When Debra and Barry Benton acquired The Virtual Campground blog, they had ambitious plans to grow it into the kind of site that fosters interaction and even real-life friendships. Debra envisioned forums, and wasn’t deterred by the potential downside.
But without a big budget it would be hard to build both the forums the Bentons wanted and give the site the face lift we all felt it needed.
We devised a plan that came close enough.
First, we revised the site-wide color palette just a bit. That change set a more sophisticated tone for what was to follow. Then, we created a striking custom home page that gave the impression we’d redesigned the entire site (pro photographer Barry’s jaw-dropping images definitely added to the effect).
With key design elements on solid ground, we turned to the forum aspect of our project.
It’s easy to add forums to a WordPress website. What’s more difficult is doing it in a way that doesn’t paint a target on it for spammers and hackers. Additionally, forum software is quite heavy to run. Combined with a full-fledged blog/website, slow page loads would be inevitable.
To mitigate these issues, we stripped the design down to bare bones – basically just TVCs colors and logo in the header – and put the forums on a separate install of WordPress, on their own subdomain. Adding the same menus to both sites lets visitors move back and forth between the forum and main site as though they were one.
Like any forum or community, TVC’s forums will with care grow over time. But they’re off to a great start. If you’re an RVer or are thinking about RVing, head on over to the TVC forums and join their friendly crowd.
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