If you used the internet about 20 years ago, you might remember the huge selection of public chat rooms available. However, due to social media and other platforms like Discord or Reddit, the concept of a chat room website has been retired.
Yet, who’s to say they should stay retired. The last two years have been difficult when it comes to meeting new people due to lockdown restrictions and social distancing, but an online chat room might just be the perfect solution.
Today, I will demonstrate how to build a chat room website on a conceptual level with WordPress.
What Is A Chat Room Website?
Many websites have a live chat component, but that doesn’t make them a full-fledged chat room website. Instead, this title is reserved for websites that only contain chatrooms.
The only purpose of the website is to allow users to communicate with one another.
Typically the website will be comprised of multiple chatrooms that each focus on a unique subject.
For instance, there may be a chat room dedicated to car repairs. Users will be able to enter and talk to like-minded individuals that are interested in performing their own bodywork.
It’s very similar to different Reddit forums or Discord servers.
However, the biggest difference is that it is live and you cannot edit what is said. This also requires a much higher level of moderation. After all, you may discover that some not-so-great topics might end up being discussed on your platform.
Is It Worth Building One in 2022?
If I’m being completely honest, probably not.
Platforms like Discord allow for users to create their own server and invite other users to join to communicate with each other. Not only does it work with text chat, but you can also utilize both voice and video chat.
And it’s completely free to use.
You can even take it a step further by creating Discord bots to help assign roles to users and even moderate content.
Similarly, Reddit has become one of the most popular website’s in the world because you can find like-minded individuals to talk with about any topic. This is more limited than Discord, but its popularity is simply too large to ignore.
There are also multiple chat services that businesses use to communicate like Microsoft Teams or Slack. Not to mention the countless phone apps.
That said, if you still want to try building your own, let’s begin.
How to Build A Chat Room Website
Step 0: Decide on A Focus
All websites need a direction, and a chat room is no exception. In fact, I would say a focus is more important than ever. Without a focus, a bunch of people with nothing in common would start talking, and this probably won’t end well.
Or, your website may become associated with a specific topic that you are not comfortable with. The internet is not a nice place.
Instead, you need to decide the focus of the website. For instance, do you want to create a free chat site that lets users talk about any topic, or create one about a specific niche and have multiple sub chats for different subjects?
Hopefully, it is the second, because the first option would be a disaster. Of course, it’s not only the topic that is important.
You also need to think about the maturity level of the site. Let’s face it, if you allow users to anonymously chat online, it can get nasty, dirty, or both. That’s not suitable for all ages.
You need to decide the age group it is intended for to help create a moderation system.
Have a clear idea of the topic and values of your website before going any further.
Step 1: Choose A Platform to Build With (WordPress)
Next, you would normally take the time to examine the hundreds of CMS available that you can build a website with. However, I’ll save you a lot of time, by just recommending WordPress.
WordPress is the most popular CMS on the market and over 40% of the internet is built using it. This is because it is easy to use, free, and can build any type of website.
With WordPress, you won’t have to write a single line of code, but having that knowledge can help.
In fact, that’s exactly why the platform is loved by both beginners and experts in the web design industry.
It accomplished this balance by offering users a huge selection of plugins and themes. A plugin is a small software package that adds a specific feature to your website. Without it, you would have to code it manually.
Whereas, a theme is a collection of templates and style sheets that give your website its appearance. Everything about a theme is customizable. Both of these come in free and premium versions, and there are plenty of great options for an online chat site (See Step 3).
Step 2: Choose A Web Host and Domain Name
Next, you need to find a web hosting company. This is the company that will rent you a web server to store your website on. Every time someone accesses the website, they are actually connecting to that web server.
Thus, the web host you select is going to have a direct influence on its performance. And let’s face it, a live chat needs to be fast and responsive.
The good news is that web hosting is a very competitive industry, which has driven the cost down and forced the service you get to be much better. That said, not all web hosts are equal, so you need to find a great one.
Instead, we are able to have a positive effect.
For each website we host, we purchase three times the energy it uses in clean energy. And for our new customers, we plant a tree.
You will also need to choose a domain name. This is simply the URL of your website, so make sure it is short, easy to remember, and reflects the topic of the website.
Step 3: Install WordPress and Select A Theme And Plugins to Use
At this point, you are ready to begin creating a chat room website. First, install WordPress using Softaculous.
Once you have WordPress installed, it’s time to pick out a theme and select the plugins your website will need. You have a lot of options at your disposal, so be sure to spend some time testing out each tool to see what is right for you.
When it comes to picking out a theme, my advice is to pick one that fits the style you are going for, but remember that you can customize it. Thus, if you are not a fan of a color or font, don’t worry…that can be changed in the settings.
Here are a few plugins that may prove useful:
AtomChat is a premium plugin that turns your website into a full online video chat site, and yes, it supports regular text chat as well. The plugin allows you to create multiple chat rooms that visitors can access from the WordPress menu.
Chats can be organized by topic to help organize them. You can use the free trial to see if it’s right for you.
BuddyPress Group Chatroom
BuddyPress Group Chatroom is an add-on for BuddyPress. It allows users to create their own groups allow them to create a chatroom. It provides more privacy and power to users and is a great option if you plan to have a membership.
The good news is that these chats close themselves once 15 minutes have passed without a new message. This helps ensure your website doesn’t use a lot of resources.
It’s a great way to create a live chat site.
Step 4: Have A Moderation Plan
Back in step 0, I mentioned you need to come up with an idea for moderating content, and now it’s time to implement it. Unfortunately, I cannot give you detailed instructions because the tools at your disposal depend on the plugin you choose.
What I can tell you is if you want to be mainstream, you really want to try and block out profanity or any type of racial slurs. Obviously, if your website is targeted at an older audience, then profanity may be acceptable.
Most of these tools have ways to censor certain words or phrases. Refer to the plugin you choose for more information, but do not allow your website to operate unmoderated.
At this point, your chat room website is ready to go; congratulations.
Make A Chat Room Today
While Chatrooms may be a bit dated, it’s easy to learn how to make a chat room. WordPress is a great platform to build any type of website, so regardless of your skill level, you can build something amazing in no time at all.
What topics will your chatroom discuss? Have you considered other options like Discord?