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How to Add Q&A Functionality to a WordPress Website

We show you how easy it is to add Q&A (forum) functionality to your WordPress website using the powerful Sabai Discuss Plugin.

In case you’re somehow oblivious to it: internet users love to interact. It’s the simple reason why social media is so universally popular. In fact, it’s easy to assume that social interaction is the internet’s primary purpose today. Let’s not forget, though: before the social networks came along, the internet was mainly a source of information we used to acquire knowledge.

But acquiring knowledge and social interaction don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Over the years, we’ve seen a number of platforms combining our thirst for knowledge with our need to interact. Discussion forums and websites such as Yahoo! Answers, Quora, and Overstack all allow visitors to interact by asking and answering questions, and they’re super-popular.

Many site owners are catching onto the potential of adding very niche question-and-answer (Q&A) sections to their website. But why might you want to add Q&A to your site? Well, here’s three reasons for a start:

  1. They’re indexed by the search engines, making them a great traffic source.
  2. They encourage debate and build community around a website.
  3. They can be used to provide ongoing after-sale support for any products/services you offer.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Well you’re in luck: Today I want to show you how you can add Q&A functionality to your website using the Sabai Discuss Plugin for WordPress – it’s available for just $22 on CodeCanyon.

sabai

An Introduction to Sabai Discuss

If you want to add a Q&A section to your website, look no further than Sabai Discuss. The plugin lets your visitors ask questions about problems they’re struggling with, all from the front-end of your website. This is as easy as clicking on an Ask Question button.

You can choose to answer their questions yourself – either to show off your expertise, or as part of a customer support service – or you can open the question to the floor. This latter option makes it a great way to build a community around your website.

Here are a few of Sabai Discuss’s main features:

  • Visitors can ask/answer questions as guests or by logging in
  • Up-/down-vote questions and answers – great for rewarding the best answers and discouraging unhelpful comments
  • Threaded comments, with users able to respond directly to questions and answers
  • Attach files and images to questions and answers
  • Auto-flag spam
  • User profiles and reputation system
  • Search function
  • Filter answers by date, popularity, or randomly

If this sounds like the type of plugin you’re looking for, let me show you how easy it is to use.

How to Install Sabai Discuss

Anyone who’s used WordPress for more than a few minutes should know exactly how to install and activate plugins. However, because Sabai Discuss runs off the Sabai Framework, you’ll need to install two plugins.

From the WordPress dashboard, simply click Plugins > Add New > Upload Plugin then browse and select the Sabai.zip file. Click to Install Now and Activate Plugin.

Awesome, that’s the Sabai Framework installed. Now you need to do the same thing again, but this time selecting the Sabai-Discuss.zip file.

Note that the plugins do have to be installed in this order: Sabai first, then Sabai-Discuss.

Now, the next step is to make sure your permalink structures are set to anything other than Default.

To do this, head to Settings > Permalinks, then change the settings. As long as you’ve gone for anything other than Default, the plugin will work –  for SEO purposes, I’d choose one of the options with “sample-post” in the URL.

Configuring Sabai

With the Sabai Discuss plugin properly installed, you can now configure the Q&A section to your liking. Although Sabai is setup to work well using the default settings, there are plenty of ways to customize it.

To alter the Sabai Discuss settings, from the WordPress dashboard click Questions > Settings.

Sabai Settings

Most of the important customization options are found on the General tab, where you can configure five key settings:

  • Display Settings: number of posts per page, number of answers per page, sorting options, default sorting options, and sticky featured posts.
  • Reputation Settings: configure how a user’s community reputation is impacted by a variety of actions — for example, 5 points if your answer receives an up-vote.
  • Spam Settings: configure the comment spam threshold and choose whether spam comments are auto-deleted.
  • Label Settings: set custom labels for categories and tags.
  • Page Title Settings: set custom page titles for the front-end of your site.

I’d also recommend checking out the Access Control tab at the very least, too, as this is where your user permission levels are set.

Sabai Permissions

For example, Administrators have the full set of permissions. For other users, it’s more difficult — would you like to give your Editors permission to delete inappropriate questions and answers as they see fit? You need to think carefully, as too much access gives users the potential to do a lot of damage if they go rogue.

