Chat rooms are a great way to bring visitors and clients together on your site for live events (they look beautiful embedded under a live video stream), question and answer sessions, private chats, technical support chats, and more.
There are quite a few plugin solutions for WordPress out there that can run directly on your site. However, unless you are hosting your site on a super fast dedicated server, installing a chat room plugin that runs directly on the back end of your site can be very resource intensive. It can also result in getting warnings (or account suspension messages) from your hosting company for using too many resources. We had one client do this and their site was shut down by their host… during a live event! Yikes.
Fortunately, there are some really good third party chat solutions popping up that allow you to add live chat to your site. The best part? These are also WordPress plugins! They can seamlessly tie into your site, but the actual chat functions work on their network of servers – saving you hosting company headaches.
Chatroll is our favorite chat room solution. We’ve set this one up for a number of clients in the last year, and have been very happy with the service. The plugin itself is super simple to set up, has a clean interface, and gives visitors a fun and intuitive chat experience. If you have a membership site or just use the WordPress user accounts functions for people, your users are automatically named in the chat rooms when they log on.
- Free (10 users) – $0
- Starter (100 users) – $19/month
- Pro (250 users, custom css, history export) – $49/month
Chatroll has a 14-day free trial and you can upgrade/downgrade between plans any time.
iFlyChat is another solution we’ve used. Not only can you embed chat rooms on your site, you can also have Facebeook-style instant messenger chats on the corner of your site, showing who is online. iFlyChat also supports anonymous users, as well as users that are logged into your site. iFlyChat also supports the WordPress user accounts functions, which allows logged in users to automatically be named in the chat room when they log on.
- Free (10 users) – $0
- Basic (60 users) – $19/month
- Pro (150 users) – $49/month
- Enterprise (300 users) – $99/month
You can save a little more on those prices if you go yearly. iFlyChat also has a free trial period.
Again, both of these chat room solutions are great for hosting live events, question and answer sessions, private chats with your clients, technical support chats, and more. They’re a great way to bring a “live” element and build a community on your site.
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