Ulthuan

Ulthuan, Home of the Asur
It is currently Tue Mar 19, 2019 1:41 am

All times are UTC




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 2 posts ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2005 12:31 am 
Offline
Wise Old Dwarf
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2004 3:23 pm
Posts: 631
Location: Brighton, UK
Ricold's guide to forming a new Warhammer website:

Firstly, this is not a technical guide. if you need advice on actually setting up a forum and using it, go somewhere else. This is a guide for all those people that have built a website/forum, and are advertising, and are being shot down because their site is sh*t.

OK, so lets scrap the other title...

Ricold's guide to re-building your Warhammer website so people may actually visit.

(Why should you listen to me? A good point that I'll cover before starting. I have run or helped to run several websites now. Throughout the Storm of Chaos in 2004 I ran a site called the Conclave of Light, which peaked at 2300 members after 12 months. I subsequently installed and set up the previous forum for Asur.org (what is now here), and worked as a Loremaster. I finally installed and run Hammer and Anvil)

Aim:
Every website *must* have an aim, or a purpose. Start by trying to answer the following:
What does my site do that's unique*? (*Not done by most of the existing Warhammer sites already)
Why should a member visit my site instead of someone else's?
Does my site actually look like it's worthy of existence?

If you struggle to answer any of the above, then you need to sit down, and work out what the answer should be before you proceed any further.

Being Unique:
It's not easy to be unique, but you have to find some way to stand out from the crowd. A virtually unique aim is even harder to come by now days, as their are websites that do virtually everything. Firstly, you need your aim. The combination of your aim and how you do it should be unique. A High Elf site is not unique. Asur have been doing it for years. A High Elf site that is entirely dedicated to fluff and fiction (battle and RPG, but no actually gaming material), probably *would* be unique. If you could get an aim like this to work, you'd probably have a reasonable chance of your site succeeding, because it virtually answers the first 2 questions above. It's unique for being dedicated to fluff, and people should visit it, because you are going to ensure it's being developed and run by people with a dedication to your fluff that will give you unique content aren't you?

Unique content: (Why here and not somewhere else?)
If you want a site to stand out, you will need two things, unique content, and traffic. I can very much appreciate both are hard to come by. Call in favours (or ask for favours) from anyone you can to try and build up unique content.
Unique content is also much easier to come by if you have a small team working on it *before* you start advertising. Advertising a blank site will get some people to look, but most will see a blank site and turn back to whatever else they are doing. To grip them you really need traffic, and a core of members generating that is ideal.

Worthiness of existence:
OK, so you have your unique idea, you have a few dedicated friends, and you code up your site in gaudy yellow and blue. You may have a really worthy idea and team, but if viewing your site gives people an epileptic fit, you are not going to get traffic. Sure, you may like your psycho theme, but you're not making this site for you, you're making it for the members*.
But worthiness of existence isn't limited to the colour scheme. It's also on the format, layout and information pages. There is this odd rumour that you can run a site with nothing but a forum. Excepting odd circumstances, this is not quite correct. You can run a site with only a forum, IF you have a good clear source of "pages" of information within the forum (many of the IFB's work like this) or attached to the outside of the forum, or you are content to have a poor site with little traffic. If you are running a phpBB site, there are a variety of options available for adding pages, including a multi-page portal, or a article system.
Otherwise, you still have options. Plain HTML is the simplest. When you want to add data, you just edit the HTML and upload it again. Programs like Website Baker can also be used as php based websites, or you can go the whole way and use a system like php Nuke.

Do bear in mind here that you can expand out from storing information within the forum, to storing it on an external system, and it can be recommended to reduce pre-release workload. But please don't ignore the need for the information completely, it will really give your site a boost, and that is why you're reading this isn't it?

Site size:
Empty sites attract no members.
And a site doesn't even have to be empty to achieve this, for in fact, it refers to the relative posts to forums ratio, and this should be high in favour of forums at all times. That is, if you're only getting 10 posts a day to your site, you should be looking at no more then 2-3 active discussion areas on your site. If people see a site where the main forum is getting even 3-4 posts a day, when they check in every 3-4 days, they will see 6-16 new posts, which is enough they will read, and should reply to at least one. On the other hand, if you are getting 10 posts a day and you have 22 forums, then over 3-4 days, each one will have 1-2 posts in it, which many people will ignore. It may be the same amount of posts, but it appears more spread out, and people will ignore it more. Expand only when there is need to, and don't expand too fast. This applies equally to member count. You should never have more forums then you have members, an ideal ratio should be 4 or more members to a forum.

