Monthly Archives: February 2015

Forum Promotion Meticulous Reviews

Today, after much discussion, the Editorial Team has decided to offer a new type of review in the Forum Promotion Community Reviews section. This type of review is called a Meticulous Review, and it represents the very highest quality review which we can offer.

Here are the details!


The Meticulous Review – What you Get

Whenever you request a meticulous review, you will receive the following.

  • A close examination of your website by no less than two reviewers.
  • A thorough, nine-category review by each reviewer.
  • Careful critique of your forum both by reviewers, who will each create an account on your forum, and use it for a total of at least one week before completing the review.
  • The reviewers will make posts on your forum to get a feel for the community.
  • A written summary and final score by the Editorial Team Leader.

How Do I Request?

To request a meticulous review, simply post a topic in Community Reviews and select “Meticulous” as the review type. The price for a Meticulous Review is 2,500 FP$. Why so expensive? Because this type of review is incredibly detailed and thorough, and perhaps the best way to get feedback on your community.

The requirements are…

  • You may only request a Meticulous review for a forum.
  • If requesting for a forum, it must have 1,000 posts or more.
  • You must have 2,500 FP$ on hand.

If our current review team is not familiar enough with your genre to properly provide a meticulous review, we reserve the right to deny your request and instead offer an Advanced Review.

The Time Breakdown

Time. Our best friend, yet at the same time our worst enemy. Time allows us to sleep, work, eat and play, while it limits our opportunities to do just that. There are very few people in the world who can make enough money on a forum to live off the income it makes, and then they spend the same amount of time on it as they would a full time job. This means that when it comes to managing and running a forum community, time is always of the essence. So how can you best use the time you have in a day to manage your forum in order for it to maximize its potential and still allow yourself to have a life. For no matter how successful your forum may be, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go grocery shopping just to keep it that way.

The first question we must answer is the debate between spending a block of time on your forum every day or smaller portions of time throughout the day. I believe that the answer to this varies depending on the forum. The criteria which controls this consists of many factors, the main ones being time zones, user age and user background. If most or nearly all of your members are from the US West coast then being online when best suits your users time zone is going to be your best option. It is during this time you should dedicate effort to posting on your forum, instead of wasting time on the forum while most of your users are asleep. Your user age will also determine the time you need to be active on your forum. A younger user base is more likely to be online in the early afternoon, while a working age user group is more likely to be active in the evening. Late night activity usually comes from teenagers or young adults. User background plays a roll too, as the interests of your users will control their online activity. Gamers will spend their evenings gaming, so are more likely to visit forums before they settle down for a night of digital mayhem. TV show enthusiasts will spend the prime TV time watching their shows, so their internet browsing is more likely to be before this.

However, if your user base varies more, the option of small time periods is a better option. You will still need to analyze your user base and group them into time periods you believe most of them are online. Be active for 30-45 minutes in each of these active periods and use the time in-between to get other things done. Make sure to always post each of these times you are online though, to prove that you really are there and are active.

How do you know if your time plan is effective and correctly suited for your forum? While online you should never find yourself without something to do, but still not be overwhelmed or leaving things unfinished. I myself usually say you have spent the perfect amount of time online if you get everything done, are able to make a post or two on the forums every 10-15 minutes and have time to read 7-10 threads without anything major coming up. Are you able to relate to this?

If the answer is No, here are a few things to consider.

1. Are you using your time wisely, or procrastinating?

2. Are you capable of dedicating the time needed, or do you need someone to assist you?

3. Are you spending too much time on the forum when you can be doing other things to increase your activity, such as SEO?

4. Do you truly have the time?

5. Is your forums potential truly being maximized at this very second?

Happy foruming!

A Quick Look at Hiring Staff

When it comes to hiring staff, the amount of pitfalls and mistakes which can be made greatly outnumber the success stories. Especially in the online world, where you only have words and possibly a Skype conversation to judge someone by, it is easy to be fooled and end up in a less than desirable situation. The one rule of thumb I always recommend is the “Too good to be true” rule. If someone is willing to go out of their way for you for little or no pay, usually there is a hidden catch. I am not saying that there are not good people in this world, for trust me, there are. They are however greatly outnumbered by the bad people.

