Build Your Site: Why branding your forum means making a winning forum

Ted S

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Feb 19, 2004
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Ted S submitted a new Article:

Build Your Site: Why branding your forum means making a winning forum

It's no secret that a well designed website attracts more traffic and more business; indeed every website has a designer of some type and that designer is critical in the success of the website making design a highly competitive field. So why is that so many sites choose to stick with a stock design for their forum? The answer is simple, forum skins are often hard to manipulate for your average web designer and the stock layout of virtually all major forum software already looks good enough. There are many other compelling factors to use a default skin with only slight alterations; many webmasters feel that adding a custom header and changing around a few colors makes their forum unique enough to have a brand. Many other webmasters feel that design is not as important as promotion or member interaction but this is simply not the case.

The Mistake -- False Assumptions

The first mistake in forum skinning is assuming that the skin doesn't matter, that users are use to default styles and that colors or headers are enough. It is true that a good skin is rarely a major deviation from the normal style; indeed a good skin incorporates the traditional functionality of the forum software, using familiar looking icons and text in order to avoid any sort of learning curve. Usability experts and forum owners all want users to understand their forum and their system, so they are often hesitant to change things around, but what they are failing to realize is that you can change a great deal of a site without changing any of functionality. What matters in forum styling is defining a forum as its own, because odds are there are already a dozen or more forums doing the exact same thing.

The Value -- Branding, branding, branding!

As forum websites try to stick their heads out from the crowd of competition, the value of skinning becomes more apparent. A new forum or even an established one is always trying to grow and thus it is vital to retain users. However, users unlike technically savvy webmasters, don't often remember urls or differentiate one site from the next. For a webmaster their site may have ten times the users or features of another site, but if a user is able to confuse their site with that other site, then all the bells and whistles in the world aren't going to make a bit of difference. Forum skins serve a very simple purpose, to create a brand and sell a site and absolutely nothing else...

Read more about this article here...
 
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Kathy

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Jan 1, 2004
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:2thumbs: Thanks Ted! Another great article to push the admin towards excellence!
 

rex_b

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Feb 18, 2004
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If you build it, they will come.



If you skin it, they will stay.
 

vprp

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May 27, 2004
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I actually just changed the layout of my forum. I don't have a custom vB skin but I recently changed the header and added a sidebar on the forum homepage. If you visit http://www.golfrewind.com, it doesn't really look very much like most other vB forums. I was just wondering, what exactly is a "skin." When you purchase one, what kind of changes would you expect for the look of your forum?
 

jpapadpapa

erin
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Jul 5, 2004
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Right on target!! :tup: I think a link to this needs to be permenently placed at the top of the forum reviews section. It is what everyone needs to be aware of when they design their site.
 

GeorgeB.

............
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May 6, 2004
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vprp said:
I actually just changed the layout of my forum. I don't have a custom vB skin but I recently changed the header and added a sidebar on the forum homepage. If you visit http://www.golfrewind.com, it doesn't really look very much like most other vB forums. I was just wondering, what exactly is a "skin." When you purchase one, what kind of changes would you expect for the look of your forum?

vprp, it looks to me like you've got yourself a skin there. Package it up, call it GolfSkin v1.0 and sell it for 15 bucks!

j/k but from the article above from what I know of the skinning scene myself what you've done IS skinned your site. The top looks like webhostingtalk.com's skin and you changed the colors to the point where it clearly distinguishes your site from base vbulletin sites.


P.S. Mozilla doesn't like your Search Button.
 
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