Digital Point Redesign – Ditches VBulletin for XenForo

screenshot of digital point forum home

What is Digital Point?

digital point logoI’ve used Digital Point for several years and it’s become an invaluable part of coming of age as a SEO Professional. Although a lot of the threads are spammy – filled with black hat practitioners and Indian SEO companies looking for a fast buck, it still is the most expansive and well-maintained webmaster forum on the internet. The blog is updated frequently and always has plenty of answers to digital marketing’s burning questions. The forums are also useful for finding new link building opportunities – either in the form of guest posting or sponsorships.

VBulletin Out – XenForo In

xenforo logo

XenForo is a commercial internet forum CMS, powered by PHP using the Zend framework.

Up until the redesign, Digital Point was using VBulletin as their Content Management System. VBulletin is a forum software that powers many of the webs most popular communities including Ubuntu Forums, Warrior Forum,, and many more. There’s a reason that most all forums have the same look, they’re all running VBulletin as their CMS. In fact, XenForo was developed by a team led by former vBulletin developers Kier Darby and Mike Sullivan. At first I was taken back by the redesign in the same way that FaceBook users get up in arms whenever anything changes. After five days of using the “new” Digital Point forum I can say that it’s a fresh alternative to VBulletin.

What’s New in Digital Point

the new message dropdown box on digital point
Overall, a cleaner and more useful interface. The standout feature is the ability to see your messages via drop down box. Before you had to click back to your inbox to check messages – which can be extremely laborious. With groundbreaking web technologies like jQuery and JavaScript, and the proliferation of mobile-inspired interfaces – drop down boxes can be used to stack content dynamically across the web – best exemplified here the inbox. The point of good user interface design (especially on the web) is to get people to their destination in as few clicks as possible. Drop down boxes, toggles, and CSS3 all make this possible. A “quick glance”-style redesign is perfect for backend systems where users search through messages and alerts.

XenForo Is Growing in Popularity

For a one-time fee of $140 and a year of ticketed support, it’s no surprise that XenForo is being widely adopted amongst web masters. Although VBulletin has a lot of the same features I believe that XenForo’s price point and fresh look will give it an edge over other outdated forum software.

Features of XenForo

xenforo facebook integration

XenForo integrates FaceBook nicely.

Social Engagement – XenForo connects with FaceBook’s open graph, allowing users to comment on threads via their FaceBook profiles. This is great exposure because in most cases when users allow an “app” on their FaceBook it posts to their wall. Another nice feature is the trophy system which allows users to unlock certain profile badges in accordance to how often they post, interact, and give qualified answers. Anyone with a Playstation can appreciate this.

xen foro offers a custom alert system
Custom Alerts – Although many blogs (including this one) have built in features that notify people when new comments are posted, XenForo takes it a step further by enabling alerts to pop up when someone responds to your status, similar to how FaceBook works. You’re also able to customize all of your alerts in the backend so you’re not stuck with annoying popups constantly.

xenforo seo options
Built-in SEO Options – Readable, semantic, URLs are often a problem with many content management systems. Often times you’ll see cookies and session IDs in the URL. It’s bad for the user and the search engine as well. XenForo cleans these up and also offers semantic markups within the posting, threading, and commenting pages. Thanks to Google and (I’m under the impression that the whole Schema thing is a scam, intended to make Google’s life easier by providing them standard information formats) we can now feed information on our websites to search engine using sematic markup.

Overall, We’d Recommend XenForo

The forum software market isn’t exactly over saturated. I’ve had plenty of experience using VBulletin and it performs many of the same functions. XenForo puts a nicer “bow” on everything though, providing a functional user experience and improved, modern design. Because VBulletin has dominated the market space for so long I can imagine that some web masters are chomping at the bit to use it. The problem is that many enterprise websites are so tied into VBulletin that there’s no going back. Anyone looking to start a new forum-based website though, should give XenForo a good look.

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