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Forum Moderators: phranque
I was wondering what your opinion was on this subject.
Nowadays you have very good working free message boards, we all know them.
When you are producing a web site for a client, do you think it is a positive thing to use a message board like that? Or do you think you should write your own?
Very interested in what you think of this.
Certainly in terms of value for money for the client, you're very, very unlikely to be able to write anything that is as comprehensive as any of the leading paid-for boards for the same budget. It simply isn't going to happen.
Some of the free ones are great. I use xmb, which has excellent support and development and costs nothing.
What about the users? How do you think they react to it? Do you think the user rather have a open-source message board? Ofcourse there is a better chance that they are familiar with it.
Most boards are sufficiently customised that users won't know recognise the type of board you're using anyway: your average user doesn't know what board X looks like, to start with - as soon as you change the colours it is, to them, a completely different site.
Many of the boards, free and paid-for, have been around a while, and aspects such as functionality of the user interface have been tried and tested. Often this doesn't mean a thing, of course, but I'll wager that their years of experience will mean they cater for user actions that you've overlooked completely. The better known boards must run on hundreds of thousands of sites (I made that number up), and this must mean millions of users interacting with that software: you can bet that most usability issues will have been discovered and iron-out by now (well, you would hope, at least).
Developers of existing boards have learnt the hard way; you've got to be prepared to do this learning if you want to roll your own.
One other thing. If you have let's say comments for articles, what do you use for that then? Do you script that yourself to? Or is there a good exsisting script for something like that?
Besides the logo, the only significant stuff should be the content of the page and some SIMPLE AND SMALL dividers. People arent going to be turned off by a little generality on your board, but if they have to type over some muted blue background or its not super easy to scan topics and comments, consider them gone to somewhere else.
I try and get it way from the, what I consider to be, ugly table design.
On mine, I have been working at replacing the tables with CSS, sure tables are best, in that the data is tabulated, but it does give much more freedom.
Again, newbies, and in particular kids, seem to thing that strong colors and heaps of information is the way to go, but personally muted and simple is easier for non board users is best.
I also use my board as a CMS linking the posts to the front page every few days. Its also good for google.
I successfully implemented XMB forum on my site, and I must say it is amazing. Easy to customise and it looks just like the site itself, same style.
Never remove the name of the forum, it is not the right thing to do since it is OpenSource. Just leave the name there.