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Article - 'Website Layouts Part 2: Community Aspects' by Fighter

An item about Miscellanious posted on Jan 14, 2004

Blurb

Yes, content is a nice thing, but so are communities. Read up on how to manage forums and that kinda stuff for your site.

Body

So, you've read my other article, and you know that content is a pretty good thing, but graphics aren't half bad either. Just having an audience in mind is important, and speaking of audience, this follow up will explain how to let the users speak their mind, and it's always nice to have an opinion or two from them..you know?

Website Layouts Part 2: Community Aspects




So, let's just say, you made your layout for your site, and you got things off of the ground. Ok? Ok. So now, you're stuck their alone, although people are their, they can't say anything, they can just look. That's like gluing someone's mouth shut. So take that crowbard and open their mouths, here are some ideas that can let members or guests even talk, and voice, also the parts that will be explained in my article:

-Message Boards(Forums)
-Comments
-Submissions
-Community Fun!
-Convienience

With those said, on to part 1!

Message Boards(Forums):

So, assuming you're site is done, you are hopefully thinking something along the lines of "Gee, I should have members talk here too", well hopefully you are, because if you aren't you're a horrible person. Besides that, the perfect solution to that thought is forums..or message boards or whatever you'd wanna call them. The first step is finding a message board system..or even coding one yourself. So, here are some things a good forums system would need:

-Registration
-Basic User Cpanel
-Organization(I.E. actual categories to post in)
-Admin compatibility
-Ability to change graphics to your liking
-Mod Compatibility
-Easy Setup

Yes, most forum systems have those these days, so that shouldn't be a problem, so just look for one that looks like the one for you. Anyway, now onto some other aspects of forums.

Modship is the first subject, as you probably already know, mods, or moderators are guardians of the forums, ensuring that the boards are safe, and free of chaos. Here are some traits for a good moderator:

Trusting
Active
Sense of Humor
Does his/her Job
Dedicated
Nice

Those are a few needed traits, the rest are your call. Although I see people giving modship to random people a lot these days, just to gain attention. That's like handing a knife to a madman. Basically, search for a suiting forum leader, and not one who will leave the next day.

Another major subject is starting off. If you notice, 99.6% of today's forums start off with about 30 more forums than needed. Most aren't even used! Try having a board for everything general, a board for your site's content, a board for advertising, and a board for suggestions. It's basic, but until people start demanding, it's a good start, which brings us to our next part of forums..also the last part.

Voice, you let the people be members for a reason, now I think that you should let them have a say on things. Even though you hate a member, take his/her opinions into consideration. Everyone counts when it comes to opinions.

Comments:

Ever make a massive piece of work, and show it off to the nearest living object? I know I do, and comments are like doing that. They let people say what they want to say about your piece of work. It's not essential, but it can be a lifesaver, let me tell you. I think that an article/news system without comments is pretty boring, and lifeless. Spice things up, if you don't know how to make a comment system, search around, most easy news systems have them today, so it shouldn't be too hard.

Submissions:

This one is a must, whether you like it or not. You can't please a huge mass of people by yourself can you? Of course not, you need members to help build up your site too. Try building a submission system, so that your site will grow, who knows, maybe one certain game exclusive to your site only will bring in a rush of members. So in short, you're not the only one who can build your site up, you need people to feed it content. Take gamingw for example, how empty would it be if only staff members did updates? Speaking of that, maybe reward members who add much work to the site, give them staff, or a simple reward, whatever you can think of. Members are just as essential as you at your site, always remember that.

Community Fun!:

Now that you have some base rules, and forums, and maybe a small, yet growing community, you can start adding more to it. Maybe game tournaments, weekly quizzes, whatever. I know I would like to go to a place where there's much more than just opinion. You gotta liven things up before your site gets too big, this can also tie in with the last article's part about a unique killer ap. It just adds much more to the site when you have competition, and it could take you 20 steps further on your quest to making a large community.

Last but not least...
Convinience:

Convinience is a simple word(not really) that can do wonders if harnessed correctly. It can mean 1 million things, yet do one thing. Well, you get the picture. Basically, in this sense I am using the word as an aspect of the community. Simply said, convinience is making a site easy to navigate through, meeting user demands, having all of the above community aspects tied together, etc. A convinient site is a site that has much to offer, and it's tied together well, and made in a unique way that stamps you right on top. For example, maybe a submission link in the article page that only shows if you are logging in, or even custom coded forums that share the same colors and layout as the site. Convinience is by no means essential, but it adds much more to your layout, and forums. Convinience is a word that I simply can't explain, yet it's the spice that sticks out from the rest. That said, good luck thinking of a good way to tie your site together..and uhh..speaking of tie, I have to get tie

Ok, so the article possibly came out a bit short, but big things can come in small packages ya know. Just take these factors into consideration, and hopefully you'll be ready for step 3 in this continuing series.