Software, Hosting, Domains – Forums for Beginners

This is the second post in this series Forums for Beginners

Now that you’ve decided what Niche or topic to create your forum for its time to look into domains, hosting, and forum software.

Domain, Name, and Hosting
First, You’re going to want to look for a domain name for you forum. I recommend GoDaddy because if the site you want to buy is taken, it will give you similar domains that are still available. You’ll also need to find some hosting. There are plenty of sites out there that give you ratings on different hosts, just google about hosting and you’ll find plenty. I suggest doing you homework for both decisions on the domain as well as hosting because it can really help or hinder your experience and the traffic on your board.

You’ll also want to name your forum. Now many people name their forum the same thing their domain and this is a good idea, but sometimes it might not work out that way, or you want it to be different and that is fine. Just make sure your domain name, as well as your forum name aren’t too long, and can be remembered by people browsing the web. Another thing you’ll want to consider at this stage is if you want your site to be only a forum (for example takes you right to the forum), or if you’d like a website or homepage with a link to the forum from there.

Forum Software
Another very important decision is what forum software you will use to run and manage your forum. If you’re completely new to forums or are comfortable with certain ones from other forums you’re a member I still recommend either way that you look at many different options when it comes to what software to use. To some users the software doesn’t matter, and they might not even notice a difference between different ones, but some users prefer certain software over others. Another big thing in chosing a piece of forum software to use is that the Admin Controls can be completely different from one to another.

I suggest taking time to look at different Forum Software, and most (if not all) have a “test run” they’ll let you do with a live site on their site that gives you a feel for both posting as well as editing, moving, moderating and administrating the forum. I highly recommend this, and not to just “jump in” to the first one you see or are thinking about using.

Another aspect is if you have the money to dish out for paid forum software, or free software. If you’re new to forum administration, I’d personally go with a free one first just so you don’t feel trapped if you decide that forums aren’t the way you want to go with your website. If you have the money to spend however, paid systems like vBulletin are great because they have good support and a very large community who will help you out if you run into problems. They also are more secure and defiant against forum hackers and spambots that enjoy to reek havok on your otherwise pleasant forum. I’ve linked some popular free and paid forum software below for you to test out.

phpBB – the largest free forum software. Tons of modifications and themes, but also is hacked into and spammed more often because of its popularity.
SMF – my personal favorite free forum. Not nearly as popular as phpBB but it is growing rapidly and continues to give users more options and add-ons almost daily
MyBB – A new but powerful contender in the free market. I haven’t used their software personally, but have heard many good things.

vBulletin – vBulletin is widely recognized as the leader of the forum world, but does cost money. It however will continue to update, and is the preferred choice by most of the “big boards” out there for a reason.
IPB – Invision Power Board was originaly a free choice, but moved to paid as it grew and is now vB’s top paid competitor.

This is the second post in this seriesĀ Forums for Beginners