There are many website builders that allow creating blogs with diverse efficacy range. Unfortunately, there are only a few services that work great for the development of forums. When it comes to systems, which can be successfully used for both purposes at a time, they can be counted on fingers.
Community website building success depends a lot upon the right choice of a website builder, your skills and the task you have set. In other words, you should understand how well you imagine a future website and whether your expertise rate is enough to complete the task.
Thus, the process can be simplified in two ways – by choosing the right community website builder and by understanding of what you expect from your website so that it could attract and retain the audience.
We have already written about the most suitable services to create blogs and forums. It is high time now to discuss the issue from the points of view of idea and technical requirements.You need to define what you should start with, how to keep working on a website and how to boost the efficacy of a ready made project.
Let’s subdivide the process into 3 stages. These are the choice of a template and design creation, blog/forum setup, promotion strategy.
1. Design Creation
Niche services come with sets of thematic templates. Generally, it is not quite obligatory to select the design, which will perfectly work for blog or forum creation. This is quite conventional as you will always be able to add a forum or a blog to a web page and set up its design, which comes up to your niche atmosphere.
Blogs and forums are websites, which are about reading posts. That is why, the most important thing is to create a comfortable reading environment.
The design should be pleasant, but this is a secondary factor as compared to the content part. No psychedelic colours, abundance of fonts, experiments with structure and other suchlike issues are admissible here.
Soothing design combined with blue, white, grey, brown, black and, maybe, green and orange colours will allow creating the right background. The number of colours you use shouldn’t exceed 3 or 4. The key elements are the fonts – just choose 2 suitable variants for titles and paragraphs, not more.
Posts design also matters a lot as this is an important website element.
It is better to use white or light-grey background for a text and black or dark-blue letters. These are the verified combinations.
- Letters should not be tiny, while paragraphs should not be long.
- Add images or videos to text blocks, if needed.
Design and readability of posts is the visiting card of your your blog.
When it comes to forums, design matters a lot as it is almost unnoticeable there. Instead, it is crucial to choose eye-pleasing colors combined with rare design elements and convenient discussion sections display. You don’t need any extra embellishments as most people visit forums for communication and reading purposes. All you need is 2 colours, 2 fonts, light background and informative structure of branches.
However, it is much simpler to use a ready made template with a right color palette, block combination, fonts and other elements that will work well for your idea. As a rule, niche designers pursue nearly the same purposes we’ve just mentioned. So, there is no need to bother a lot about the web building process here – just get a ready made variant and start publishing posts.
2. Blog and Forum Setup
What matters most here is the structure and layout of the feed.
- The number of materials displayed on a page also affects the convenience of user perception. 8-10 posts will be enough.
- The search filter option is also a must-have feature.
- Each post should have a title image that adheres to the topic.
- Use the ratings, number of post views and other counters.
Many users are generally interested in them as they are the main indicators of post popularity. Standard attributes like a date, author name etc. have to be activated as well. This may be useful for many readers, who would like to see the date of post publication, find other posts by the author name etc.
There is no sense in overloading a blog feed with multiple link sets in sidebars, complicating the design with an intricate layout and non-symmetric positioning of post preview blocks, massive header with a slide show, buttons and other elements, which affect the user perception of a web page.
It is nice to be unpredictable here in the positive sense of this word. A user should just visit a blog, select an interesting post with ease and start reading it. That’s it.
When it comes to a forum, everything is much simpler. It should just be available. As a rule, such websites come as blog additions as the number of people creating separate forums gradually reduces today.
- Add the required number of sections and niche categories.
- Set up access rights, subcategories display option and post answer notifications.
It is also desirable to bring popular themes to the top of the list, add post view indicators, user statuses and other counters to ensure better information clarity.
Apart from the obvious methods like filling out website meta tags, separate pages and materials, analytics set up, adjustment of human-friendly URLs and 404 pages, you should take care of the quality integration of your community website with other social services.
Share/like buttons should be available everywhere, where there is such a necessity. Create social network accounts and connect them to your website. The more niche links to your website you manage to get, the better.
Quality, quantity and average volume of posts matter a lot. When publishing the next interesting post, don’t forget about filling it with keywords, but don’t be too obsessive about that. Try your best effort to add more suitable images and don’t forget about readability and article volume – posts containing 800+ words will work best for the search engines. You can even hire authors for quicker project promotion, if you plan to monetize it afterwards.
Sometimes it also makes sense to let visitors publish their posts. Extra niche content (which is also free, by the way) will be useful for your forum. Don’t forget to moderate such articles, though, as horrible and senseless posts should definitely be avoided. It is simpler to promote a team blog, but you’ll have to engage the authors somehow. It is unlikely that someone will agree to write for you right from the start.
The major success factor of a community website is your own engagement into its management. There is no sense in launching a blog about oil extraction in Alaska just because this niche seems to be perspective.
Your own hobbies should be the basis for a project, be it fishing, collecting, arts, legal niche, traveling, repair of vintage cars, clay modeling and what not. You should be obligatory competent in the niche.
Topic, content quality and amount of users that may be potentially attracted to your project matter a lot for community websites. Blog or forum creation with a website builder is a technically simple task. This is right the case, when you shouldn’t focus on design or surprise users with marketing strategies, trying to sell something right from the start.
Your personal engagement into the process and social networks are the major success factors here. This is what you do for people and for your own pleasure. You just write posts and share the on the web. That’s it.