Full title: Building Your Proboard, a basic guide to getting your forum started
One of the hardest things to do with your board is to just get started. I have had multiple boards that i started die out in the first few months after opening. Hopefully this article will help you get your board on a strait path to success.
Get an idea of what you want. Before you even make the board you should have a good idea of what you want with your board. Here is a list of questions you should ask yourself.
What is your forum going to be about? (what is the theme?)
Will other people like the theme?
Do you have a skin idea?
Will your skin idea look good to others?
Do you have a name?
Is the name catchy to anyone but you?
What is going to make your forum stand out more than other forums?
If you don't notice the biggest thing I stressed in that list was other peoples opinion. One of the dumbest things people do when they make a board is rush into it. Making the mistake of not thinking about if other people will like it. I recommend asking one or two people about your idea before starting. If you can get two people to like your idea than you can probably get a few members.
Is this your first board? Get some help! The other reason to talk to people about your board is you could get yourself a partner. If this is your first board i would say to NEVER go into this by yourself. You will have so many questions your first time that if you don't have someone working with you non stop you wont get far. If you have a partner you have someone to help you, answer questions, and get through hard times with.
These are some good things you should look for in a partner.
Someone you know. If you know the person you will have a better time working together. It is hard to get to know someone on the job. If you know the person you know their ability's.
Talents Think about what you need. Are you good at graphics? Are you good at coding? Do you work with computers much? Or are you just a noob? You want your partner to complete you. (Wow this is getting weird...) What i mean by that is if you are good at graphics but can't code than you will need someone who codes. A problem can arise if you are a noob. You will need extra help. You will need someone who can walk you through almost everything. Someone like this can be hard to find.
I am the guy with all the ideas when i create my forums. But i not amazing at coding and REALLY bad at graphics. So when i find someone to make a site with i look for someone who i can tell understands graphics and coding well. I can do the other stuff.
Same view You and your partner should have the same view of the board you are creating. If your partner does not really like your idea of the forum he will slowly start to get online less and less. Then he will be gone and that is hurts :P. He should be as enthusiastic about your new forum as you are. If he isn't i suggest looking for someone else.
When you look for a partner don't make yourself hurry. The last thing you want to do is make a mistake that will hurt you later.
Making the actual forum:
Now that you have thought about what you want to do with the forum, run it by a few people, and hopefully got yourself a partner. You can make the actual forum.
Name/Url: It should be short, have something to do with your theme, and not be to confusing.
Skin: If you are making a skin from scratch you should probably start long before you actually make the forum. A skin can take from days to months to make and will be a huge factor on weather you can draw members. I can't stress how much a skin has to do with your forums success. I have seen many boards that i am interested in joining but when i got to them they had a bad skin that clashed. Most of them i just didn't join the ones i did i left quite soon. A good example of a nice skin is here on sz. They picked one main color and used different variations of it, The images are not to complicated, the background does not take your eyes off the main content, and it looks nice and sleek. Now your skin may not look as good as this one, in fact if you can make a skin that rivals this one you will be one of the most popular people around ;), but you can make a skin that is good enough for your members and appealing enough for guests.
I think the best skins are the simple ones. A complicated skin can take your eyes off of the forum. Now i don't look at RPG forums much and i know they use a different stile so this may not apply to them. When i see a simple well done skin with a banner that caches the eye but isn't to complicated i know that i have found a good skin.
Content: This is the main part of every forum. If you have a great skin, a great staff, and a great theme but you have bad content you will get no members. When making boards think about what you will need them for. Will they be used a lot? Or could i just add this stuff into a board i already have? Sometimes i see forums with way to many boards. This can become distracting because i know i will never post on half of them. You shouldn't have to few boards but you should never over do it. I will give an example of what you might find in a chat forum.
A welcome/introduction board This is one of the most global boards out there. Here is were all the new members come when they first join the forum. This is were you make them feel as welcome as possible.
Announcement board A lot of forums have this board but don't really need it. If you are only going to have one or two announcements why make a whole board for it? I would only have a board for this if you are going to have more than 5 announcements at least.
Contest board This can be one of the best and worst parts of your forum. Some forums like SZ make the contest section fun by giving out rewards and trying to keep a contest up at all times. Other forums will just let the board sit until some random guy makes a contest that will last for a week then it dies again. If you are going to have a contest board there are three rules. 1. Keep the contests coming. Never have a time when there is nothing to do in the contest board. 2. Use member input to make up contests. 3. Make it fun If you can follow these you can get a good contest board set up
General boards These are just your normal boards that everyone has. My only pointer for these is keep them active. Dead boards on your forum makes your whole forum look bad.
Ok now you have your forum made what do you do now? You advertise. I will be writing another article soon on advertising.
Battle Network is the shiz. Makes me miss my gameboy..
This conversation is headed in the wrong direction though. I forgot to say in my other post but, great article Night. I'll be referring a lot of PBS-ers to it. *in English accent* Just a spot of work, ol' chap. *golf clap*