Moving Websites

Recently our guild made the move to a Enjin forum. While this won’t be a full blown review, I will be touching on some of the things that I discovered poking around the place while we made the switchover. I also wanted to take a moment to thank Matticus for pulling down a 90-day review period for our guild to evaluate Enjin’s product, because it gave us plenty of time to really decide whether the switch would be right for us.

Deciding to move was a hard decision for our group. Our old forums have been active for 4 years, and there’s a lot of history there for those who’ve actually been involved in the guild that long. However, we needed something different primarily because we’re down to basically one officer, but… and there’s always a but, he’s just not that whoo-hoo excited about doing things like, oh, updating the front page.

Because of the private forums that every raid member has for their own issues and talks with management, it makes it a little awkward to promote an administrator in a standard forum. We don’t really want a generalized admin that can poke their little nose in every forum, because, well, there’s private stuff floating around. On the other hand, we definitely would benefit from having a couple mid-grade admins (as it were) who could change up some things but were blocked from others.

When I first poked my head into the admin section of the Enjin site, I was a little overwhelmed with the permissions and tag system. I thought right away “this would be awesome for a multi-group guild” whether that’s a guild that crosses games, or guilds that runs multiple teams within a single game. However, after playing with it a bit, we discovered that it would be awesome for us as well. We needed personal forums for each raider, and different levels of access and permissions for different sections of the website, and that could be accomplished with ease. We now have members who can edit the theme, members who can edit the front-page and restrictions in all the right places for our members in the forums.

The other thing I really liked was the customization available for the look and feel of the forums. While we haven’t really gotten around to updating the skin, we have been able to plug in a banner, and customize the background to match our own needs. On our front page the background crest shines through the overlying skin, while on our forums we were able to opaque the skin and make it oh so much easier to read.

There’s plenty of pre-made widgets for those who want a plug and play type set-up which is pretty convenient. You can also choose to be a bit more hands on and do quite a bit of customization to this as well.

On the other hand, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with everything available. The application process seems really nice if you have a rather straight forward apply and accept/decline policy. Our group likes to talk…. a lot. We want a lot of interaction between ourselves and the applicant, and while there is an option to make comments that the applicant can read and reply to as well as private comments among the team, the stream-lined application process could actually lead an applicant to believe that they just had to apply and wait for a yes or no. The difference between applying to the guild and applying to the forum also seemed a bit clunky to me, but it may just be it not working like it would make sense to me.

The other thing to be aware of is if you’ve used a plug & post type guild forum anywhere else, you’re going to feel lost for a bit as you wander around the back-end. Most guild sites I’ve set up have been pretty similar in terms of where to upload your banner, pick your theme, and set up new forums and permissions. Enjin tends to be a bit more compartmentalized. Once you get a hang of how the back end is set up, it becomes more natural working in it, but don’t expect to get everything you want set up and running in an hour. I know I spent a good thirty minutes just trying to find where the banner should be uploaded.

All in all, with plenty of members willing to chip in, but a very restricted officer base (a true army of one!) having the flexibility that Enjin afforded us I think will really keep our website staying updated.