We do like Vanilla Forums PHP self hosted version. We’ve not tried their cloud version. These tips are for the self hosted version. These are just a few starting tips. More tutorials will come.
When we write tutorials, we will sometimes show you where to find things. This will include yoursite.com as a generic domain. You would replace that with your own domain and add the rest of the link to it.
- After you install Vanilla (or have us install it), you’ll want to take some time to check out their built-in tutorials. yoursite.com/dashboard/settings/gettingstarted and you need to be logged in with the administrator account. Once there, you’ll see a good amount of starter video tutorials.
- Add and check your User Roles to ensure you have it how you want it before you open. yoursite.com/dashboard/role
- Check the registration settings and set these up how you want them. yoursite.com/dashboard/settings/registration and maybe set this to invite only while your site is being set up.
- Add a backup admin account in case something happens with your main account. yoursite.com/dashboard/user and you can also add test users if you want. Good idea to have some helpers to test before you go live.
- Set your ban filters for words and other things you deem necessary. yoursite.com/dashboard/settings/bans .
- Check your spamming flood control settings and have these how you think they should be for your site. Each forum is unique so these settings need to be tweaked for how your site will be used. yoursite.com/vanilla/settings/floodcontrol .
- Very important. Set up your forum categories as these will also get indexed in search engines so make sure you get these how you want them before you open the site. yoursite.com/vanilla/settings/managecategories .
- Add some tags that will be relevant to your site niche to make it easier for your users to use them. yoursite.com/settings/tagging .
- This part will be site specific so we won’t go into detail as each site will want different things enabled. Set up the plugins you want to use and test each one to make sure they are set up how you want them. yoursite.com/dashboard/settings/plugins .
- Set up the outgoing mail and we recommend using Mandrill with smtp setting. yoursite.com/dashboard/settings/email .
- Routes should be set up before you take the site “live”. yoursite.com/dashboard/routes and we don’t tend to use these but you might decide you want to.
- Set your banner for your site yoursite.com/dashboard/settings/banner . This is also where to load your logo.
- Decide how you want the homepage layout to look yoursite.com/dashboard/settings/homepage and you should experiment with this once you’ve added categories and added some test posts and test replies.
- Choose your theme yoursite.com/dashboard/settings/themes or get a custom one .
- Set up your announcement if you need one or more, for when you open so new users will see a welcome or some instructions yoursite.com/dashboard/message .