How to make a discourse forum look like

I am interested in setting up a forum with the look and feel of the following

How easy is it to do this on my own? And what are the key plugins required to get this look and feel ?

Best Regards,


I think it’s mostly their CSS and the Topic Lists Preview plugin


Are these plugins included in the free discourse source code?

As in if I use Digital Ocean and vultr, will they be automatically installed or at least an option provided?
Or I have to download them separately and then install them ?

I guess Communiteq (formerly DiscourseHosting) and nodechef will make such installations easier ?

Thanks a lot.

Actually, You have to install the plugin regardless of how you decide to install discourse.
I’d highly recommend installing by hand using the official 30 minutes install guide.

Installing a plugin on discourse is super simple. You have to ssh into your discourse server then follow these instructions:

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You want to follow the install instructions below, not the digital ocean one click. See also Discourse Self-Hosting FAQ – Literate Computing, LLC

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On Communiteq (formerly DiscourseHosting) you can just request it.

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Is this available in the $ 20 Basic Plan to start with ?

From what I’m seeing no you would need the next plan up unless they changed their pricing since I last tried them then moved to self hosted

We’re seeing so much demand for the topic preview plugin that we’re going to include it in the Basic plan.

However, there is still a bug in that plugin that makes things look weird if the plugin is disabled.

However! In the meanwhile we’ll give it to users that request it.


They don’t actually use the Topic List Previews plugin at all, the topics in the carousel on the homepage are displayed using a custom theme component. The topics are set with tags and pulled in as jcarousel slides using AJAX. The images are set using a field in the theme settings.

The rest of the look of their site is custom CSS in a theme.

Anyway, that being said Topic List Previews is probably the easiest way to get something similar at the moment. We don’t have a “featured topics” theme component available yet (but it seems like a popular request, so maybe that will change in the future).


@michaeld loving this discussion because this is exactly what we want and we are on the basic plan. Is the bug fixed and is it something you could help us with?

Plus, can I try it and see if we like before we turn it on for all?

Since Discourse core now has part of this functionality, we have decided not to include the Topic Lists Preview plugin in our Basic plan after all.


Thanks @michaeld so if I am not the basic plan I can’t have any images above the forum posts? Or is there any alternatives? and if so, how do I do it?

What’s the closest I can get to this?

our community currently look like this -

Any help would be really appreciated.