How To Spruce Up Your Simple Machines Forums

So You’ve Installed SMF on Your Site. What Now?

First off, congrats! We’re always glad to add new members to our tribe of open-source forum websites. Installing SMF is pretty straightforward, but once you install in on your website…what next?

Use Professional Images and Iconography on your Homepage.

woman running stock photo

Image Credit: iStockphoto.com

This is the most effective and simplest way to make your forums look clean, professional and respected. You can use your high-quality website logo at the top of your forums to give your website’s visitors a sense of continuity between your main website the forums.

Another great way is to add high-quality stock photography. Not just mindless photos of guys in business suits laughing, but instead you can add high quality patterns and imagery for the ‘wallpaper’ of your site.

And if doesn’t even have to be all that expensive, either. Stock photo site’s prices are jacked up because they deal with professional companies that buy thousands of images each month with their ‘purchasing department’. If you’re an independent publisher, search for an iStock promo code, which focus on independent publishers like you.

Create (or Upgrade) Your Website Logo:

Having an clean, pleasant and effective website logo can do absolute wonders for your website.

For Those Who Need To Create a Logo From Scratch:

There are two main ways to go about this: hire a professional (highly recommended) for your site, or you can create one yourself.
Option #1: Hire a professional logo design company like Logogarden.com. These are professional graphic artists that can design dozens of variations on a logo and then narrow down the options based on your feedback. If you want the highest quality logo, this is the way to go, but it’ll cost you at least $1,000.
Option #2: Use 99Designs.com. This is a ‘middle of the road’ alternative, where it doesn’t cost as much as a professional agency, but there’s no guarantee you’ll get an amazing logo.
The way 99designs works is like this: you make a request for a logo, along with your guidelines. Then, 100 graphic artists will create logos based on your requests. If you don’t like any of the options, you can walk away and not pay a penny. If you do, it’ll cost anywhere from $200-$700, depending on which plan you sign up for.
Option #3: – Design it yourself with free logo makers. This is the riskiest, but also ‘free-est’, option out there. Site like graphicsprings.com have free logo makers on their website where you can quickly try a few different ideas and designs to see which one you like.
If anything, you can get an idea of what you want before you approach a graphic artist.

Whoo! That logo design advice ended up becoming a whole lot longer than we had anticipated. But it does make a huge difference in visitor experience.

Other than that, you can install new themes on your forums, and try a few different ones until you find one you like. But if the background wallpaper and logo are unprofessional, then the themes can only do so much…

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