There are many things that visitors may dislike a site, but there are a five primary site aspects that are significant enough to put any visitor off from a website. Not only does this article explain them, it tells you how to remedy the mistakes that can lead to an empty forum.

Slow Loading Times

If there’s anything that can send a user away from your forum, it’s significantly slow loading times. Seriously, would you want to wait twenty seconds just to visit a website that you may not even enjoy? Furthermore, even long time forum members become aggravated if a website is taking a lengthy amount of time to display.

There are many things you can do to speed up your website, but here are just a few of them.

  1. Lower the amount of graphics you use. Try using repeating images if you have horizontal or vertical backgrounds (such as in a section, or your forum’s header). If at all possible, use CSS for gradients or background coloring. Make sure your CSS works properly for all browsers, even the obscure ones.
  2. Use quality hosting. Going with a cheap host that can’t keep up with your site’s traffic is not going to help your site’s loading times. However, an established host can provide you with enough resources to power your site, and even offer upgrade options as your site expands.
  3. Consider using a resource, such as CloudFlare, to help speed up your site. Other services include CDN (Content Distribution Network) and even the trendy Cloud options. If you’re interested in CloudFlare, you can read this tutorial ‘How to Add CloudFlare to Your Site‘. CDN options can be privatized, and cloud options can be found through Amazon, Google and other notable companies.

Unappealing Design

Utilizing a forum design that is unappealing is a broad aspect to avoid. However, there are a few things that are not going to be enjoyed by everyone. Those things include overly dark forum styles, very light styles, and flashy designs. However, certain niches can get away with using an extreme theme. For example, gaming websites often use dark themes and their users end up loving them!

If you are within a niche that is not known to use extreme forum styles, then you should stick to something neutral. The most common neutral style is white/light background coloring and somewhat dark text. A great example of a neutral color scheme is Facebook.com.

Remember, that is simply the colors. There’s a lot more to design. You do not want your forum to be too cluttered, to the point where people cannot find links or sections. Make sure you have your forums listed in an way that makes sense. Don’t mix your website announcements in with your sections about lifestyle, health, and careers.

Excessive Advertisements

It’s understandable that you’d like to earn some money from your forum. However, be careful when it comes to implementing advertisements to your forum. Along with putting ads in every nook and cranny, you should optimize the advertisements so they look good on your site. While advertisers may want their ad to stand out, your users are going to dislike it.

Remember, user experience is more important than advertising. Making money should be secondary to producing a unique and high quality forum. If you want some discrete advertisements, I suggest checking out Google AdSense. This will give you a code to include in your template(s), and you can customize it to match your site.

If you already have an established forum, then you should check out BuySellAds (BSA). BSA only accepts websites that are unique, appealing when it comes to design, and the destination of large amounts of visitors. However, they can help you find valuable advertisers, and eliminate the need for numerous advertisements.

Registration Process

The registration process should be simple and quick. While email verification is quite common for activating a forum account, it is an outdated system that can be easily bypassed by potential spammers. Even CAPTCHA image verification plugins can be answered by spam bots. I recommend using a question and answer system so you can eliminate the possibility of bots signing up on your website. Furthermore, a Q&A is easy for real people to answer. Eliminating the email verification can also make it easier for someone to register on your forum.

If you are going to use email verification, then make sure your mailing system works properly. Personally, I will not come back to a site if the email verification does not arrive within a few minutes.

You should also make your registration page easy to use, and get rid of all the options that many scripts display, by default. For example, there are numerous options including notifications, terms of service, birthday, and timezone options. The best registration the page that only requires an email, username choice, and a password.

Inactivity

If a newer forum has no posts in certain sections it is very off-putting. When opening a forum, you should have at least five threads in each section. Those five threads should not include stickies, informational announcements or guidelines. The five threads, in each section, should be discussions that almost anyone can reply to. This will increase the chances that a visitor will sign up and engage in your forum.

If you’d like to create a forum that appears to be more active than it actually is, you should consolidate certain sections. Only use sub-forums if you actually need them. Check out this example. That section has a ‘Looking For’ section so there is not a large mix of user requests and user service offers jumbled into one section.

Remember that these five aspects can send new visitors away from your forum. Whether you have a new or old forum does not matter. You should always make sure you do everything you can to prevent the five aspects above from interfering with your site’s user experience.

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  • milksheikh

    I agree with the unappealing designs, I hate websites that looked broken and just messed up with no good design. I go to websites with reputable design and content.

  • Origami Crane

    I agree with all of these points. Site activity is definitely a must. I don’t join sites that aren’t very active. The loading time is another good point. It is frustrating to go on sites with slow loading times.

  • adam23

    I will try to avoid these next time!

    Thanks!

  • WebDev Newbie

    These are all very good points! I hate it when a site loads super slow. I hate it even more though when it takes forever to load, and then the design is terrible too. Thanks for sharing!

  • FlammyX3

    Having a unappealing design is a huge pitfall, I agree with this article 100%, Thanks for sharing!