Common Webmaster Mistakes
Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes… Every webmaster makes them, young and old. You can't stop yourself from making them, but with the help of this guide you can kick those noobish mistakes out the window. It's not your fault, you don't know! So, this guide is here to teach you. ^_^
- Pick a Good Niche
Before we can discuss any other part of the forum, we have to discuss the niche. It seems like more and more, webmasters are wanting to make successful gaming & general forum. And, I'm sure that if Mybb allowed it, hacking forums.
This is not a good road to go down if you want to have a successful forum. While having a forum for a specific game (assuming there aren't many websites for that game) may lead you to success, having a general gaming forum will not. Same for general discussion forums. Therefore, please choose wisely when you create your site.
- Top Level Domains
Alright, you got your forum set up. Now, you see all those other awesome forums with those .com, .net & .org domains. But, you simply can't afford one. No problem, right? Just use .tk! That's just as good.
No. Just no. If you want to start a serious website, it costs money. So if you want us to take you seriously, then treat us seriously with a REAL domain. It's $10/yr, ask your parents or mow a lawn or something..
If you're in a position where you can't afford a domain, chances are you can't spend $5-$10 a month (just a random price) on hosting. While it isn't bad you use free hosting (that's what I started with), don't advertise the fact. It harms the opinion of your website. Also, read up on the host you use before you buy/register with it, just to make sure they have good service.
Think you're ready for the world? Wrong. Themes are just as important as the other stuff, don't sell them short. When a visitor views their website, within a few seconds they've already decided if they like it or not, and if they wish to stay or visit again. The key factor to pulling in as many people as you can, is having a good design.
I cannot stress that fact enough. There are so many sites who completely blow off this factor and then wonder why they aren't getting any users. We want to see something that looks good, makes us feel like we're really discussing your topic, whatever it may be. And it really has to tie the site together. If you can't afford a custom theme, find a pre-made theme (paid or free) and customize it a bit to fit your needs. No problem!
please keep in mind the logo should also be a good looking logo. Not some crappy thing made off of a website. We want a good logo to match the theme.
We are here to discuss your topic, on your forum
. We are not here to sit in a shoutbox/chatbox all day and chat about random topics. If you want an active forum, stick with a forum. If you want a shoutbox/chatbox, then don't try to push a forum on us too. Please, just no.
- Forum Statistics
Why this is becoming a problem with webmasters, I'll never know. But for some reason, people insist on having their forum stats on the top of their forum. I'm not here to look at your stats (yet anyway), so keep them at the bottom. I'm going to stay for the content, even if the forum isn't as active as I'd like it to be. That can be helped.
- Forum Display
When we see your forum, we expect a streamlined amount of forums to fit the topic. We need to have room to discuss the topic comfortably, but not be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of forums. In this case, less is more. Include enough topics for us to talk about, but please know when enough is enough!
Some people think that hiring staff will make their forum more active, because everyone will join to get staff on a forum with 10 posts. Sorry, this just isn't the case. Actually
, when I find an overstaffed forum, I am more tempted to leave than to stay. Having an extra admin to help you with running the forum & such, is fine. 2 is better than one in that case.
However, you should not need any mods, developers, or anything at the beginning stage of your forum. This is your forum, and you need to be dedicated to running it. That includes moderating it. If you can't do that on a forum with 10 posts, then… Just stop while you're ahead, please.
When you launch your forum, you need to have a good amount of content. Get some friends, and go posting around your forum a bit. If you don't have any friends, do it yourself. If you don't think there's enough content, make an alt or 2 and help out. You don't need to go overboard, just get the ball rolling. Then other people will take over from there.
Don't think just because you have a pretty forum, and 2 members, people will run and donate money. That is not the case. As a growing forum, you want to attract & keep as many members as possible. Now is not the time to offer different ranks, with benefits that don't mean anything. Just sit back, and let your forum grow. Then, once you get a more active member base think about adding a subscription or donation page. Simple.
For ads, do not have them early on. Add them later when you begin to get offers, or feel that traffic has increased to the point that you could profit off of ads, and you wouldn't just be trying to squeeze money out of your forum. Be sure not to make your ads intrusive either! Too many and your member base will dwindle.
Whenever you are posting on your forum, making forum descriptions, or advertisements, you need to present yourself in a proper manner. You should have good grammar/spelling, act maturely, and be open to feedback. Even if you don't agree with what they are saying, politely thank them or make an argument defending yourself. People aren't always right, but you shouldn't think you know everything either.
- Don't Make False Promises
Sometimes I'll see people promising things that just wont happen. For example, they say they'll "pay" users to join their forum. Or, that their forum is the most active around. Or, that they have a contest every week. You get the idea. Just, don't do that. Do your best for your users, but don't lie to them. You won't get far doing that.
- Stay Dedicated
If you feel your forum isn't going as well as your hoped, don't fret. It takes a long time for a forum to get activity, and doesn't always work out. Do your best & stick with your forum. If you have a good niche, then chances are your forum will attract people that are interested in it. But starting a new site every other week definitely doesn't help.
If you know your site is dead, then let it rest in peace. You did your best. But, before you start another site try and figure out where you went wrong. Maybe you didn't advertise it as much as you could have, maybe you went with a bad niche. Once you figured out what you did wrong, try again. Best of luck!
Thanks for reading my guide, I hope this guide can help correct the problems that are plaguing other forums. And, I am open to feedback. Please, tell me what this guide needs/doesn't need.