If you're keeping your finger on the pulse of the creator economy, you may have noticed a rise in people building communities. Online communities are amazing, both as spaces for human connection and as businesses. They bring people together to form lasting friendships, plus they create a fantastic recurring revenue model.
You may think that your only option for creating a community is Facebook, Slack, or WhatsApp. Or, you might think you need to hire a developer to code a website or add plugins to your WordPress site.
These things might have been true in the past. No more.
Today, it’s a whole new world for the community website.
With awesome, white-label community website software, you can easily get your online community up and running. In this article, we'll introduce you to seven of the best community website software options. Then, we’ll give you 14 ideas that showcase some awesome online community websites.
If you want more support in building your online community, come join OUR Mighty Community for free and meet other new and established community owners! We’d love to meet you. Join for free!
In this article...
What is a Community Website?
- A community website has people. It has member accounts, member profiles, member direct messaging, message and activity notifications, @mentions and member tagging, and other member-specific features.
- A community website has things for people to do together. Beyond members and member profiles, a community website has activities for people to do together from contributing posts with text, photos, and videos to threaded conversations, polls, questions, events, sub-groups, and even online courses.
- A community website gives people a compelling reason to come back. By connecting people to each other, community website software gives people a reason to keep coming back to your website to contribute, message, and meet up with other members.
What are the Benefits of a Community Website?
- Sell memberships and build friendships
- Teach with online courses
- Connect in real-time with live streaming and built-in events
- Create elegant content: text, video, and more
- Add your own brand colors, logos, and style
- Build and charge for subgroups
- Sell in multiple currencies
- Detailed analytics to show what's working
- Apps for every device
These are some of the features and benefits you should be looking for in a community website. And at a glance, this list should tell you exactly why Facebook groups don't cut it. Modern community websites are totally custom virtual spaces that give you a ton of control.
Why choose a community website software?
The new generation of community website software is designed for a small digital business to deliver a complete set of digital products and services. The community is the glue that holds together online courses, memberships, mastermind groups, and content that a person or brand wants to offer.
You can give your people more focus, more value, and better results. And when you have your entire brand or digital products business in one place, something magical happens. Without jumping from platform-to-platform – say, between your online courses and Facebook Group – your members can stay focused and go deeper with your content, courses, and, most importantly, other members that are much harder to meet in a newsfeed cluttered with the news, the latest outrage, and updates from your friends and family.
Just imagine what’s possible when your community is absolutely integrated into your content and courses.
You can launch this complete package all under your brand, not just on the web but on your own native mobile apps too. The most important reason to consider community website software today is that the options now available have solved the biggest hurdle to creating a successful community website in the past: being instantly available under your brand on every platform, not just the webs.
In the past, private labeling your own community website meant you were limited to a clunky, slow, and not-that-delightful community experience for your members.
That’s no longer the case. Now you can get your own private labeled community website plus your own fully integrated native mobile apps all under your brand without the cost, risk, and development time of custom app development.
It’s a game changer for your choices of a community website builder and more options are emerging every day.
7 Community website builders
1. Mighty Networks
Best all-in-one community website builder
If you’re sold on the benefits above, choosing community website software gets pretty easy.
With a Mighty Network, you get a powerful cultural software platform that lets you create your own community website under your brand. We love communities, and we believe in them, so the platform that we've built is the community website software that will give you everything you could possibly need to run a thriving space for your members.
And a Mighty Network brings together courses, subgroups, live events, live streaming, and more, all in one place. Here are some of the features we've built in:
- Mighty Spaces
- Polls and questions
- All types of content (video, short form, blog posts, and more!)
- An elegant custom discovery wall
- Exciting, immersive courses
- Options for things like smaller discussions, group coaching, or masterminds
- Integrated events and live streaming
- Charge in currencies around the world
- Easy plan and bundle creation
- Custom landing pages
- Mighty Networks apps for every device
This set of features is key to building and growing a community website you can be proud of.
2. Mighty Pro
What do you do when your Mighty Network grows, when your thriving community is generating healthy revenue, or when you have an existing business that is already successful?
That's where Mighty Pro comes in! We take thriving Mighty Networks or communities and businesses on other platforms and build a totally custom branded experience.
This means that you get a custom app, under your brand, in the app store. You can see some of the amazing brands that have built on Mighty Pro below.
Alumni network software
Hivebrite is a community website software that was built for alumni networks, and its forums are designed to help alumni and current students connect. It also has a neat feature for students, you can add a job board to your alumni community to help them connect to opportunities. With some options for event management to create a live event, plus data and analytics, it’s a good solution for building an alumni network.
However, Hivebrite doesn’t have a virtual event feature, which is a miss since other alumni networking apps have this built in.
4. Vanilla Forums
Corporate forum platform
What do you do if you’re a company looking to add a community forum to your existing website? That’s where Vanilla Forums comes in. It’s a community website software that can add a forum to any website, and it’s suitable for building things like customer communities. It also has some basic community management features, options for organizing discussions, content options, and questions and polls.
It can be customized under a corporate brand, and also has a white-label app option to bring your community website to mobile.
