One of the features of the Vanilla WordPress Forum Plugin is the widgets. These widgets allow you to display an updating feed of activity and discussions on your blog. While this post deals with an explanation of how those work and how you would use them, you can also view a ScreenR video that walks you through how to set-up the Discussion, Activity and User widgets of the Vanilla WordPress Forum Plugin. If you want us do it for you, perhaps as part of a more complicated theme design or commercial installation, you can contact us about the Vanilla Forums Managed Install and Professional Services.
The Discussion Widget allows you to display an updating list of recent discussions from the forum. If you look in the right column of this post, you will notice that we have one displayed third from the bottom. This gives your blog audience rapid access to the latest discussion activity in the forum and a reason to get involved, increasing the likelihood that they will stay on your site and extend the value of your content. You can filter what discussions to display by category and you can also chose how many to display.
The Activity Widget allows you to display recent activity from across your forum. Examples of this would be members joining the forum or members updating their profile. By showing that there is activity going on in the forum, it encourages the viewer to get involved themselves. This helps to build a community around your content, again extending its value and encouraging members to create content themselves for the community. Here you can filter what types of activities to display and how many. If you look in the right column, you can see we have one displayed on this blog second from the bottom.
The User Widget allows you to display avatars of the most recently active members. This another way for the user to recognize that there is activity in the forum and desire to get involved. Here you can chose how many avatars to display at a time and the width of the avatar icons.
For all of the widgets you can chose the title for that widget to be displayed on your blog, so you can name them what you want in order to suit the unique voice of your community.