So who is it that usually looks to become staff on your forum? The active member is usually your safest bet. Unless of course, there is a hidden grudge from your past that I am not aware of. Someone who has been a member of your forum for a long period of time, actively contributed regularly during this time and never asked for a staff position is usually the best person for the job. If you reach out to them, you are more likely to have a longer, happier co-operation. There are issues with this though. Just because this person is active on your forum, you don’t know how they will handle power. You also don’t know if they truly are reliable, or a total hot-head that will go off on you as soon as a member is hard to deal with or you tell them what to do.

For these reasons, some administrators choose to outsource the staffing of their forums and hire staff on other forums, such as we offer the ability to do here at Forum Promotion. There are however issues with this too. You don’t know these people, they could be anyone. Just because they have staffed other forums in the past doesn’t mean they are the best fit for your forum. What is their true story? Why did they actually leave the forum they staffed in the past? What happened on that forum? There is also always a risk of malicious intent. Maybe they only want to get a staff position on your forum to gain access to information? Even here, there are exceptions, that you can be extremely lucky with, who pour their heart and soul into your forum, only with good intentions.

So, if you can’t trust anyone from the online world, who can you trust? What about a real-life friend or even a family member. Here too there can be issues though. What if you get into an argument in real life, and then this transfers to the forum. People do stupid things, that is an unfortunate part of life and something you must take into consideration at all times. It can also be harder to tell a friend or family member that they did something wrong. Can you really tell your brother his moderation skills are less than sub-par?

At the end of the day, it really does come down to judging character. Look closely at who you hire and instead of just asking for past experience, run your forum like you would run a business. Ask for references, it isn’t an odd thing to do. They don’t have any, or don’t want to share them? This should certainly make alarm bells ring. Your forum is an online entity which contains your investments, don’t treat it any less than that.

Starting a Web Hosting Company

Starting a web hosting company can be a lot of fun, and challenging at the same time. To me, the challenges make it fun, and I absolutely love running my web hosting company, Volact. There are quite a few tips that I’ve learned, that I’ll share with other web host owners, and ones that may be interested in setting up a web hosting company.

First of all, I’ll start off with a phrase that I learned from a book I read:

MONEY = HARD WORK + TIME

What that means, is that it’ll take a lot of work and time to become successful in web hosting. I recommend that you don’t spend any money on advertising (just yet). The reason for this, is, you’ll be putting more money into your company then you are getting out of it. The key to web hosting is patience, and yes, I’ll admit, I’ve tried my hardest to be patient, and I’ve been successful. Below are some of the categories that I’ll give you tips on.


Free Hosting

Don’t offer too many free hosting accounts. Generally, people seeking free hosting don’t have the money to purchase hosting, and they will most likely won’t pay if you all of a sudden invoice them. Yes, you can offer free accounts, just be sure to mind your resources. You don’t want a free client to use 25% of your total disk space, do you? Make sure that you are putting the proper limitations in place.

Billing Software

Whether it be WHMCS, Blesta, ClientExec, or otherwise, make sure that you make the right choice. If you constantly change from software to software, you’ll technically show that you may be “unstable”, and you may have clients questioning as to why you are performing constant changes. I’ll tell you this up front, if you plan on keeping your company open for more than a year, start saving up for an owned license. In the short run, it’ll be quite costly (over $200 for WHMCS). But, in the long run, you won’t be paying monthly fees anymore. If you don’t have the money right away, that’s perfectly okay, just try to set money aside in case you want to buy an owned license in the future. I personally purchased a WHMCS license, and while I felt a little overwhelmed with the cost, I felt a sense of relief, knowing that it’s one less thing that I have to worry about when it comes to monthly fees.

Listen to your Clients

One requirement to being successful in my eyes, is to listen to your customers. Open a forum, email your clients, and find out their opinions on how to improve and make them happy, as well as you. Don’t change back and forth all of the time, but try to listen to your customer base, and see their input.

Care for your Customers

I work at a warehouse, and moved into my own office. When moving in, I found a framed poster that I have kept since. The reason is the poster said “Grow your world around your customers, and your customers will grow around you.” I found this very intriguing! The reason is, if you care for your clients, more will generally appear. This includes support ticket response time if you have a ticketing system in place. My general rule, is to try to answer all support tickets within 24 hours. Personally, my company has grown quite a bit over time, and I’ve still kept this goal in place. Don’t offer “Premium Support” for a paid rate. I personally find this as just a way to seek profit, and make certain clients seem better than others, and I don’t want to apply that mindset to my customer base.

