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Community Website Builder: The Key to Building a Thriving Online Community

Learn what features to look for in a community website builder, their benefits, and the top 5 most popular platforms in the market.
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Last updated
October 23, 2023

Building an online community from scratch and maintaining it isn’t easy. The process can require a lot of time, effort, and even hiring a developer. 

Fortunately there’s an alternative: Utilizing a community website builder instead

A community website builder is a great tool for brands that want to build their own standalone community without any coding knowledge. 

They offer many features, including discussion boards, private messaging, and integrations. These make it possible for communities to host conversations, build customer relationships, and grow their audience all in one place. Additionally, a community website builder comes with a range of customizations that allow brands to design the look and feel of their community website in a few clicks. 

At the same time, it’s difficult to know which website builder is right for your community. And with studies showing that 79% of customers search for another site if the one they visit doesn’t live up to expectations — you don’t want to choose the wrong one.

In this post, we’ll discuss what features to look for, their benefits, and the top 5 most popular community website builders in the market.

Let’s get started.

The benefits of a community website builder

A community website builder is a powerhouse for any brand that wants to build its own website. Here’s why:

Ease of use 

A good community website removes unnecessary steps that allow companies to create a clean and professional-looking online community within a short period of time. 

For example, you can add elements to your website in just a few clicks. These can include a forum, knowledge base, FAQ page, events page, document page, job board, or other web pages — without writing a single line of code. 

At the same time, a community site builder makes coding accessible if you want to build custom functionalities.                                                               

Good community website builders also come with great beginner guides and extensive documentation — making the tool easy to understand and implement.

Customization options 

Delivering a customized experience your community members will love is essential. Studies show that 59% of global consumers crave a beautiful website design over simplicity. And a community website builder with a long list of customizations makes this possible. 

Here’s some of the typical elements you can customize using a website community builder:

  • Layout: Publish your community website in different layouts. This can range from changing the main navigation sidebar, header, content area, top bar, and more.
  • Colors and typography: When it comes to typography and colors, most community website builders support a variety of options. These can range from contemporary sans-serif fonts to bold colors — allowing you to choose what works best for your brand.  
  • Explore page: Design and arrange a collection of your posts and other components of your community and display them on a landing page. This will allow users to discover parts of your community they have missed.
  • Domain: Have the ability to move your community website to a custom domain or subdomain that has your company’s branded name. 
  • Images: Upload your own images throughout your community website. Additionally, you can crop, delete, duplicate, and resize them.
  • Profile fields: Add or remove profile fields that make sense to your audience, like location, birthday, bio, skill level, phone number, job title, and more. This helps your members better understand and connect with one another. 

Increased engagement and interaction 

Data shows that only 25% of members actively engage with their online community. At the same time, the most active members add 12 times more value than average members. This means it's worthwhile for brands to invest in a community website builder since they offer the tools to boost user engagement and interaction.

For example, a community website builder makes it possible for users to interact with one another by facilitating and creating discussions, content organization, and member connections. At the same time, it encourages engagement by offering features like reactions, comments, private messaging, group chats, and much more.

Additionally, an explore page allows them to engage with different types of personalized content you want to promote, like popular or related posts they usually interact with. Indeed, 99% of marketing professionals said personalization helps advance customer relationships. 

Likewise, the help of a search bar allows members to use keywords to find the information they’re looking for. This boosts engagement since customers can trust your brand as the go-to source for finding the information they need.

Improved organization and management

Community website builders have several tools that simplify and automate community management activities — allowing you to support and manage your members effectively. An invaluable feature, since 16% of communities have no full-time community management staff and 33% only have one full-time team member. 

A community website builder allows managers to run their community on a tight ship. This is done by using moderation tools like a keyword blocklist, profanity filter, moderation panel, and moderation rules — making your community a safe place for members to thrive.

Likewise, using a community builder’s features that keep your online community well organized makes it easy for members to discover topics, comment on posts, view content, submit information, and contact other members of the community.

