On Monday I wrote about the importance of being unique through the design of your site / forum / blog. There are however, some even simpler steps you can take to make your community a little different to all the others out there.
Let’s take the forum software phpBB firstly as an example. I won’t discuss theme customisation again here, but there are still many ways you can make simple customisations to the software to put your own stamp on it.
Let’s take the member agreement first – this typically appears before a user can register. An example of the standard text can be seen on my free web hosting site. Pretty uninteresting and very standard. Think of ways you can customise this – perhaps you could incorporate your site rules here as well as the standard disclaimer? Perhaps you could add information to thank a user for proceeding to register. I customised the registration page of the Just Chat message boards to include items such as these. This content can be edited in the language files of phpBB.
Sticking with the language files of phpBB, you can also customise the content of the emails sent to your members. The ‘thank you for registering’ emails, ‘new post notification’ emails etc can all be customised. The ones that come as standard are uninspiring and just plain boring. By editing the content of your system generated emails you are once again differentiating yourself from your competition and showing your users that you care about your community.
I have used the possibility to customise the language files in phpBB as just a couple of example of how you can make relatively simple alterations to your site to make it more professional and different to all the other sites sharing the same software. If you take the time to really experiment with the software you are using, be it forum software, blog software or anything else you will find ways to make it more user-friendly through customisation.