Choosing a theme for your forum

Ashish Shrivastava on the 26 Oct 2014 in a few words

In my last article, we saw how to manage your forum, now concentrating more on the forums niche, we will see more articles regarding things that will help you create an effective forum.


The first and foremost thing here again to be considered is "what is the niche or subject of your forum?" Every single theme available online has its own color scheme and layout and a very common mistake that young Administrators make is that they go for looks, regardless of whether the theme suits their niche or not.

Let's see some examples:-
Improper theme selection for corresponding niche

  • A fishing related forum that has a theme with sunburst colors.

  • A Money making discussion board that has a water style theme.

  • A coding discussion board that has a paint drip styles theme.

These are just a few examples which may sound weird for your users.

There are a plenty of themes available, some are free wjile some are paid. However bluntly choosing a theme just because of its looks can make your visitors lose interest in your forum. Extreme care should be applied while choosing a theme so as to avoid losing visitors because visitors are very important for the growth of a forum. Let's see, a point ludicrous but every now and then, a forum comes up with such Improper theme selection mainly because the owner finds the theme so fascinating that he/she can't resist using it. In that case we have to remember that the forum is not only ours.

"A forum is made by us for the members"

Therefore everything an Admin does for the forum should be done so as to suit the members (there are certain exceptions which are to be applied like some modifications etc. but theme is a big factor and it should be selected keeping members in mind.) Now coming back to the point, the theme must suit the niche of the forum, here are some examples:-
Proper theme selection for corresponding niche

  • A cooking related forum having a multicolored (doesn't mean you can use all the colors of rainbow )theme with proper food related icons and banner.

  • A webmaster discussion board with a cool white - blue color scheme based web 2.0 style theme

  • A graphics related forum with a multicolored artistic 3D illusion based theme. These are just some little examples of forums coming with accurate themes to suit their corresponding niche.

Now take a moment off reading and imagine the example of improper and proper theme selection stated above in real and note the difference it creates in your mind to decide whether you want to join the forum or not. you will clearly see how the proper selection of theme influences your visitors.

Color Scheme

Color Scheme of the theme also plays an important role in influencing your visitors and it is up to certain extent affected by the niche of forum too. For Example :-

  • Gaming forums are always supposed to have dark & flashy colors.

  • Advertisement Related forums go well with blueish themes.

  • Webmaster forums should have well blended colors in their theme.

The above examples are quite right and most of the forums of the corresponding niches are found to be following these color schemes but if you can find a unique theme on the same color scheme then your forum will stand out much better.

On the other hand if you don't know what color scheme to follow for your forum then think about the kind of effect you want to put on your members when they visit the board. If you want to create energized environment in the board then go for a bright well blended color scheme, If you want to create a serious environment then go for a cool light color theme, If you want dark engaging environment then go for a dark theme with fluorescent effects and so on. So what you will need for selecting a proper color scheme is "imagination".

Code Base

This is another important factor for selecting themes especially in phpbb where themes are divided into two categories "prosilver" & "subsilver", so you will have to look carefully around the mods and support base to know which theme will suit your forum better in mod installations etc. thereby helping the forum in the long run.

Version support

Make sure that the theme you want to use supports the latest version of your forum software, else they will not end up looking as shown in the preview.


Remember to always read the topics related to the particular theme you selected because very often you will find crucial info including some minor flaws regarding that particular theme.

Essentially, selecting a good theme is like selecting any other product. You just need to know and understnad what you are looking for. There has been a lot of talking on my part here, now it is your turn: how did you go about selecting your current theme? What words of wisdom can you give those who are about to do it for the first time? Do leave your comments!

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