Letting go of cash to make a site

by Donna Fontenot December 23rd, 2005 

So, a few days ago I had an idea for a new site. My family hates hearing me say those words. It always elicits a groan from them, because they know that I go into a new site zone and block out everything else. Anyway, as I've mentioned in the past, I'm a cheapskate. I rarely pay for anything if I can accomplish the goal for free. But this time around, I decided to put some actual money into the site.

Instead of using any of the free forum scripts, for instance, I decided to buy vBulletin instead. Wow, I quickly discovered what a pain it is to work with. Oh sure, the installation was quick and easy, and if I had left it at that, it would have been no problem. But of course, I am a tweaker. Not only did I want a different look and feel, but I wanted to make all sorts of changes for SEO purposes.

The first thing I discovered is that the support forums assume you already know something about the script. For example, searching for answers on where to make a particular change, the responses invariably would say something like "Change the xyz template". Now, unlike regular sites, these templates aren't files that you can just ftp into and make changes to. No, they are hidden somewhere (I dont know where) and can only be accessed via the admin interface. However, there are gazillions of these things, and they aren't listed in alphabetical order, so finding the xyz template was a chore. A major chore. And of course the forum people never say, go here and then go here and then go here and then you will find the xyz template. Nope, just go change the xyz template. Ugh.

So, once I finally got through all of that rigamarole, I decided to see what I needed to do to make the URLs search engine friendly. Well, suffice it to say, after hours of pain (literally, because I had a major headache by then), I decided to spend even more money on vBSEO, which is a script that supposedly is pretty much plug and play to make this happen. And guess what? It was! After about 5 minutes, much of which was time I took to read the readme file, the script was installed and my forum was working exactly the way I wanted it to. Wonderful se friendly urls everywhere. What a joy! Now THAT was money well spent.

This site that I am working on is one of those that I expect to be big. You know the ones. The ones where you actually have very little competition (yet), but you know in your gut is going to get lots of traffic. Those kinds are rare indeed, but I think I have one cooking now. That is the reason I decided to shell out the bucks for a system that could handle big traffic, and although learning vBulletin is difficult, I am glad I finally have a chance to get my hands dirty with it. And with a product like vBSEO out there, it makes the task so much nicer.

So, if you do decide to use vBulletin (assuming you haven't already), don't hesitate to spend the extra bucks it takes for vBSEO. Unless of course, you enjoy the headaches of figuring out how to mod rewrite the thing. I know I didn't.

Now that my site is almost complete, I am going to spend the rest of the weekend enjoying the holidays. I hope all of you have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, and just Happy Holidays all around.

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