So you have finally chosen what forum software best suits your needs, chosen a great domain name, found a reliable web host and gone ahead and installed your forum. What do you do next? I would always suggest your very next step should be customisation.
Why customisation is important
Your forum needs to stand out from the crowd. Even if you think you have a specific niche that targets only a minority of Web users, there will more than likely be other communities out there competing with you for visitors and members.
Customisation of your forum not only differentiates you from your competition, it also shows visitors that you are dedicated and willing to go the extra mile in order to ensure the success of your community.
When you come across a new forum and see the standard install you have seen on countless other sites, what are your initial thoughts? Personally, I am immediately turned off as I have to go digging around for more information about the community as its subject is not immediately obvious through the design.
Avoid the default forum skins/themes
In my opinion, you should never stick with the default skin or theme packaged with your forum software. If you aren’t willing to shell out for a custom theme, a quick search on Google will yield you a plentiful number of sites that offer a number of different themes and skins for your particular forum software.
Sure, a free skin will not be completely unique – but if you are careful in your choice and avoid the skins that have been downloaded thousands and thousands of times, it is unlikely that others will have come across your design before they reach your community.
An original design for your forum immediately sets you apart from the competition and helps you to brand your community. There are so many free forum designs available that there really is no excuse for sticking with the standard installation.
Are you still using the default skin for your forum? Do you feel it is important to have a custom theme to differentiate your community? Whatever your thoughts are on this article, share them by leaving a comment below.