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Creating a community website is vital in today’s digital landscape. In fact, communities with an online presence experience a 50% higher engagement rate than those without.  

But where do you start? Balancing community management and website creation can be challenging. The good news is that building a community website is achievable even with minimal technical skills. User-friendly website builders and customizable templates make the process simple and efficient. 

This guide will help you understand the essential features, plugins, and steps needed to create your own community website. Let’s dive in and start building a vibrant online community with WordPress

Types of community websites 

Social communities 

Social communities connect people with shared interests or social goals. Examples include hobby groups, fan clubs, and lifestyle communities. These websites focus on fostering interaction among members and often feature user profiles, messaging systems, and forums. 

Professional networks 

Professional networks are designed for career development and business connections. These communities are ideal for industries where networking is crucial, such as technology, marketing, or finance. They often include job boards, industry news, and discussion forums to facilitate professional interactions. 

Interest-based communities 

Interest-based communities unite people with similar passions. This can include groups for book lovers, fitness enthusiasts, or gamers. These websites provide a platform for members to share content, participate in discussions, and organize events related to their interests. 

Support groups 

Support groups offer a space for individuals to share experiences and find support. Common examples are health-related groups, mental health support, or addiction recovery communities. These websites prioritize creating a safe and private environment for members to discuss sensitive topics. 

Learning communities 

Learning communities focus on education and skill development. They are ideal for tutors, coaches, or institutions offering courses and workshops. These websites facilitate knowledge sharing through course management, quizzes, and discussion forums, making learning interactive and engaging. 

Local neighborhood groups 

Local neighborhood groups aim to connect residents of a specific area. These communities facilitate local events, share news, and provide forums for discussions about neighborhood matters. They help foster a sense of community and support among local residents. 

Essential features of a community website 

Member registration and profiles 

Member registration allows users to sign up and create profiles. These profiles help members introduce themselves and share relevant information. A user-friendly registration process is vital to encourage sign-ups. Profiles should include basic information, profile pictures, and personal interests to help members connect. 

Forums and discussion boards 

Forums and discussion boards are crucial for encouraging conversations among members. They provide a space for users to start and participate in discussions on various topics. These features help build a sense of community as members share ideas and support each other. 

Activity feeds 

Activity feeds keep members updated on the latest activities within the community. These feeds show recent posts, comments, and member interactions, making it easy for users to stay engaged. Activity feeds also help highlight trending topics and popular discussions, which can increase overall participation. 

Private messaging 

Private messaging allows members to communicate directly with each other. This feature is essential for maintaining personal connections within the community. Private messaging ensures that members can have private conversations and build stronger relationships. 

Event management 

Event management tools are vital for organizing and promoting community events. These tools help create, manage, and share event details with members. They also facilitate RSVPs and reminders, ensuring better participation. Effective event management can enhance member engagement and foster a sense of belonging. 

Content sharing (blogs, videos, images) 

Allowing members to share content like blogs, videos, and images is essential for a vibrant community. User-generated content keeps the community dynamic and engaging. Content-sharing features enable members to contribute their own posts and media, enriching the community and encouraging return visits. 

Moderation tools 

Moderation tools are necessary to maintain a healthy and respectful community environment. These tools help administrators monitor and manage user interactions, ensuring compliance with community guidelines. Moderation features include content approval, user bans, and automated filters for inappropriate content. 

Notifications and alerts 

Notifications and alerts keep members informed about critical updates and activities. These can include notifications for new messages, upcoming events, and recent interactions. Timely alerts help maintain member engagement and ensure they don’t miss out on important community activities. 

How to create a community website with WordPress?

Step 1: Find a reliable website host 

Choosing the right web hosting service is crucial for the success of your community website. It impacts your site’s performance, reliability, and overall user experience. Here are the key considerations for hosting a community website. 

Assessing website needs 

First, assess your website’s needs. Consider the storage requirements for user-generated content such as photos, videos, and posts. High traffic and simultaneous user interactions also demand robust hosting solutions. Also, ensure your host is compatible with WordPress and can handle peak traffic smoothly. 

Uptime and reliability 

Consistent uptime is essential for accessibility. Look for a host that guarantees at least 99.9% uptime. Reliable uptime ensures your community members can access the site whenever they want, building trust and reliability. Cloud hosting solutions, like those offered by Bluehost, can be particularly effective, providing enhanced stability and performance to ensure your website remains accessible at all times. 

