The bbPress WordPress forum plugin should work with any modern WordPress theme, but there’s likely to be some formatting and display issues that make an explicitly bbPress-ready WordPress theme desirable. Here are a few bbPress 2 themes, and we’ll evaluate which ones are easy to use and have good support.
Theme Options for bbPress 2
- bbPress forum demo at http://community.presscrew.com (Berlin version of their Infinity theme).
- Edit: Infinitythemes looks to be no longer in business.
This premium theme is built for buddypress, so it’s ideal if you want your site to branch out and become a social network. It’s also been optimized to work in a multisite setting. The theme costs $50-$70 depending on the promotion they’re running, and support is via their forums.
PageLines bbPress WordPress Plugin
- The bbPress plugin for PageLines is only compatible with the PageLines Framework.
The forum looks clean, albeit a bit “barebones”, so you’ll need to dive into the css to get it looking how you want:
Drawbacks of PageLines for bbPress
PageLines does have a committed support staff with live chat (available mon-fri, 6am-3pm PST), but that support will cost you. It’s $397 + $19 a month if you want their multisite and integrations support package (Mediawiki, Vanilla Forums, bbPress). If you don’t need any integrations, multisite support or a developer license to use the theme on unlimited sites, then there is a $197 + $14/month option. Also note that PageLines is not a theme for beginning users. You’re expected to edit your style.css & functions.php files (in your child theme) to make customizations.
- Demo site is located at http://cheerapp.pogoking.net/
- Documentation is available at http://cheerapp.pogoking.net/documentation/
This bbPress theme is a bit different than the other themes. CheerApp is a theme that’s focused on providing your end users support. As such, it has FAQ and Knowledgebase custom post types. The bbPress topics have custom extended functionality for tagging posts with statuses such as ‘resolved’, ‘not resolved’, ‘general question’ or ‘announcements’. The theme costs $50, and since it’s a one-man development team, support is probably not going to be as prompt or as thorough compared to other options.
CheerApp Theme Customizations
- You can change the text / color for the thread status icons in the bbp-functions.php file.
- You can make the knowledge base show full articles when you click on the categories sidebar (useful if you’ll only one article per category). To do this, edit the loop-knowledgebase.php file located in theme directory, line 30. Change
- To create widgets to display FAQ groups and knowledgebase categories, try adding all taxonomy terms to a custom menu and then use custom menu widget.
CheerApp is an app theme and as such has some built-in features for selling your product or service:
Call to action
The call to action appears directly below the slider gallery:
You can disable the ‘Call to Action’ panel in theme options, under ‘Call to Action’ settings.
Home Page Slider
The front slider can be on a timer to automatically scroll through different featured posts. This makes it easy to highlight various features of your service.
Skeleton is a responsive bbPress theme that is free to download and use.
- The demo is at http://demos.simplethemes.com/skeleton/.
- Documentation for the Skeleton them is located at http://demos.simplethemes.com/skeleton/documentation
- You can download the theme at https://github.com/simplethemes/skeleton_wp
- The support forum for skeleton is at Simplethemes Skeleton Forum, but they require a paid membership to post questions and receive support($99/year).
You’ll notice the nice, clean layout that this theme produces for your bbPress forum.
Because it’s responsive, it will look good on iPhone,iPad,and Droid devices.
Shortcodes for bbPress
Once you decide on your bbPress theme, you still need to layout your forum within your theme and get everything to sit right in the page. To do this, you can use the various bbPress shortcodes that are available to you. You can put the following bbPress shortcodes in the following areas:
- Html areas
[bbp-forum-index] – Show the forum index/archive
[bbp-single-forum id=$forum_id] – Show a single forums topics
[bbp-topic-index] – Show the topics index/archive
[bbp-topic-form] – Show the new topic form
[bbp-single-topic id=$topic_id] – Show a single topic
[bbp-reply-form] – Show the topic reply form
[bbp-topic-tags] – Show a tag cloud of all topic tags
[bbp-single-topic-tag] – Show the topics within a specific tag
[bbp-single-view] – Show topics associated with a specific view
[bbp-login] – Show the login screen
[bbp-register] – Show the register screen
[bbp-lost-pass] – Show the lost password screen
(full list of bbPress shortcodes is here.)
In addition to the shortcodes, there are some php codes you can place in your theme to echo out portions of your bbPress forum. For example:
<?php bbp_get_template_part( 'bbpress/content', 'archive-topic' ); ?>
<?php echo do_shortcode('[bbp-topic-index]'); ?>
As an aid to visualize how bbPress is outputting its data on the page, http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/bbpress-visual-hooks/ is a great plugin to help you visualize the various bbPress hooks.
If you need more help customizing the look of your bbPress site, see our other article on essential bbPress plugins: http://wpguidance.com/365/bbpress-2-essential-plugins-for-your-wordpress-forum/