Purchase SSL

SSL stands for Secured Socket Layer, and is usually represented by a padlock when you visit a website. Yes, it is a monthly expense, but, it’ll show that you care about your clients security, and it allows them a secure way to make payments, making everyone safe! There are also myths out there that SSL helps your SEO score. SSL is pretty cheap, but is still an expense that needs to be taken into consideration.

Use a Server That is Right for You and Your Clients

In my eyes, the speed that your main hosting site loads, will reflect on your guests and potential clients. If you were to visit a host with a slow website, would you want to host with them? Be sure that you find a server whose specifications meet your needs. If you have overselling enabled, be sure to keep an eye on your resources. Higher uptimes will keep your clients happy, and will produce more reviews, which will increase your guest to client ratio.


Alright guys! That is all the tips for now! I plan on continuing this post as a series, to continue to share my knowledge with the community! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! Thank you for reading!

ProBoards Review – Best Free Forum Host

ProBoards – Best Free Forum Host

What is ProBoards? ProBoards is one of the leading free forum hosts on the Web; they have over 2 million customers. Of all of the free forum hosts on the Web, ProBoards is, by far, the best free forum host! ProBoards is the best free forum host because of their customer service, easily customizable forum software and easy administration.

Customer Service

When you try a new software for the first time, majority of the time you have absolutely no idea what you are doing. You have a lot of questions and you want answers quickly. ProBoards Support, ProBoards’ Support Forum, is an amazing resource to get help with your forums. The customer service provided by both the members and staff team of ProBoards Support is both fast and accurate.

ProBoards administrators/creators tend to the support forums seven days a week excluding major holidays. Aside from the administration team, a select few members that were hand-picked for global moderation and support also tend to the support forum. Between the various staff team members and regular members who are knowledgeable about ProBoards form software, all of your questions can and will be answered.

Aside from general Proboards software related issues, the staff and members of the support forum help users with customizing their own ProBoards forums. A lot of the staff and members have created a variety of quality plugins, template modifications and themes that are all free to use. They will even help you with graphic designs if you need it.

Easy Customization

ProBoards forum software is fairly easy to customize, as opposed to many other types of forum software. If you do not have experience with HTML and CSS, ProBoards offers a theme generator directly through the admin control panel. Another option, for those who are inexperienced, is to browse the theme library and install themes directly to your ProBoards forum with a simple click of a button. There are hundreds of quality themes available. For those that are knowledgeable of HTML and CSS, the UI for editing your codes is very user-friendly and easy to use. When modifying templates, there are tons of short codes to help you on your way.

Template modifications, which change the way certain parts of your forum look, can be found on the ProBoards Support Forum. There is a relatively large database of template mods that users can choose from. You can change the way your info center looks as well as the information that is displayed there. You can change the layout of how your different boards are displayed, user profiles and mini profiles, and so much more. All of the template modifications come with written instructions to make it easier for the inexperienced to be able to add them to their forums. Both members and staff members of ProBoards support create template modifications that are free for forum owners to use.

Aside from themes and template modifications, you can also customize your forum with plugins. There are over a hundred different plugins available to forum owners and the amount increases daily. There are plugins for forum currency and a shop to purchase items with that forum currency, google analytics, posting templates, and a whole lot more. As with themes, plugins can be installed directly from the plugin library to your forum with a simple click of a button.

With the built in theme generator and/or vast quantity of quality themes, plugins, and template modifications available, ProBoards is very easy to customize. Other forum software, such as myBB, does not offer the same type of support or theme customization options as ProBoards does. In my experience, ProBoards is the easiest forum software to customize as I’ve used other software such as myBB, phpBB, vBulletin, and others.

Easy Administration

The admin control panel for ProBoards software is user-friendly and exceptionally easy to use. See the image below:

Each menu item at the top of the ACP will grant a drop down menu for easy navigation to administrative settings. With ProBoards, there are many settings that you can change and customize. You can have unlimited user groups and user ranks, you can create custom pages to give your forum a website feel, and you can upgrade your forum to ad free for reasonable prices based on page views. All forum customization and administration can be done through the admin control panel.

Aside from the easy, user-friendly UI, a lot of the admin options that you edit automatically save for you. This is a great feature if you forget to save your work as you will not lose all the work you have done. The only exception to this is when you are editing code directly.