Advertising:
This is a touchy subject at best. If you want to try advertising on other sites, pick your targets carefully. Those that will delete your link on site are not good places to advertise. Avoid straight adverts on Asur, Bugmans or W-Empire.
Firstly, design your advert. Don't just post "I have a new site, check it out: link", because immediately people will switch off. On the other hand, if you say "I have been working on developing a site. It's aims are to discuss the High Elf race, it's future, it's past, and possible changes. We are looking for new blood to allow us to better form our ideas around the community as a whole, and to infuse us with more of the background from the race's past, so we can better hope to try and see where they are going. This is for the Elves very survival // Link" You will find you get better responses. Ideally an advert should be 2-3 paragraphs, designed to get an emotional response from the reader, and please note my above example was not very good at this either. If you then post that on a forum, more people that read it will like what you are saying, and may head over to discuss it, at which point you have new members.
The other type of ad you can do is the signature ad. This is allowed in most forums, and if done correctly can be just as effective. You either need a banner, or a title and a brief, concise description. Continuing my above example, a sig ad might look something like: "Elves... Past and present. See how you can influence your race in fluff and story: Link" By giving a description you will get .5 seconds from some readers as they flip down a thread. If you can get their attention in that .5 sec, you have the potential of a new member who will head over just to see what you are on about. Note that spreading sig adverts does require you to be somewhat active on the site you are trying to advertise on, and this is why they are generally accepted.
One more interesting point on advertising. As counter productive as it might seem, if you are advertising a HE site, don't do it on a HE site. The existing staff and members will see it as member stealing, and will dislike it. However, if you advertise a HE site on a DE site for instance, you may pick up people who either collect both races, or the occasional person who has just not found a race specific board for their own race. In either case you are suddenly not appealing to the major demographic, and the staff are less worried.

On one final point, if you want to test out your new advertising skills on Hammer and Anvil, my own site, be welcome. We are dedicated down there to rules testing and development, much like the stuff in the ideas forum here.

*pause*

Read the above paragraph again.

*pause*

Did you spot the advert?
It's there, blatant and obvious, if you're looking for it. This is my final example of advertising. Mention your site in an off hand way when talking about something related. Like what I've done, a common trick is "I know that, there was a similar thread here: link" where the link is to an internal thread of your own forum. Sure, it's not so effective, or easy, but can generate more traffic. And don't overdo this tactic. Note how much more I wrote on topic before advertising at the end (The entire article). But as much as it *is* an advert, and we do need more members, please don't use H+A as a testing ground for ads.

Setting up a website is neither easy, nor always fun. But if you can pick something unique, and you can make your site work, then it can be very rewarding to do so.

Good Luck

Ricold

(*Aren't you? If you answer "no" here, please leave now, and never, ever, ever, come back)

This article is (c) Copyright Rick Bunyan ("Ricold") 2005, 2007. It may not be re-produced in part or in whole without explicit prior consent of the author. Re-production without consent will lead to action being taken against the perpetrator. Be welcome to link to the original though.

_________________
Ricold, Not site owner any more, largely absent. PM me if you want me. PM Prince of Spires if you need the head Loremaster.


Last edited by Ricold on Sun Jan 21, 2007 10:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2005 11:13 pm 
Offline
Lord of the Eagles

Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2004 10:17 am
Posts: 397
I would like to add a few notes to this. Though by no means as succesful as Ricold, I do have quite some experience as Loremaster here and with websites in general that may be of use to you.

First of all, I would like to stress that the internet is not a prestige project. Ricold already clearly put this down, but you should aim to supply people with information and not to get something to brag about. Only if this is the case, you'll have enough willpower to continue building. Keep in mind that each and every single large warhammer site has been around multiple years. Even without any competition at all, this site needed years and years to get to this point. Yours on the other hand is situated in a world that already has a few giants that you'll have to best in addition to all other problems that tend to arise when your site grows.

Secondly, do NOT promise people mod rights if they join up. It happens time and again, and it spells doom to your should-be website. This has multiple reasons:

Staffer aren't just members with a fancy title. You need to be able to rely on these folks. They will have to do the brunch of the work together with you, and that is a lot. It so happens to be that the people who aren't willing to work in order to become mod usually won't work after they have become mod either. In fact, I only know one person who asked for admin rights multiple times and actually did a good job when he got them.

In addition, running a site will eventually cost money and, while usually the webmaster pays things, to have admins who are willing to share this load helps immensely. You only have a small change of enountering someone with the will and/or capabilities to do this amongt those few early birds.

Lastly, you simply won't need them. Asur.org runs with 5 admins, usually one or two being pretty inactive. That's enough for over 400 posts a day. Clearly, you'll have no trouble at all dealing with those 10-ish posts on your brand new forum.

A third point to keep in mind is that the content and traffic mentionned by Ricold are closely related. The more content, the more traffic, the more new content. If there isn't any traffic to generate new content, that means you are responsible for making things tick. Expect to update lots and lots during the first year or so, and follow a scedule. If you update weekly, some people will check weekly. Even a short message "sorry, nothing this week because I'm stuck with exams, but next week I'll *insert update here*" will make them come back next week. No update means they will leave, assuming the site has died.
As closing remark I'd like to state that, even though Asur.org now generates enough content to 'stay alive' on its own, even we have various things running behind the scenes at all times to ensure new things are added frequently enough.

Cheers,
Elthair

_________________
~ I like maxims that don't encourage behavior modification.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 2 posts ] 

All times are UTC


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group