Nothing "Vanilla" About Their Forums
Lou Gallo | TrustRadius Reviewer
April 15, 2018

Nothing "Vanilla" About Their Forums

Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Software Version

Business

Overall Satisfaction with Vanilla Forums

We use Vanilla Forums as our community platform for allowing our community to ask questions in various categories across our product. We also use it for community support of our free and educational users as well as monitoring and gathering improvement requests for future product updates. The forum is integrated into our service through Single Sign On (SSO) and provides a streamlined way to gain access to our community. We also are able to use it to get User Experience (UX) feedback on Early Visibility Programs (EVP) with scoped categories where only users who are part of these programs can provide input.
  • It has a great API and we utilize this for badging our FREE, PRO and EDU users as well as providing access to our private EVP programs
  • They have wonderful customer service that works with us in a number of ways from simple tweaks to even our most advanced integrations via the API.
  • Customization options for discussions, questions, polls and even idea voting..
  • Large number of add on packages for out of the box integration with tools like Zendesk which we use extensively.
  • Analytics backend - Ability to really understand what content is getting the most attention and how effective our community is answering questions.
  • Customization of analytic data by rank (Typically we would like to filter our data by our user's account types to see who out of our entire community is using the community.
  • The API development has been slow but they have recently pushed out their new V2 but prior to V2, there were some inefficiencies in doing some automated user management.
  • Most of my previous issues were addressed since we started with them.
  • Being able to offer support for our FREE and EDU users whom do not pay for use of our service has been a very large impact by not having to staff support for those users. The community is able to see new questions, answer and get feedback from the asker if their issue was answered.
  • We also use this as a barometer of issues and common themes that might come in across our global user base. Having our entire company able to read, comment and pull support tickets for further investigation has become a critical part of tapping into our user network.
  • Being able to use this for support, community and improvement voting has also simplified our process to not have specialized tools for each and we are able to do this all in one tool, everyone knows and does not need a large amount of on-boarding for.
Most of all we could customize the forum to look and feel like an extension of our existing web properties. This makes the forum feel more native to the users coming from or being redirected to the forum. We also had plans of being able to create custom badges we could grant users which was a limitation to many of the platforms we look at at the time.

Since we are a software and cloud company, working with a product we could customize and automate via the API was another big factor. Today we have automated flows for reviewing and accepting improvement requests and then pulling them into our ticketing system and updating the deployment status of those requests one we push our updates to our users.

Most importantly, Vanilla came forward with a reasonable cost to match our existing CSS and make a template that was easy for us to maintain as we grew.
For companies that want to customize almost anything and make the forum look like your site, Vanilla Forums is the one for you. Customization and automation of the data via the API with other systems is more than possible and they serve to be great as a hosting provider, dealing with all the upgrades, deployments and maintenance and threat management well.

I would say they might be less turn key for a small application but the fact they have an open source community, the ability to find help and information can lower the barrier of entry for most.