Aziz (6 August, 2010)
No one wants to go gung ho on anything without careful planning especially when you're planning to launch an Internet forum or a message board. You can't expect to become an instant success by just launching a site. There are several things any administrator should do to make a message board a success.
It will be quite helpful to have a community pre-launch checklist just so you don't forget small details you might overlook. It is important for you as an administrator to follow through on the items in your checklist prior to your big launch day. Your community launch and its eventual activity will not necessarily be perfect, but with a list of things to do in place you can be sure you have covered all the bases thus avoiding many potential problems.
A community pre-launch checklist will contain the items below. The items you'll find below need not be exhaustive since you might come up with things unique to your planned site. Make sure you go over each item and, if possible, make detailed notes of what you have done and what else needs doing for each item in the list.
Establish Your Message Board's Identity
A forum should not become a jack of all trades and thus being a master of none. Not only will information and posts coming into your forums become a wildly mixed bunch, your entire site will lose its identity. You should establish what your intended forum is for. You should also establish why people should visit and use your site.
In line with that, you should also decide on who will be your targeted group of people to join your community. You should also put all this in a document for you to follow and to also work as a reminder. Establishing your message board's identity will be one of the good places to start while you're still in the planning phase.
Plan the Dirty Work
This part of your checklist should, of course, be thoroughly detailed. Administrators will see this is as the part of your community pre-launch checklist that contains all the crazy subheadings of subheadings and so on. There's nothing wrong with putting down all the details on this section since your site's well-oiled first run depends on the things you'll put in here.
This part should include the documents you have planned to use. Include the design of your interface in here as well. It will also be very helpful to include your site's skin and who should design and improve it. Include details of costs and work timetables to make sure you're not behind schedule. All hosting requirements should be covered here.
You might want to make initial forum rules and sticky the necessary threads. You should also have some sort of base content in place so guests will have a reason to stay and check out your site.
Since you have everything etched out with something like a barebones structure that's already working, it's high time to BETA test all your current work. This is, of course, your pre-launch test to see what chink you still have to chisel off or patch up.
Smooth the Rough Edges
After the BETA test you should be able to gauge what modifications and additions you need to make. Install any patches or make all the necessary changes before opening. This is also a good time to decide where and how to advertise your upcoming site. You can either modify or add to any rules or any of the content in your community pre-launch checklist. You then double check if you’ve got everything on your checklist covered before you launch.
Keeping a community pre-launch checklist will help a lot with all the messy details before launching your site. Be sure to add items not mentioned above just to make sure you have everything covered before your big launch.
Aziz (6 August, 2010)
Great post I have to say, ENOUGH with the General Discussion forums! I keep seeing new General Discussion forums popping up, and I mean, how many do you need? And plus, there's no real reason as to why anybody should join it, unless it's already active.
Also, I see people launching forums with default skins, no logo, sometimes they don't even have their forums set up... If you can't find/make a custom skin, find a free pre-made. If you don't know how to make a logo, at least make some fancy-text thing in PhotoShop or Paint.Net or GIMP or whatever.
Make sure to finalize your board before releasing it. I know that you are excited and everything, but if you release it too early, your online community will fail before you even officially finish it. [/rant]