All in all, in my opinion, ProBoards is the best free forum host on the web. If you have never created a free forum with ProBoards, I highly recommend that you do so; this way you can try out the many different features on your own. If you are not a fan of ProBoards, I recommend that you give it another try. With the release of V5 Hydra, options are limitless and I’m certain you will find that you like it a lot more than you did before.

The Importance of Design

What is design?

We all perceive design differently. For some, it might be lots of whitespace and less content, while others like bright colours. When you play webmaster, you have to make sure that your forum has the best possible design possible, because it is the first impression your user has of the forum. Sure, activity is important too, but the first thing the user notices is how does the forum, or in fact, any website looks? Is it too bright? Is the colour scheme conflicting, or do all the colours ‘go’ with each other? How easy it is, to use the forum?

Notice that I highlighted the last question – How easy it is, to use the forum? But we’ll get back to that in a minute, first let us define design. It can be agreed upon that the real definition of design is ambiguous, with many conflicting definitions. Let us attempt to lay down our own definition of design, one that we can use for the remainder of the article with no ambiguity. We know that if something is well designed, then it is called beautiful, or pretty, or aesthetically pleasing or any of the synonyms of the words. This is perhaps one aspect of design that is universally agreed upon, but there is another aspect of design that is rarely touched upon. One that you won’t find in any run of the mill book or blog, but is discussed on only the best. If you ever got serious about design, you probably know it – this aspect in general terms is called solving problems.

Shocked? You better be. Design is not just about making your website aesthetically pleasing. It is about solving problems. Where should the username box go? What should be the size of the header? How many posts must I display before implementing pagination? Taking all of these into account, we can perhaps term design as beautiful solutions.

Most of these solutions, most of the questions have already been answered by the developer of your forum. But usability and good design is not on their priority list. They are under a lot of pressure to ship the best possible product in the least possible time and this pressure often means that good design is sacrificed. You might have an aesthetically pleasing forum, but that does not mean that it is good design, because it might only be barely usable. This is where you, the committed and determined web master come into the picture.

While the developers of your forum are under the pressure of the community to continuously keep fixing bugs and rolling out new and new features all while handling support requests etc. you are under no such pressure. The only pressure you have is to keep the forum active and this is good – because that pressure encourages you to do the best you can do to improve your forum, and one of the best things you can do to your forum is learn how to design. No, you don’t have to be able to make awesome themes like the ones popular designers like envira or Audentio make. No. But you certainly must develop that eye for good design, which will take you a long way, especially when you are choosing a theme for your forum. But more than that, you want to be able to customize the forum to the best of your ability – perhaps you would like to remove the captcha, which annoys many people, and implement better anti-spam measures such as a simple addition or a simple question which does not require a lot of thinking (I am strictly against having the user count the number of letters in a word also, because it is too time consuming and there’s always the possibility of an error). You might want to implement features such as a popup login and register box, and you will be able to do it yourself, like how YOU imagined it, without having to rely on an external designer whom you’ll most likely have to pay.

And that is not all! Design exists all around you – it exists in nature and in all the buildings that surround you. Learning design allows you to perceive all of this in a different and more beautiful way. Believe me, just do it. Take the jump. You will not regret it.

A Short Guide to Being a Rockstar Webmaster.

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YOU can be this guy – a rocktstar webmaster!

Starting a forum is easy. Running one, however, is not. There are several great articles here on Forum Promotion that touch upon the topic how to run a forum. But none talk about what it takes. The qualities and skills YOU must possess, to be a rock star webmaster. Here’s a small grocery list:

  1. Time
  2. Determination
  3. Passion
  4. Tech-Savvy
  5. A Good Eye
  6. Writing Skills
  7. Steal, don’t plagiarize

The list is by no means exhaustive. I’m sure that if some of the other more qualified members of Forum Promotion were to write this post, the list would go on throughout the page, but I digress. Let’s move on to a small description of each.

Being a Rockstar Webmaster #1: Time

When you start a new forum, it is likely to take up a lot of your time, but time is one thing everyone seems to not have these days. Whenever we are confronted by an activity or task that requires a considerable amount of time, we usually put it off by making the excuse that we don’t have the time, and then miraculously, we get the time to burn a couple of hours on World of Warcraft. You NEVER have time for a task if you are not dedicated, and when you are running a forum, you need all the dedication you can get. You must take out time, perhaps watch a little less TV and spend a little less time playing games. But you need to give that forum time, if you are a responsible webmaster.

