Before deciding if the SMF forum software is for you, let us take a quick overview of how SMF, and community forum software in general, works. This will allow you to make a decision on whether this type of software is right for your website.
The first thing you will need to do is to install the program onto your hosting account. There are two ways to install SMF program software onto your server. InMotion Hosting provides a software installer tool known as Softaculous for shared server customers (this is a premium option for VPS and Dedicated server customers). This software simply installs other software for you and removes a lot of the tedious work that would be involved in a manual installatio. It automatically sets up the folder structure, the database, and sets up the necessary connections. If you do not have Softaculous, you will need to install SMF manually.
Logging into the Administrative dashboard
The main administrative account is created when you install the program. You will need to know how to log into the administrative area in order to begin creating your community. Unlike other software, you do not have a separate administrative login page. Simply log into the site as any other user but use the Administrator name and password you assigned during the isntallation.
Create a Forum
Afer installing the program and logging in as the Adminsitrator, you are ready to begin creating your community. Your SMF forum community will be composed of many topics and posts. You will need to create a forum for your new site users to begin to interact with.
The site visitors will need to create an account in order to interact with each other on your forums. Though you may allow guests to posta anonymously, user accounts keep track of users’ specific posts, responses, and allow individual features such as avatars and signatures. This helps customize the community and the members can become recognized individually.
Create a post
After creating an account, the users will be able to interact and contribute to the site by creating topics and replies. This is how your community is built. The more members that sign up and create topics, the more information they have to talk about, and the more active the community will become.
Create a reply
Once a user creates a topic and it is able to be seen on the site, other users will then be able to reply. The members will respond with to each other which creates a conversation known as a ‘thread’. These threads are the building blocks of your community. An active userbase will also invite others to join them, expanding your site.
Lastly, as your community grows larger and larger, you will need to oversee your members and may be even recruit others to help. You can give moderation privileges to certain users or even create a group for that purpose. You can also learn to create different groups for specific purposes such as special forums or even premium (paying) members.
This wraps up the general overview of how the SMF forum community software works. If you are now ready to begin creating your new forum website, continue on to learn how to install SMF either with Softaculous or manually!