Speed and performance 

Website speed significantly impacts visitor retention. Fast load times and high performance are critical. A slow website can frustrate users and lead to higher bounce rates. Ensure your host provides optimized speed for a better user experience. 


Your hosting solution should be scalable. As your community grows, your hosting needs will increase. Choose a host that can grow with your website. Scalable solutions prevent downtime and ensure smooth handling of increased traffic. 

Customer support 

Look for hosts that offer 24/7 support through chat, email, or phone. Quick and effective support can resolve issues promptly, keeping your website running smoothly. 

Step 2: Select a domain name 

A good domain name enhances user experience, making it easier for visitors to find and remember your site. It also plays a significant role in SEO, helping your site rank higher in search engine results. 

Here’s how to select an effective domain name

  • Keep it short and simple: A short and simple domain name is easier to remember and type. Aim for a name with fewer than 15 characters to enhance memorability. 
  • Make it relevant: Your domain name should reflect your website’s content or purpose. It should create a clear connection to your community. A relevant name helps users understand what your site is about. 
  • Avoid special characters and hyphens: Stick to letters and numbers in your domain name. Special characters and hyphens can confuse visitors and make your site harder to remember. 
  • Choose the right domain extension: Common extensions like .com are usually preferred because they are more recognizable and trusted. However, consider other extensions like .org or .net if they better suit your community.  

Use domain search tools to check if your desired domain name is available. Bluehost offers a straightforward search tool to help you find available domain names. Enter your desired name to see if it’s taken. If it is, Bluehost will suggest alternatives. 

Step 3: Create a website with AI website creator from Bluehost 

After you’ve purchased a hosting plan from Bluehost, you can easily build your community website using their AI Website Creator. This tool, included with all Bluehost hosting plans, simplifies building on WordPress and streamlines the website creation process.  

Our tool makes the process a lot easier, even for those with little to no technical experience, so you can create a professional-looking website with minimal effort. 

Select AI website creator from Bluehost 

Begin by navigating to the ‘AI Website Creator’ option on your Bluehost dashboard and clicking on ‘Get Started.’ Then, enter a brief description of the type of website you want to create, such as a forum, social network, or local community hub. 

Connect a Facebook account 

To enhance your website with additional details, you can connect your Facebook account by clicking on the ‘Connect Facebook’ button. This step is optional but can help the tool gather more relevant information for your site. If you prefer not to connect Facebook, click on ‘Skip for Now’ to proceed. 

Upload website logo 

Next, upload a logo for your community website. Tools like Canva are great for creating a unique, simple, and readable logo representing your brand. Design your logo to be distinctive and relevant to your community. Once your logo is ready, you can either drag and drop the image into the provided box or use the ‘Browse’ button to select an image from your computer. 

Select the AI-generated website version 

The AI Website Creator will generate different versions of your website. Click on ‘Preview’ to view each version in detail. If you need more options, click on ‘Regenerate’ to get new versions. This helps you choose the layout and style that best fits your community’s needs. 

Customize your website 

After selecting a version to preview, click on ‘Customize’ in the top-right corner. This allows you to adjust template colors, select fonts, and make other visual changes to align with your community’s branding. Once satisfied with the customizations, click ‘Save & Continue’. 

Edit with Wonder Blocks 

Access the Bluehost dashboard from the WordPress admin panel for more detailed customization. Click on ‘Preview Your Site’ and then ‘Edit Page’. In the top-left corner, find the green ‘Wonder Blocks’ button. This feature provides various custom blocks and pre-designed pages that you can use to build out your site. Modify the text and images as needed to personalize your community website. 

Once you have completed your edits, click ‘Publish’ in the top-right corner to make your website live. 

Step 4: Install essential plugins 

You need to install several essential plugins to create a fully functional community website. These plugins add the necessary features for social networking, forums, event management, and more. 

Consider the following plugins for your community website: 

  • BuddyPress for social networking features  
  • bbPress for forums and discussion boards 
  • Event Calendar for event management 

Step 5: Set up member registration and profiles 

Creating a welcoming environment for new members is essential. Configuring user registration and profiles is critical in building your community website. 