 

Being a Rockstar Webmaster #2: Determination

Time, you say? Well, I have plenty of time to dedicate to my forum!

Good! Now that you have got one aspect of webmastering, let us move on to the other – determination! Determination is important not only for your role as a webmaster, but for any thing you want to do in life. The fact that you have enough time to run the forum to a large extent proves that you are dedicated, which, in turn to an extent says that you have determination, but determination goes far and beyond just that. You must have the determination to not lose hope when your forum is going through its darkest time – when it’s fading away, when the members are leaving one by one and the activity is going down. You must continue to keep posting, and promoting and do everything in your power to take your forum back to its glory days. But of course, after an extent your forum reaches a point of no return – for example someone running a forum on floppy disks (extremely hypothetical case) back in the 1990s might have had a good thing going, but now it’s virtually impossible to run one unless you are smart enough to spin the topic in such a way that it is still relevant.

 

Being a Rockstar Webmaster #3: Passion

Now I can possibly not stress this enough, but passion is absolutely integral if you want to be a successful webmaster. This is by and far perhaps the most important factor you must account for when running a forum, because it’s your passion that directly feeds your determination and keeps you going. When you are in the early days, your forum won’t have a lot of activity and you are likely going to be spending most of your time promoting and writing new content, trying your best to culture an active and engaged community where you can make new friends and connections. It’s the passion that will keep you determined and going and eventually you will have this thing going where you will realize that you don’t have to keep posting anymore! The forum is self-sustaining. Great feeling, I know, one that is greatly augmented if you have that fire within you.

 

Being a Rockstar Webmaster #4: Tech-savvy

I really should have chosen a different word, but I couldn’t think of something else so, yeah, tech-savvy. If you have attempted the brave task of actually starting a forum, it means that you already have some tech-savvy. By tech-savvy I don’t mean how to open your web browser and successfully navigate to a website. I mean working with MySQL databases, and having a basic knowledge of the programming language your forum is written in. The thing is, your forum is likely to run into a lot of issues, especially after it gets mature and you really want to start messing with the nuts and bolts of the forum so that you can you know give it a more custom feel. In English, installing and making plugins. And if you DO mess with it, you are likely to run into issues, which you’ll probably have to fix yourselves unless you have an active enough community that people are willing to volunteer. So like I said, this is not really necessary but it IS a nice perk.

 

Being a Rockstar Webmaster #5: A Good Eye

By a good eye, I mean a good eye for design. This is another quality that is not very important, but it can give you a big advantage, because most forum softwares are not built with usability in mind. If you can get out of the pack and be one of those webmasters who modify the forum to be more usable and look better, you have a significant advantage over your competing webmasters. Not only must you focus on usability and functionality, but also on the aesthetics. Because after all, design can be defined as ‘beautiful solutions’. Most webmasters would advocate investing in a custom theme and spending a minimum amount of money etc. but I think that as long as it is beautiful, it doesn’t really matter, because if you follow this advice, you can cover the solution part of design as well. And not everyone really pays attention to the solution part. For a primer on usability, read The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman. It’s a good read.

 

Being a Rockstar Webmaster #6: Writing Skills

Another one of those optional skills, but again, I’ve only included it in the list because I feel it is important. You can think of a forum as a blog where you are not the only author and the two-way interaction is more significant than the interaction between comments and a blog, which automatically means that you must have good writing skills. I am going to repeat again that writing skills are not essential as long as you are able to think up though provoking topics, which directly leads me to…

 

Being a Rockstar Webmaster #7: Steal, don’t plagiarize

Being a student of the IB Diploma, a high school curriculum that has us writing mini research papers in high school, the don’t plagiarize notion has been drilled into me since the very start. However, there is this quote by Picasso that I am sure everyone here knows about that I’ve been wondering about:

Good artists copy, great artists steal.

After an amount of time, you are going to be scraping the bottom of the barrel, and this is when Picasso’s golden words come into the picture. When the apples get over, and we are still hungry, we are going to steal. Go to a couple of your competitors. Search for the most popular or liked posts and then combine a couple of them to get ideas for threads. You have to make sure that you don’t plagiarize, i.e. copy everything verbatim, but make a thread similar to the one you found in the other forum with the content in your own words. Something I do when I run out of thread ideas is go to reddit and search for keywords related to the forum, for example bicycles or Pokemon etc. I usually find a few questions, and sometimes a link to an article.  I then make a new thread on the forum based on the answers to the questions and my own independent research on the question. I’d like to stress again that please don’t plagiarize. It’s looked down upon and for a good reason too.

