The most important part of any relationship is the first impression. Whether you are talking about a job interview, blind date, or a new visitor on your forum, the impression that you give will make a lasting impact on the overall result. Since we are not in the business of dating advice, let’s focus on how you can improve the first impression of your forum. The three areas of importance are design, organization, and the offer.
The first part of your forum a visitor will notice is the design. This includes your theme, logo, colors, layout, etc. Depending on your niche the theme can have a huge role in the first impression. Is your theme cluttered with too many strong colors? Is your logo design professional and unique? The colors and graphics on your forum should represent your niche as well. A forum about games online with a neutral color scheme, plain graphics, and a boring logo will probably not give off the best impression. A business forum with bright neon colors and distracting graphics could turn away visitors. If you are not gifted with Photoshop skills, consider hiring a designer to create a logo and other graphics to add to your forum. If you make your own, consider asking for feedback from your members or friends.
People visit forums to find or contribute information. They want to interact with other members and talk about topics that interest them. How you organize your forum can make a huge difference in the first impression. A gaming forum should include categories for consoles and/or different game genres. You should create separate places for tutorials, reviews, and industry news. Look at your forum layout from visitors shoes. If you need to find information on a specific topic of your niche, could you find it easily? If a new visitor cannot find the information they are looking for they will continue searching on other websites, so it is important to organize the information they could find valuable.
The last area of the first impression is the offer. This depends on your niche. What do people come to your forum for? Do you offer a place to find great tutorials and information on a subject? Do you have a thriving marketplace where hundreds of items sell ever week? Every forum has to offer something of value to their visitors. The important part of the first impression is making sure each visitor is offered something of value during their experience. This ties into your forum organization. If you have hundreds of programming tutorials in your forum, find ways to make sure visitors can find these valuable assets. Creating guest messages, offering links to certain parts of the site, is one way to establish an offer. You could also tie in registration by telling the visitor that registering an account gives you access to the tutorials. As I said before, each niche will be different. As a forum owner, you need to make sure you are offering each new visitor the best your forum has to offer.