5. Wild Apricot
Nonprofit community websites
Where Hivebrite is designed for alumni networks, Wild Apricot is a similar solution designed for nonprofits. With Wild Apricots, nonprofits can build webpages and add membership features to them, and the platform also acts as a membership database. It gives you features to collect payments and run virtual events too – including ticket sales.
One of the most interesting features of Wild Apricot is that it also gives you space for regional chapters of a nonprofit. So, for example, if you run a national organization with local branches, they could each have a unique website too.
Add forums to a corporate website
Above, we talked about adding a forum to your corporate website with Vanilla Forums. Tribe is another option that does this too. With Tribe, you can organize forum discussions into different “Spaces” and it gives you some different options for posting content (including images and video).
Tribe doesn’t come with app access built-in and it doesn’t have other features like events. But if you only need a forum to add to your website, it’s a good option.
Open-source community code
One of the other options for community website software is Discourse. Discourse offers an open-source community code, which is offered on GitHub for free. But you will need to either pay them for hosting and installation (from $100/mo), or else you’ll need to hire a developer to do the install – making it tough for some people.
Discourse gives you a cool, interactive forum that works across different mobile devices, with member profiles and community moderation options. While it’s simple, it’s an option for a custom, forum-only solution.
14 Community website ideas
So we’ve covered why you might create a community website, plus some software options, let’s look at some cool examples of community websites in action! These are some real-life communities that we LOVE, that showcase the many different subjects you can unite people around.
Oiselle Volée is an amazing community website that’s built for women who run! Built by the brand Oiselle, which sells women’s apparel, the community became an answer to helping the brand build deeper relationships with its customers. You can find a running partner, connect for real conversations, or perfect your technique alongside the nearly 4,000 members.
Oiselle Volée is built on Mighty Pro.
2. Lo Sister
Launched by Sadie Robertson Huff, the New York Times bestselling author and podcast host with 4.7 million Instagram followers, the brand LO Sister is an online community website and branded app that works as a space for young women to make friendships and grow in their faith.
3. Sktchy Art School
Sktchy Art School is a community website that grew out of a real-life event: Sktchy Miami. Jordan Melnick organized the event for people to drop in and draw each other, and after 500 people showed up for the initial launch, he knew he was onto something special.
He took it online, and the result is Sktchy Art School, a drawing community of 18,000 people.
4. FWFG App
Spinning off of her super successful YouTube channel, Yoga with Adriene, and its 10 million subscribers, the Find What Feels Good (FWFG) Kula Community. It’s a space for yoga enthusiasts to learn more, try daily challenges, and meet friends.
5. Artsnacks Mix
Artsnacks Mix is an amazing community website that siblings Lee and Sarah Rubenstein launched from their successful Instagram subscription business. They were selling art boxes, but realized that people wanted community and teaching to actually create the art. Their answer was an online community for artists to connect.
6. Mighty Community
We could hardly talk about these great community websites without mentioning ours! Mighty Community is a totally free online community made up of passionate community builders, course instructors, and entrepreneurs who are building on Mighty.
7. Topstich Makers
What do you do when the pandemic decimates your brick-and-mortar sewing business? Well, if you’re Leigh Metcalf, you take it online! Topstich Studio was an amazing space in downtown Atlanta, but Leigh shifted to a Mighty Network and today over 500 people who LOVE sewing gather to share tips, take classes, and make friends. It’s a great example of a community website in action!
8. Let’s Make Picture Books
Let’s Make Picture Books is led by two professional illustrators and it helps aspiring children’s book illustrators build portfolios, make connections, and learn to pitch agents. Maybe best of all, they meet new friends along the way as they share the challenge of breaking into a new industry.
9. Raw Spirituality
Raw Spirituality is a community website that helps members explore their spirituality together. Led by Alyssa Malehorn and Zack Fuentes, the courses, membership community, and podcast work to demystify the path to enlightenment for members.
OctoMembers is a community website for UK-based financial services professionals. It provides a space to learn and meet other professionals, and resources for personal and professional growth.
11. The Village
The Village by Happily Family is a community website for parents and educators to explore nontraditional, mindful parenting. It helps parents and kids build resilience, learn about healthy communication, and be true to their own north star.
12. Leave Your Mark
Aliza Licht was known as DKNY PR girl on Twitter, where she built a following of hundreds of thousands. She eventually wrote a book called LEAVE YOUR MARK: Land Your Dream Job. Kill it in Your Career. Rock Social Media. And from this, she launched a community called Leave Your Mark, dedicated to helping young professionals master their careers with coaching, bootcamps, and networking.
13. What Works Network
The What Works Network, created by Tara McMullin, is a space for business owners to connect for coworking, events, and networking. It builds off Tara’s popular podcast and web resources to help business owners thrive.
Plantstrong is a community website with 20,000 members dedicated to following a plant-based diet. The idea was sparked by a firefighter, Rip Esselstyn, who dedicated himself to eating in a way that lowers cholesterol. His ideas caught on and led to the community that’s thriving today.
Ready to start?
If this guide has you excited about starting your own community website, that’s awesome! We love all things community, and as the examples show, so do lots of people.
If you’re ready to start, come try Mighty Networks! Our platform is the best community website software there is, and it will give you the power you need to launch a community website, monetize it, and serve your members.