Again, this is not an exhaustive list, but just my opinion on what qualities and abilities a webmaster must have and develop in order to run a forum successfully. This article took an incredible amount of time and I hope it helped you!

Pros and Cons of SSL on a Forum

SSL is a technology which secures communications between your users and your website. In the case of a forum, it allows you and your members to log in without having to worry about whether your password is entirely safe or not. You can tell whether a website has SSL by checking for the green lock beside the address bar when visiting the website. However, there are also negatives to using SSL. This article discusses both the positive, and the negatives, of using this technology on your forum.


The Positives: Why to Use SSL on your Forum

There are several reasons why SSL is a good idea for your forum. Here are the reasons why.

  • Security: Using SSL, you can be certain that your members’ passwords are entirely secure. That means secure, not only from a hacker, but also from government agencies, and anyone running a program similar to FireSheep on the same wifi network as you or your users.
  • Confidence: When using SSL, web browsers will display a green padlock beside your website’s link in the address bar. This can make your website look more official and more safe. Particularly for any website which takes credit card information, this is entirely essential.
  • Search Engines: SSL is known to positively impact a website’s SEO. For example, Google has a publicly known policy in which websites which have SSL are given preference in search results to websites which do not have SSL. For this reason, a website which seeks to have good SEO should consider using SSL.

These benefits can be very important for a forum. However, there are also negatives which are very important to take into account.


The Negatives: Why to Not Use SSL on a Forum

There are several negatives to using SSL on your forum. Below is a list of the negatives which I am aware of.

  • Price: To use SSL on your website, you must have an SSL certificate. These are, unfortunately, not free. Prices generally hover around $90 per year. However, if you purchase from the right vendor, you can buy an SSL certificate for as little as $15 per year, or $25 for two years. I recommend buying an SSL certificate from HawkHost.
  • Slowness: An SSL connection takes time to initialize. This can be mitigated by generating an SSL key which is 2048 bits in length, instead of the 4096 alternative. However, connections to your site will still be slower with SSL than without.
  • Maintenance: An SSL certificate must be renewed every year (or a bit less often if you purchase in advance). It is similar to a domain name in this regard, but with one key difference. When your certificate expires, you must replace it with a new certificate. You cannot directly renew your old certificate. This is not very difficult using cPanel, but if you forget to do this, then your website will experience downtime while you figure out what to do.
  • Downtime: If you forget to renew your certificate, your website will experience downtime.
  • Advertising: When you sell advertising on your website and use SSL, people who purchase your ads will not be able to see in Google Analytics that traffic is being referred to their site from your site. This can make advertisers decide not to use your forum, because they cannot view the statistics.

Conclusion

SSL is a valuable feature for a forum, but every forum does not need SSL. If you decide to switch to it, you should evaluate carefully whether you really need SSL on your forum, or whether it will just add additional headaches for you, your members, and your advertisers.

Running from the Dreaded Admin Burn Out

I find that the biggest problem facing forum administrators is burn out. The feeling of stress and even loss of interest in a topic you once either had a lot of passion for or a lot of interest in. Even the most dedicated and proffessional administrator can succumb to it and let themselves slip under it’s symptoms. I’m basically talking about administrators who have waited out the slow start ups of their forums and are known to be dedicated. I am not speaking about the random free hosted forum that pops up and is abandoned a week later. This topic is about administrators who have done their jobs for a few months to over a year or more. It’s something we all must be vigilant for as web administrators.

Burn out is when you spontaneously lose interest in something you had a passion for and stop caring in a way. You find yourself wandering away from your projects and drifting more to being a regular user on another board without power or responsibility. You shy away from a topic you we’re once known for. You withdrawl from your own community while still being informed of the negative actions having an absentee administrator can cause. It’s like the project has come to it’s natural conclusion for you…but in reality it was supposed to never have an ending. Many good forums have fallen because their leaders have quite simply given up or have lost interest in their topic.

