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Admin & Webmaster How to make an excellent forum layout

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How to make an excellent forum layout

A good first impression is key to having a successful forum. One factor of a good impression is an easy navigable, decent looking layout while covering a decent amount of topics on your forum. It all depends on what niche of forum you're going for, but you want to provide as much as topics as you can on your forum. The first thing I always do when creating a forum is making a layout plan in a Word document or just a post on the forum. It's important to first of all know and determine what you want to provide on your forum.

When creating your plan, make sure to limit the amount of categories and boards that you plan to create. Your forum needs to be able to look full all of the time. Your members will not post everywhere if you have too many boards, and your forum will look empty and unused. No one wants to join a forum that appears to be inactive. Creating a plan is a very good idea for the forums that are based on a certain topic.

If your forum is not about any particular topic, it may be more difficult to create a plan because of the range of topics at your disposal. For this kind of forum, base some of the categories and boards on what you like, and base others on things that you know are popular, but you might not necessarily be crazy to talk about. Members will not come if they are not interested, and you can't expect all of your members to like exactly what you do.

It's a good idea to look at similar forums and get the idea what they offer. At the same time you need to be cautious that you don't copy the layout, as it will leave you with a copy cat status and if members are able to see what you've copied, you might end up losing a few if not all.

Content
1. Gaming
1.1. Gaming Controls
1.2. Gaming Body
1.3. Gaming Lounge
2. Music
2.1. Music Controls
2.2. Music Body
2.3. Music Lounge
3. General Chat
3.1. General Chat Controls
3.2. General Chat Body
3.3. General Chat Lounge

Contents Legend:
[Niche] Controls:
The main forum which holds the Announcements, Comments and Feedback, etc. It may be used for other things like Contests, and Hidden Staff forums.

[Niche] Body:
The bulk of your forum. This section would hold the Discussion about the Niche, and many extra things that you can add to make your forum unique.

[Niche] Lounge:
This area holds the general chat forums, advertising, and anything that you want to add about general discussion.


1. Gaming Forum Layout
Gaming forum layouts are also ones with many forum contained in them. Sometimes they can be hard to navigate, but I'll give you suggestions on how to make it as easy to navigate as possible. It may be hard, but it's very well possible. Make sure you read carefully on this part.

1.1 Gaming Controls
In some cases this section may be very different compared to the other niches It usually has a Gaming News, and an Announcements forum separate, which adds another forum to the mix. Some gaming forums also have their Introduction forum in the controls category so they can add more general chat topics if a member only likes one game system, etc. There are many choice for this section, or once again, be unique. The iniquity of a forum can make the difference between activity and inactivity.

As I was saying about the Gaming News forum. They really come in handy for the forum. If you add Staff's Gaming News and Member's Gaming News, you will get double to the incoming news. That really help in the activity because once the member sees that there is news available, maybe that member will check up regularly to see if there is any new news. On their daily checkup, maybe that member sees an interesting topic in the below gaming forums. He or she wants to post there, giving your Gaming Forum more activity. Think of it next time you need activity on a gaming forum.

1.2 Gaming Body
This is where the gaming layout gets technical. You want to offer all discussion types of all gaming systems. You don't want to fill up on forums, so make all of the different companies instead of the systems. For instance, instead of putting Playstation One, and then Playstation Two, just put them in subforums of a forum called "Playstation." It will make the forum faster because it doesn't have to load so much, and the members will be happy because it is easier to navigate, and you don't have to scroll down so much to get to the Board Statistics. Note: If you have a low content count, it is better to combine PS1, PS2, PS3, etc. all to one forum. You can always add subforums as your forum grows and move the threads to the correct subforum.

A smart thing to do would be to add something different, like a "Future Game Systems" forum, to discuss things like the PS6 and the Xbox One X successor. From experience, I know that members like to chat about new systems that they are waiting for. You also may want to add a Modifications forum. It could bring more activity for your forum also.

Another great thing to add would be to add Reviews forum. Members and Staff can submit Reviews so that another member can figure out if he or she wants to buy that game and play it. The members really like pleasing services.

You can also add a streaming forum where members can upload their video's.

1.3 Gaming Lounge
To keep the members happy, you have to always add the general chat forums. Try to keep them normal, because you want the focus to be on the Gaming Body section. Keep it like the other layouts, having forums for all types of discussion. It's always good to keep your focus on your main forums, and not on your general chat. But it's good to give it some spotlight, because in the end, the general chat forums usually take in the most posts.