A good website builder will also offer analytics so managers can monitor how their community is performing. These insights help businesses make data-informed decisions about how to continue to manage and organize their community in the future.

How to choose the right community website builder

There are many community website builders available for you to choose from. To narrow down your search, you’ll need to consider features, user-friendliness, integrations, budget, and costs. Below we break each of these down into detail.

Features to consider 

Data shows that for a customer to feel satisfied with their experience viewing content it should: 

  • Display well (65%)
  • Hold attention (64%)
  • Appeals to customers’ design sensibilities (54%)
  • Personalizes their interests (49%)
  • Works across multiple devices (45%)

This means your community website builder needs to come with a lot of features to meet these demands — ensuring people have a good experience. 

Here’s some of the features to keep in mind:

  • Customization: The platform must empower you to build a community with unique layouts and design options. Your community website should be uniquely yours.
  • Activity feed: Display the newest and most relevant information on your users’ feed. This could be a post, article, video, or any other piece of content. 
  • Moderation: Tools that allow moderators to manage comments and discussions by allowing moderators to edit and remove content. Additionally, automatically flag language deemed inappropriate or that contains profanity.
  • Analytics: Manage your community with advanced analytics. Identify which posts perform the best, what users are the most active, what content drives the most engagement, and more.
  • Gamification: Motivate and incentivize users to engage in your online community through gamification. This can be done by assigning badges to members based on their activity level and expertise. 
  • Sub-group creation: Run multiple sub-groups within your community so users have a space to communicate with each other about different topics.
  • Embeddability: Easily embed your entire community or specific parts into your phone app or product.
  • Translations: Provide users with the ability to translate content into different languages.
  • Advanced search: Help users find the content they’re searching for by allowing them to narrow down searches with a granular filter.
  • Pre-built templates: Get a head start on the development and design of your community by using templates. Likewise, customize them easily so they match your brand.
  • Paid membership: Make elements or your entire online community accessible to only paid members.


If your online community is difficult to use, members will leave or become inactive. Indeed, data shows that only 6.1% of SaaS prospects find software easy to use. A community website builder solves this issue, since it can build a community that’s easy for members to participate in. 

For starters, it can build a website that’s easy to use by making sure it has clear navigation. And it can offer up helpful information quickly so users don't get lost or frustrated from a lack of guidance or search filters.

These features and others encourage users to explore, engage and promote your community. Increasing the chances of them becoming become loyal members. 

Integration with other tools

Choosing a community website builder that integrates with other tools is invaluable when building an online community. It will allow you to: 

  • Access multiple tools easily
  • Add extra functionality to your community
  • Eliminate the need to switch between platforms

Moreover, integrating your online community with third-party apps like Google Analytics or the email marketing platform MailChimp provides a holistic view of engagement within your online community. This is because the integrations share data from one system to the next.

Ultimately, integrations allow you to experience an enhanced workflow — while strengthening your community’s online presence.

Budget and cost considerations

When choosing the best website builder, it must fit your budget while having the features you need to build your community. Comparing features and pricing plans is key when searching for a solution, whether you own a membership website, SaaS company, online store, sell online courses, or have a community of entrepreneurs who are searching for exclusive content. 

It’s important to note that while some free website builders offer a drag-and-drop feature, customer support, membership site, monetization methods, and even SEO capabilities — they have restrictions in terms of functionality — with free plans having limited features.

Spending the time to explore both premium plans can provide you with a balance between features and cost — so you get the most value for your money (and credit card). 

Five popular community website builders

Here's a list of the five most popular community website builders for you to choose from.


Bettermode Platform
Bettermode Platform

Bettermode is a complete solution for creating and maintaining stunning community-based websites. Its easy-to-use interface allows for a wide range of customization options — and lets brands create a feature-rich community website without any coding knowledge. 