I’ve experienced this personally. I used to be a political forum administrator of a larger political board and we kept very active. I left that forum when my fellow administrator, the founding adminisrator, stabbed his staff in the back for the words of a wealthy donator who sought power. Sounds like a fairy tale but a thousand dollars has a lot of sway when you are just dividing power you already own. Either way I went on my own and formed my own Political Debate Forum. After about 6-8 months I was tired. It was a great forum with so much great potential but I just wasn’t feeling it. I was tired of the topic of politics. What more is it than political squabble between those types of people who are overly opinionated and often hostile? As of today I finally sold my community to someone I felt could better lead. Luckily I was retained as an administrator so I can still help that forum become strong (even if I burn out over and over again). If I had not made the decision to sell I would have drifted from the project until all had left and it was once again a dusty and empty forum installation.

I see many forums like this on Forum Promotion. I go through the Promotion Director and I note who’s still standing. I see so many free hosted and even simple idea forums abandoned after a week but it’s even worse seeing the forums that had potential. Once active forum members who had dedication and passion for their communities but, unlike I did, let the burn out take them. Their forums are still around as dusty memories of what could have been and a reminder that they’re still in the website business somwhere…because servers do not run for free.

To any administrator reading this and thinking to themselves that these feelings sound familiar to their own situation I offer this advice. Hire people to help you and get a good forum member base. Try to be the best that you can be and try to reintegrate yourself into your topic. If all else fails don’t succumb to the burn out. Sell your forum, let a dedicated member have your forum for free, work out a partnership or something. Just don’t abandon your hard work without any return. You started this show…best finish it strong.

Website Planning

Website Planning

Ask yourself the following question: “What goes into creating a website?” The correct answer to this question is planning. When creating a website, you need:

  • A topic
  • A purpose
  • Goals
  • Multiple Webpages
  • Content
  • Layout
  • Design

The above list is part of the planning process when it comes to creating a website. In this article, I’ll discuss the various aspects of website planning. Each step of the plan is essential to creating your own websites; whether it’s a personal website, business website, fan website, etc.

TOPIC, PURPOSE AND GOALS

You may think that the topic, purpose and goals of a website are the same thing. When I first started designing websites, I thought so too. However, that is not the case. The topic, purpose and goals of a website are all different things and they each play their own role in the website planning process.

TOPIC

The topic of a website is what the website is about. For example; if you create a website related to the many different Apple products that Apple offers, then the topic of your website will be Apple products.

PURPOSE

The purpose of a website is why the website is being created. Going back to the website about Apple products, the purpose of the website could be a couple of different things:

  1. Selling or exchanging of Apple products.
  2. Providing information to the general public about some of the best Apple products.

GOALS

Goals are objectives that you want your website to reach for you. For example; the Apple product website, dealing with the selling and exchanging of Apple products, might have the following goals:

  • Increase monthly sales by 10%.
  • Increase customer base by 5% by the end of 2015.
  • Promotions will increase the amount of traffic to the website.

Goals usually consist of at least three objectives. The first goal should be the hardest to reach and the last should be the easiest.

TARGET AUDIENCE

Though a target audience was not introduced as part of the planning process, it is very important. The target audience is the people you are trying to reach with your website. For example; the website about Apple products may try to reach out to people who like Apple products. The age range of the target audience might be 13 years old to 50 years old.

It’s important to keep the target audience in mind when you create any website. If you were to create a website for children, you would want the website to be colorful and interactive as that would make the website more enjoyable for children.

WEBPAGES

When creating a website, you need to create multiple webpages. All websites should include ALL of the following pages:

  • Home – The home page usually consists of various different things such as articles and images that link to other parts or pages of the website.
  • About – The about page usually consists of information about an individual, company, product, etc., depending on the website’s topic and purpose.
  • Contact – The contact page usually consists of: contact form and or contact information such as an email address, address, phone number, and or links to various social media accounts associated with a specific person, company, or product. (This information will vary depending on the type of website and its purpose).

CONTENT

Content creation is an important part of the website planning process. Content includes text, images, audio, video, etc. When creating a website, it’s a good idea to plan your content. You need to know what you want to say and to whom (your target audience). You’ll want to pick out any pictures, video, and audio files you will want displayed on your website and pages. If you are going to have videos, make sure you pre-record them so they are ready when it’s time to add your content.

LAYOUT AND DESIGN

The layout and design work together to create the look and feel of your website. The easiest way to achieve a look you want is to sketch it out. You can create a sketch by hand, or by using various design programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Paint, Paint Shop Pro, and others. You may choose that you want all of your pages to look the same; you may want them to look different. HTML and CSS are one of the many ways people design the look and feel of their website.