2. Music Forum Layout
Good old music forum. Less generic these days. But like I've said, most layouts are terrible of late. I'll do my best for you members to make the best layout you can make. Music forums can be very demanding, so I'll try to be as detailed as I can be when explaining about the body of the layout in this situation. It can turn out to be much different than the next music forum. In this section, you really have to read carefully.

2.1 Music Controls
Like most of the other niches that I've explained, you have to have Announcements, and Comments and Feedback forums. You can add different things like in the Celebrity News, Music News. Members like to read up on the newest albums and singles about their favorite bands. Also like in most of the other Layout themes, it is smart to add forums that only Staff can see, so you can chat about additions, promotions, demotions, etc.

Adding music contests is a very good thing to do also. When you add the contests, the members become more interested in checking up on the forum to see if they won.

2.2 Music Body
The music body really can differ with different owners. Some music forums are mainly about one type of music. Let's say that the owner of the music forum really likes Rap. So that person would make a category about rap, including News with Rap, general rap chat, etc. Then they would make another category simply stating the different genres other than rap.

Or maybe the forum is an all around music forum. Instead of just having a category of Rap with different "services", each genre has 2 and 3 subforums with services on every genre. So if any member comes that is interested in music, he or she can go to their favorite genre's forum, and see whats new with the news, and maybe post around.

You see, I can't help you make the perfect layout, I can only guide you. And this is mostly what I am doing in this section of this tutorial. There are many ways to make a good layout for music. But I gave you the basics. So now you can go out and make a great layout.

2.3 Music Lounge
The music lounge here is like all of the others. A general chat most of all, and then usually with Sports, Forum Games, and a Plug Your Forum. You may choose to put the Introductions in this forum. It's a smarted thing so that the Controls Category doesn't get too big.

3. General Chat Forum Layout
General Chat forums usually have a lot of different topics to cover, so it can be tricky to have a decent navigable layout.

General Chat Controls
I've said this many times, but the controls are just like the others ones. The announcements, Comments and Feedback etc. But usually in the General Chat Controls you keep the Contest Forum there all of the time. If you do that, then the members can visit all of the time to see if there are any new Contests all of the time. This can increase the activity. And don't forget about adding the Staff Forums to discuss staff things.

General Chat Body
The general Chat Body usually consists of 1 to 2 categories. One for all General Chat topics, ones to go in the Lounge. Things like a General Chat Forum, Media, Sports, and Technology. All of them in their own forum, but with each a subforum for more specific topics in them.

In the next Category you should have some forums like Gaming, Health, Transportation, Finance, or something that is big and deserves it's own category. But make sure you keep it related to the General Chat "niche."

General Chat Lounge
This time, It's a little different. You don't have a General Chat to add, so you have to think of something different to add instead. To let's think about it. You need an Introduction Forum. So you have one so far. Now you know that you need to add a Plug Your Forum. So that's two. You want to aim for about 3 to 4 forums here. So think of what you didn't add to your other forum.

A forum games forum! You need to have that. Members love those to just play some nice games. Now you want something unique. A place that the members will love to check up on. Something where they can express theirselves. How about...Clubs! Members can create their own clubs, join clubs, and just have a nice time with their friend members. It would be a great place to meet new friends.

Below I have an example of a decent general chat forum layout. I'm gonna call the forum "Chillax" for this example. You may use the same layout but try to give it your own flair.

Contents Legend:
Category
Forum
--Subforum

Chillax Headquarters
News & Announcements
Feedback & Community Chat
Community Events
Meet & Greet
- Ask Me Anything

Community Interaction
General Discussion

- Poll & Quiz Arena
Forum Games
Talk Food
World News & Debates

- Political Forum
- Sience

Entertainment Screen
Cinema & Movies
Daily Television & Series

- Sports
Gaming Discussion
- Gaming News
- Gaming Hardware
Music Forum

Hobbies & Interests

Graphic Showcase
Webmaster Talk
Literature & Books
Technology

That's it for now. If you need any help or advice, feel free to post in our forums and ask for any feedback. :)
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Cedric
Hello! I'm one of our content writers, who have been creating engaging and informative content for Admin Junkies. With a deep passion for web development, I hope to bring you a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table.

I'm an experienced webmaster with many failures and successes and always trying to be up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices in the industry. My articles cover a wide range of topics including forum management, community building, SEO, website revenue, and user experience.

I try to write in an engaging style and hope my clear explanations make my articles accessible to both beginners and experts in the field of web development.

So, be sure to check out my latest posts and discover the wealth of knowledge I try to offer.

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Cedric
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