8 Reasons of Common Forum Failure
There are always new forums being created. There are usually a huge pool of competition for each niche forum that is created online. Many forum owners will create a message forum quickly and start wondering why they are not getting anywhere. There are common mistakes that are made when people create a forum and some of those mistakes will lead to failure. This article will explain some of the most common mistakes made with a new or inactive forum and what you should avoid as a forum owner.
Lack of content
If your forum lacks content, it will fail. There is no other solution but to address the content issue. You need to ensure you are writing new topics as much as possible. You will never be able to stop writing new topics as well. Content creation is a constant job and the only way to quit or retire it to close the forum down or sell it to someone else. It is common that forum owners create a forum and post a little bit here and there and then wait. Then their forum fails and becomes dead. To avoid this common and often hard to recover from type of mistake, you should always keep posting new and unique content and you will be fine.
If your servers are slow, people will get annoyed and leave your forum. In today's day and age, everyone has high speed internet and no one wants to get on a slow forum and have to wait more than a few seconds for a page to load. You need to make sure those you host with have fast and reliable servers. If you go for the free hosting or extremely cheap and overselling type hosting, you will likely have slow servers which will result in visitors going elsewhere. You get what you pay for with hosting. I started out paying a little bit over $100 a year for shared hosting. Once my forum starting getting active, I went to VPS which is a virtual private server and eventually I went to a dedicated server where I am paying over $100 a month but my forum is very fast and no one complains about the speed.
If visitors and members cannot find anything on your forum, they will likely not look too long. You need to put yourself in the shoes of a guest and see if you can find something you are looking for very quickly. The best way to avoid this common mistake is to go to a rival forum that is very active and inspect their navigation. You don't want to copy them but you want to get an idea of what is easy to use navigation and you want to address it on your forum. Don't make finding things on your forum like a scavenger hunt; make it as easy as possible for people to find what they are looking for. Main navigation should be at the top of the forum and there shouldn't be so many buttons that the header is huge. Take advantage of sub-menus when possible so that the header isn't full of too many buttons.
If you start to create something, you need to finish it. If you have added a page to your menu that is a resource to your members but you haven't finished it, then it will likely not be visited again. I recommend that you create the page on a word document first and finish it and then add it to the forum. You need to finish pages and sections before you make them public. If you have broken links and pages, it is not just a turn off to members but it can also harm your position and ranking on search engines as well. You should periodically go through every portion of your forum to make sure all internal and external links and pages work.
Sometimes the theme is the problem. You might be like me, someone who spends days and sometimes weeks going through theme after theme looking for that perfect theme. Then you find it, install it and then get a lot of complaints about it. So what you thought was art turned out to be annoying, hard on the eyes and not easy to read content on. This is a common mistake that forum owners make and it happens to the best of us, too. However, it's an issue that needs to be addressed because it could make potential members stray far away from the forum. When looking for a theme or designing a custom theme, you need to keep several factors in mind. You need to make sure the theme isn' hard on the eyes. You need to make sure the theme is easy to use and not hard to read topics and information on. You need to be artistic to be unique but not so artistic that it is too much to look at.
Make sure it's easy to register. You need to make sure people can register easily. This includes looking at the anti-spam feature as well as confirming their membership. On AAF in the earlier days of its beginning, I noticed that the email confirmation email wasn't being sent to everyone who registered. So I noticed the mail server wasn't the best. I disabled the email confirmation feature and noticed more and more new members joining without problems. I have noticed that some members will not try to contact you if they have issues registering, instead they will seek a different forum. You also need to make sure the CAPTCHA or anti-spam feature is readable. Yes, you need to make it challenging to keep the spammers away but if the human cannot read it, then why have the forum in the first place?
Yes, dates! When I am looking at joining a new forum, the first thing I do is look at the most previous post on each board and sub-board and check out the date. If there hasn't been a post in several days or weeks, then I know not to join because the forum isn't active. If some boards have newly updated posts, then I know that it is somewhat active and may be worth joining. This issue relates to content but is more about keeping discussions going and keeping fresh content on the forum every day. Once your forum gets active, it won't be so hard to keep posts up to date but you should still keep adding new posts as if the forum is never active because that my friends, is your security blanket.
Errors are overkill on a forum. If I try to post an article on your forum and I spend a lot of time writing it only to press submit and get an error page, I would likely be annoyed and leave the forum and probably not come back. I probably would come back but I would complain to you until something was done about the errors. If there is an error on your forum, you need to address it yesterday meaning get it resolved as quickly as possible because some people will get annoyed enough to leave and not come back. It's also hard on SEO and ranking in search engines to have errors that never get resolved. So while you are scanning your forum to look for broken pages and links, you should also be looking for bug and errors that need to be addressed.
I hope this article will help you make your forum successful and keep you away from failure. Please show your support by leaving a comment. Please note this is a premium article and may not be shared outside this board.