Additionally, it offers secure hosting, reliable support, custom SSL, and detailed documentation. The platform also integrates with third-party apps like Intercom, Slack, Zapier, and more. Overall, Bettermode is a great choice for anyone looking to build an engaging online community.

Let’s take a look at a few more of Bettermode’s features in detail.

Community templates 

Bettermode has a comprehensive library of templates that makes the website building process straightforward — even for those with minimal technical knowledge. They are:

  • Discussion forum
  • Ideation
  • Q&A
  • Events
  • Help center
  • Resources

Bettermode’s templates are responsive, meaning they’ll look great on any website or app.  


Bettermode provides all the necessary customization features to build a community website that stands out from your competitors. This includes different fonts and typography, layout, or adding images of your choice. 

Basic customization - navigation, colors, typography

You can further customize the community by selecting and arranging various blocks available in Community Customizer.

Advanced customization using Blocks
Advanced customization using Blocks


Bettermode's analytics features provide users with comprehensive insights about their community website. It allows you to track over 30 metrics, including:

  • New members
  • Popular days of the week
  • Popular hours of the week
  • Active members
  • Total posts viewed by a member
  • Page views
  • Activity by role
Community Analytics by Bettermode

Apps and integrations

Connect your community with apps you already use and seamlessly merge workflows. You can even build custom apps for your community to add new functionalities on top of the Bettermode Platform.

Bettermode App Store
Bettermode App Store

Embed tools

Drive engagement and community participation by embedding your community into your website or mobile app in a way that it looks like an integral part of the website.

Embed tools
Embedding your Bettermode community into apps


Bettermode allows its users to host their communities in different or multiple languages. This means you have a variety of languages to choose from as your communities default language.

Likewise, members can translate the posts and replies they see in your online community into their preferred language.

multilingual community
Building multilingual community with Bettermode



Discourse is an open-source community website builder. This means it allows you to modify the code so you can customize the look & feel of your website. It’s simple and easy to use — while still providing the necessary features for building a functional online community website. 

These features include widgets for WordPress, adding custom search engines, editing plugins, creating a members only section, adding moderators, and setting up categories, threads, and topics. Additionally, it comes with private messaging and allows subscribers to reply to discussions by email.

Vanilla Forums

Vanilla Forums

Acquired by Higher Logic in 2021, Vanilla Forums is a popular community website builder. It comes with many features that help companies build loyalty and increase engagement with their members. 

For example, its gamification system has a points-based reward approach. This gives users a reason to participate in their online community because they’ll receive points for answering questions, receiving reactions from the content they post, and more. 

You can also create a product feedback section within your community with Vanilla Forums, allowing for product improvement as a result. It also supports notifications, social logins, ecommerce and social network integrations, and moderation of member activity.



Flarum is a open-source website community builder. Its simple user interface delivers a good user experience. It allows you to build an online community that’s customizable and has a clearn design. 

It offers various advanced features such as tags, groups, and permissions to customize different communities based on their use. 

It also comes with an easy and quick installation process that allows brands to set up their own community forum site in less than 10 minutes. 

For those tech-savvy individuals looking to take full advantage of the platform — there are community resources, themes, and documentation available to help them customize their forum to perfection. 



Hivebrite is a community website builder designed for education alumni, nonprofits, and professional networks. It allows your community members to post jobs with its job board feature. At the same time, it offers management and moderation features like instant notifications and the ability to edit and delete all new publications.

Additionally, Hivebrite’s users can create a branded mobile app that their community members can download on Google Play or the AppStore. The app can be customized to include your brand’s colors, logo, name, and more. 


All in all, community website builders offer a range of benefits that will supercharge your large or small business. Everything from easy-to-use templates, integrations, domain names, and customizations that’ll help bring the look and feel of your community together — forging customer relationships and loyalty​​ over time. People will join your community and stay around as active members. And all of this without needing to create and execute a web development project. 

Bettermode’s community website builder offers a host of features. Take a look at them here and get started building your own community hub today.

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