To enable user registration, go to your WordPress dashboard, click on Settings, then General. Check the box next to “Anyone can register” under Membership. This allows users to sign up for your site. You can also set the default role for new users, typically “Subscriber” or “Member.” 

Also, customize user profile fields to gather relevant information from your members. Go to Users, then Profile Fields. You can add and manage fields such as biography, interests, and profile pictures here. This customization makes user profiles more informative and engaging. 

Furthermore, manage user roles and permissions to ensure your site operates smoothly. Go to Users, then Roles. You can assign roles such as Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor, and Subscriber. Each role has different permissions, so choose roles that fit your community’s structure and needs. 

Step 6: Creating and managing forums 

Forums are the heart of many community websites. They provide a space for members to interact, share ideas, and seek help. 

Setting up discussion boards is easy with plugins like bbPress. Go to Forums in your WordPress dashboard, click on New Forum, and create your first forum. You can add a title and description to guide users through the forum’s purpose. 

You can also organize your forums by creating categories and topics. This structure helps members find discussions relevant to their interests. For example, you can have categories like General Discussion, Support, and Events, with topics under each category. 

Step 7: Set up activity feeds and notifications 

Activity feeds and notifications keep your members engaged by informing them about community activities. 

Enable activity feeds to show updates from members. This feature helps members stay updated on recent posts, comments, and other interactions. 

Additionally, use notifications to inform members about new content, upcoming events, and other significant activities. This keeps them engaged and encourages participation.’ 

Step 8: Add content and community guidelines 

To keep your community active, regularly post engaging content, such as blogs, videos, and images. Create content that resonates with your members’ interests and encourages interaction. 

Also, ensure you set up clear rules and guidelines to maintain order and respect within your community. Draft a set of community guidelines that outline acceptable behavior, content posting rules, and consequences for violations. Display these guidelines prominently on your website. 

Step 9: Test and launch your community website 

Before launching your website, ensure it is fully functional and user-friendly. Test all features thoroughly to ensure they work correctly. Also, check its responsiveness and appearance on different devices.  

Lastly, test forms, links, and media to ensure they work as expected. 

Once you’re confident everything is in place, launch your website. Promote it through social media, email newsletters, and other channels. Announce the launch to attract members and start building your community. 

For professional assistance, consider professional marketing services from Bluehost. You can opt for SEO services to increase your visibility on search engines or target potential customers using our PPC service.   

Get in touch now!  

Here’s a walk-through on how to use the AI Site Creator tool to create a community website with WordPress:  

[insert video here] 

Build your thriving community with a dynamic website 

Creating a community website is essential in today’s digital age. An engaging and functional website can help you attract and retain members, fostering a sense of belonging and interaction. Most successful communities have a strong online presence, and you don’t want to miss out on this opportunity. 

Using WordPress and Bluehost’s tools, you can simplify the website creation process. With customizable templates and user-friendly features, you can build an on-brand community site without any hassle. 

Start now and create a dynamic and interactive community website that will grow and thrive! 

What is a community website? 

A community website is an online platform where people with shared interests, goals, or hobbies can interact. It allows members to connect, share information, participate in discussions, and collaborate. The purpose of a community website is to foster engagement and build a sense of belonging among its members. 

Why should I use WordPress to create a community website? 

WordPress is an ideal platform for creating a community website because it is flexible, user-friendly, and highly customizable. It offers a wide range of plugins and themes designed specifically for community features like forums, member profiles, and activity feeds. Additionally, WordPress has a large support community and extensive documentation, making it easier to manage and grow your website. 

How can I attract members to my community website? 

To attract members to your community website, start by promoting it through social media, email newsletters, and relevant online forums. Create engaging and valuable content that appeals to your target audience. Use SEO strategies to improve your site’s visibility on search engines. You can also consider using Bluehost’s professional SEO services, which offer expert guidance and tools to optimize your website and boost its search rankings effectively. Finally, regularly update your site with fresh content and interactive features to keep members engaged and attract new ones.

  • Devin Sears

    Devin is a Senior Event Marketing Manager for the Bluehost brand. He is our brand steward for all things Bluehost and WordPress. You'll always see him supporting Bluehost at WordCamps around the world!

    Brigham Young University
    Previous Experience
    Social Media, Customer Experience, Field Marketing, Sponsorships, Event Coordinator
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