You can also choose whether Guests are allowed to ask questions and leave answers, or if you’d prefer a visitor was logged in. This screen also allows you to set the minimum permission levels for your Q&A users.

It’s a straightforward screen to work with, with a series of checkboxes allowing you to set specific permissions for each user role.

Starting Your Q&A Section

So, you’ve installed the Sabai Discuss plugin and you’ve configured everything to your liking. Now it’s time to launch the new Q&A section for your site.

Fortunately, the plugin does most of the heavy lifting for you, straight-out-the-box: a variety of pages are published automatically on your site, so your visitors can start asking/answering questions immediately. All you need to do is make sure your Q&A section is accessible.

Here are the main pages Sabai Discuss automatically adds to your site:

Questions Page:

This is the top level page, displaying the main index of your Q&A section. All questions asked are listed here, with a search function at the top. (slug: ‘questions’).

Questions page

Single Question Page:

Displays an individual question, listing all the answers directly below. Visitors can sort the answers by a criteria of their choice, up-/down-vote answers, and post their own answers. (slug: ‘questions/question/[question_slug]’).

Single Question page

Ask Question Page:

Visitors can ask their question by filling in a simple form which uses a slimmed-down version of the WordPress editor. They can also set the title, category, and tags for their question. (slug: ‘questions/ask’).

Ask Question page

Categories Page:

Lists all available question categories. (slug: ‘questions/categories’).

Categories Page

Single Categories Page:

Similar to the questions page, but displaying all the questions under specific categories. (slug: ‘questions/categories/[category_slug]’).

Single Category Page

User page:

An individual user’s profile page, displaying their questions and answers, as well as the user’s favorite posts. (slug: ‘questions/users/[user_name]’).

User Profile page

Sabai Discuss Widgets

The convenience of using the Sabai Discuss plugin doesn’t stop there, though. As we’ve already discussed, Sabai automatically publishes everything you need to add a working Q&A section to your website. All you have to do is promote this new section, and make sure it’s accessible with plenty of links.

Again, Sabai makes this super-easy for you to do, with a comprehensive selection of 11 custom widgets. These widgets are (with brief explanation where necessry):

  • Ask button – a call to action button that takes a visitor straight to your Ask Question page. You can customize your button’s text, size, and color.
  • Leader board – displays the top users on your website ranked by reputation points.
  • Accepted answers – displays recently accepted answers.
  • Related questions – displays questions related to the one you’re viewing.
  • Popular questions – you can specify the minimum requirement of answers, votes, and favorites to qualify a question as “popular.”
  • Question tags – displays a list of tags used in your questions.
  • Question categories – displays a list of top level categories the questions are split between.
  • Unanswered questions
  • Search questions and answers
  • Recent questions and answers
  • Featured questions

By adding a variety of these widgets to your sidebar, you can give your new Q&A section the visibility it needs to get visitors using it.

Sabai Widgets

It might be slow at first, but once your Q&A hits a critical mass of contributors, you’ll have an active, dynamic new section to your website that automatically attracts new visitors and users.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to launch a Q&A section on your website, Sabai Discuss is a fantastic solution. The plugin will give your website new forum-like levels of interactivity, and that makes it a great way to keep visitors coming back to your website.

Why? Well, because it’s just easy. Why spend 30 minutes traipsing around Google when you can ask a direct question about your situation? In no time at all, you’ll have a set of very specific, highly relevant answers, provided by a community well-versed in that particular topic.

For anyone offering products or services, it’s also a really great way to provide ongoing, public customer support. For a start, it re-assures potential customers that you’re committed to providing after-sale support. Better still, it will save you significant amounts of time: customers are more likely to search existing questions for a solution before contacting you for one. You won’t have to keep repeating yourself, either, as you can just refer customers to similar questions.

If you’re sold on the benefits of a Q&A section, I highly recommened the Sabai Discuss plugin — it’s really easy to install and setup, and it’s incredibly intuitive for users to ask and answer questions.

Are you using Sabai Discuss? Share your experience in the comments sectiom below!

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