QAEngine is a theme that has been designed for creating a question and answer website with WordPress. This theme has been developed by Engine Themes who have so far released a handful of high quality app themes for WordPress.
Like their selection of themes released so far, such as JobEngine, QAEngine has been built for a specific purpose, which in this case is for creating a question and answer website. To help you build the type of website you want, these themes are packed with features, and are therefore described as ‘app themes’.
To help you find out if this question and answer theme for WordPress is the right choice for your project, read on for our QAEngine theme review.
As this is an app theme, it’s more than just a regular WordPress theme and includes all the features and functionality required to create a Q&A website. The theme doesn’t rely on plugins and once the theme is uploaded and activated, your site contains everything needed to build a question and answer website.
To give you an idea of what you can do with this theme, here is a quick rundown of the most useful features, before we explore them in more detail:
- Let visitors post questions and answers
- Award visitors points based on site interactions
- Allow visitors to earn badges and privileges
- Includes an up and down voting system for rating answers
- Mark one response as best answer
- Custom widgets for displaying Q&A content
- Custom categories and tags for organizing questions
- Frontend registration and question submission forms
- Feature packed homepage layout
- Blog post templates
- Email notifications
- Fully responsive mobile friendly design
- Full width layout with multiple sidebars
- Quick installation and setup
As you can see, this is certainly a feature packed theme. It contains all the features you would expect from a question and answer website, including the ability to award visitors points for interacting with the content, in order to earn privileges on the site, and create a sense of community.
The appearance of the theme itself looks very modern and well designed, helping you to create a professional impression on your visitors, whilst still being very easy to use. The frontend registration forms ensure that visitors don’t have to navigate the WordPress admin area. This means that they can sign up, login, and submit content, all through the frontend of the site.
Building a Question and Answer Site with QAEngine
Once the theme has been installed and activated on your site, it new dashboard is added for configuring and working with the theme. This content can be accessed from the ‘Engine Settings’ menu item on your site’s admin area.
Although the developers have chosen to create their own design for the control panel and theme settings, as opposed to the native WordPress UI, it does look good and works well from an end user perspective.
From the Engine Settings you can access the following features:
- Overview: statistics and charts for site activities such as: signups, questions, and answers.
- Settings: site title, description, branding, and the account registration email template.
- Members: manage the registered users on your site.
- User Badges: create badges to award users based on their activity on the site.
The theme also includes a number of widgets which can be added to the two sidebar areas. These widgets are useful for prominently displaying links to the questions and answers to visitors, and include:
- Latest/Hot Questions
- Recent Activities
- QA Statistics
- QA Tags
The theme layout includes two sidebar widget areas, left and right, which are both optional and sit either side of the main content area. These areas can be populated with standard WordPress widgets, as well as those from the theme, or any plugins you might have installed.
Another feature of the theme is the ability to restrict access to all content, making it only visible to members. This is good as it gives you the option of creating a private Q&A site for your customers, clients, or staff members.
Alternatively you can allow non-members to see the questions and answers without the need to register. However in order to post a question or answer, users will need to register through the frontend forms.
Once a user has registered to become a member, they get their own profile page which displays links to the content they have posted on the site.
User Badges, Points, and Privileges
To help encourage the visitors to your site to become members and start interacting with the content and questions that are posted, the theme includes the ability to award badges to users.
Badges are divided into levels, and you can give each level a name, a colour, and set the number of points which must be earned to qualify for the badge. Each badge or level has its own privileges which can be used to reward active and helpful users for their efforts.
Once you’ve created some levels for managing the user badges, you can set how points are awarded. The options are divided into two sections, positive and negative. This means users can both earn points, or be penalised and lose points already accumulated, depending on the actions they perform on the site.
The actions that earn points are fixed, but you can set the number of points that are awarded, or taken away, for each action. The point-earning actions are as follows:
- Create a question
- Answer a question
- Question is voted up
- Answer is voted up
- Answer is marked as ‘accepted’
- Answer is voted down (negative point)
- Answer is voted down (negative point)
- User votes down a question or answer (negative point)
As users can earn privileges on the site after accumulating a set number of points, you are able to define how many points must be earned for each particular privilege. However, you cannot add or remove privileges from the site, which are as follows:
- Vote up a question or answer
- Leave comments on other people’s posts
- Vote down a question or answer
- Add new tags to the site
- Edit any question
- Edit any answer
The levels, points, and privileges are all very easy to set. Although you can’t edit the actions that earn points, or change the privileges on offer, you can easily set the number of points related to each option.
Once you have set the above from the backend of the site, the details can be viewed from the frontend of the site. This works as a handy guide for users so that they can fully understand the points, badges, and privileges system.
Most question and answer sites aim to amass user generated content from their visitors, rather than post their own content. To help with this, the QAEngine theme makes it as easy as possible for visitors to create an account and begin posting questions through the frontend of the site.
Once a question has been posted by a registered user, it will go live on the site for other users to answer, comment on, or vote up or down.
Adding questions and answers through the backend of the site is also very easy, thanks to the use of custom post types. The theme adds two custom post types to the site: questions and answers. Questions have their own categories and tags for organising them, which are separate from the regular post taxonomies.
Creating a question in this way is almost the same as creating a regular post in WordPress so the process should be familiar to most users.
Posted questions can then be managed from the backend by the admin users of the site, allowing them to edit, re-categorize, or delete them as necessary.
Once users begin publishing questions, you can either leave them to be answered by other users, or post an answer yourself. To post an answer, registered users can respond to a question through the frontend forms on the site.
While all answers are auto-approved and published on the site, they can be managed via the backend using the Answers custom post type menu.
Multiple users can respond to one question and then other users can vote those answers up or down, depending on whether they agree with the response or not. Users can also comment on questions and answers. This can be used to get more information from the user, or just provide some feedback.
The user who asked the question can mark one of the responses as the best answer. This in turn earns that user additional points, which helps them earn a new badge and set of privileges. These are great features as they allow the best responses to rise to the top, and let other visitors to the site see which answer was deemed the most helpful.
That about covers the features and functionality of this question and answer app theme from Engine Themes. As you can see it contains all the most useful features that are used by popular Q&A websites, combined with an easy to use admin interface, and an attractive frontend design.
This theme is available directly from Engine Themes, via their website, where it retails for the price of $49. This is pretty close to the average theme price over at the popular marketplace ThemeForest, except in this case, this theme comes equipped with all the features needed to build a site of a specific type.
When purchasing this theme, there is also the option of paying an additional $19 for the installation and configuration service. This seems reasonable and looks like a good way to save time and effort when creating your Q&A website.
QAEngine is another good theme from Engine Themes that includes everything you need to transform WordPress into a fully functioning question and answer site.
The ability to allow visitors to register and become members on your site is handled very well and the signup process is quick and efficient, helping to remove any potential friction that might prevent your community from growing.
The design of the theme, from both the admin and end user perspectives is well executed. Setting up and configuring the theme to meet your needs is very straightforward too.
While some earlier themes from this group removed the ability to publish regular blog content on your site, this isn’t the case here and QAEngine includes support for a fully functioning blog, with each post being nicely formatted and presented to your readers.
If you do want to build a question and answer website where users can post questions and multiple answers, vote the answers up or down, and earn points and privileges for doing so, then QAEngine is a great choice you should definitely check out.