Be Moderated
It’s a bad idea to let people discuss whatever they want without moderation on your website. Not that your site visitors are looking to start trouble, but there will always be one or two people who like to stir up trouble. This means you’re either going to have someone keep an eye on the forum or you’ll have to do it yourself. The latter will be more affordable, but it’ll also be a time drain on you. If you’re pretty busy on a daily basis, this may be tough to do. If your forums aren’t moderated well and the trolls take over, you’ll probably experience a loss in site traffic and a drop in your SEO rank.
Pro: They Give You Feedback
One of the best parts of having a user forum on your site is that it allows your visitors to tell you what they like and what they don’t like about your services, products, or website. Listening to what they say and then making the necessary fixes is an excellent way to not only improve your online reputation but also to garner respect and loyalty from your customers. Forums will also allow you to poll your visitors on important topics, like what they’d like to see from your company and your website in the future.