Higher Logic Vanilla has a free version.
- Industry: Computer Software
- Company size: 501–1,000 Employees
- Used Daily for 1+ year
For building a strong and engaging community, Vanilla has THE platform!
My experience with Vanilla is amazing! As market leaders in our field, we do want to provide the best Community experience for our users. We therefore are very demanding customers and always try to push Vanilla's platform to it's maximum!
In addition to the most basic features (discussions, comments...) that work perfectly, here are a few things that I love about Vanilla Forums:
We have been able to personalize our community platform with our own designed theme.
We are also using the SSO feature that allows users to jump from our main platform (Contentsquare) to the community. It helps us along with the custom theme to maintain a coherent experience for our users coming from our main platform.
My CSM, [SENSITIVE CONTENT HIDDEN] is always very reactive and helped me carefully plan a "way-to-success" community roadmap to attain my business objectives. She always collects the feedback that I have and pushes it to the Vanilla Product team. It is very nice to feel that our use of Vanilla's platform impacts the actual product vision.
One thing that makes the community so engaging is the gamification that is put in place by Vanilla and that can be adapted to our needs. By distributing badges, we reward our top users and most engaged people and makes the platform a little more fun!
The support team is super reactive as well, whenever there is an issue.
There are several pain points that I encounter however on Vanilla Forums.
The group feature has not been working well although a many improvements have been made in the past year. As groups are an important part of my adoption strategy in community building, I have been struggling to make the most of what we could expect from such a feature.
Also, Vanilla Forums sometimes have some technical instabilities - but they are resolved very quickly.
Last but not least, Vanilla isn't as flexible as we initially thought it would be. For any changes in the structure of the community, we have to use Vanilla's professional services.
- Industry: Design
- Used Daily for 2+ years
An excellent base forum platform for online communities
It has made it easy for us to create beautiful, effective forums with awesome community management features to boot.
Our agency helps other companies manage and build online communities so we've encountered a lot of community platforms. Vanilla is by far our favourite though, for a few reasons. First, it's incredibly customisable. The theming architecture in particular is incredible and allows us to create beautiful forums that integrate with seamlessly with our branding. Second, it's actively developed and open source. You can watch its development openly, suggest ideas for features, etc. Third, it has a killer API which allows you to make cool app integrations, software extensions, etc. Finally, the company's support is incredibles. The support team and customer success managers are amazing at answering questions and will help you implement all kinds of awesome ideas. Vanilla rocks!
Most of my issues are with super technical details nested "Smarty" tags in Pockets would be nice to have, I wish "reactions" and other gamification features were available in the open source product, etc. Overall though those are nitpicky things the base platform itself is awesome even without them.
- Used Daily for 1-5 months
The support has been great, the implementation process was easy and simple.
- The product is easy to use from a user perspective.
- Requests are taken seriously and if it's something they can't currently do but recognize it's a good idea, they will add them to their Road Map.
- Great comms from the person assiting the project, very responsive and on top of things
- It's hard to make changes sometimes. The HTML isn't accessible to forum owners so you'd have to write an entire section to make changes to anything other than the landing page. CSS is great to customize theming, but things have odd names so it's not as straightforward as it could be to make changes using it.
- It could be clearer what VF will and won't help with from the very first moment
- There are features missing, such as Tagging being in analytics
- No self-service option for simple things such as pulling the user list, this will make admin experience way better
- Services offered should better structured in the package sell, I.e: For some features requests, there were additional charges. This services should be somehow included in the terms of the service to enhance the admin experience
- It was unclear what changes would happen with a recent update, it's been left down to the forum owner to find the weird behaviors (such as filters not working correctly)
- Industry: Computer Games
- Company size: 11–50 Employees
- Used Daily for 1+ year
Vanilla is an excellent, easy to use but versatile forum software system
Incredibly quick set up which was absolutely vital with the development speed of our company. We've been able to set up our new forum and get it fully customised within a very shot space of time.
Vanilla software is incredibly easy to use but with lots of customisation available. It also features a variety of handy plugins to expand your forum capability further including the 'Mark as Troll' plugin which is hands down the best feature of any forum I have used. Managing categories and forum groups is a straightforward task and the features can easily be explained to new staff members so they can get up and running with the software without any lengthy training period.
The only flaw I have experienced with Vanilla is in countering spam farms (Not bots). There is no option to enforce a captcha for posts which would help in some circumstances. However, Vanilla makes cleaning up spam very quick and easy and you can use user roles and forum settings to limit the impact spam can have on the forums, switching it from a problem to a mild inconvenience.
- Industry: Computer Software
- Company size: 1,001–5,000 Employees
- Used Daily for 6-12 months
Flexible platform that allowed us to quickly get a customized Community up and running
Vanilla has allowed us to customize almost every aspect of the Community experience: content organization, moderation, additions of new spaces when the need arises, gamification - all of these components can be built out and tweaked by a team without coding experience. The ability for our developers to own and push changes to the code allows the next level of customization we needed to get our community off the ground.
The analytics is one place that is lacking a bit. Their advanced analytics dashboard gives insights into some useful metrics but doesn't allow any form of filtering (except for the date) or examining side by side comparisons of different user groups / content sets. The analytics API gives a bit more useful information but it still takes a bit of work to really answer some of the more complicated aspects of the value the community is providing to the organization. Additionally, their documentation is significantly lacking - once you know how to do something in the platform, you find that it can probably do what you are looking for but many times you have to rely on your CSM to help get you that information (which they are normally great at!)