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How to 'sell' PHPBB!!!

Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 3:44 am
by Blackfog
[Thanks for redirecting me if my question has been answered elsewhere]

Hello dears,

I have been using PHPBB since years now, as a user/moderator/Admin. Only recently has it happened that when I have tried to SELL THE CONCEPT of using such a good forum to others they have asked for VALIDATION!

Ok, the background is like this: Previously while using/deploying it in college nobody asked questions as to "why only phpbb?". But this time I am pushing for usage of PHPBB in the company where I work. However the senior management has never seen it, and they don't have time to see it too. They just want validation as to "why only phpbb?". Feature-wise it will suffice their needs for a forum. But then so do the existing corporate tools (which I am against, since they are crapping tools with no user friendliness at all).

Personally I cannot come up with enough arguments to convince them, and what better place to seek such arguments than a fanbase :) Hence my questions:
Q. In itself how is PHPBB better than having a crappy forum? (I am looking for more than adjectives or qualitative advantages like it saves time, its convenient. We all know that already. Wish they could see it from our eyes).

Q. Specifically one thing that I have in mind is, if someone has done a "usability" study of PHPBB then it'll best suit my purpose. How is PHPBB the easiest one to use and integrates 'smoothly' via these user friendly features/interface?

Q. What are the differentiating features of PHPBB over others (like Phorum, invision board, etc.)?

Thanks for your support and for bearing with me.



PS: Oh and if the subject line got ya, that was intended :lol:

Re: How to 'sell' PHPBB!!!

Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 5:17 am
by Marshalrusty
Indeed, our current marketing efforts leave a lot to be desired. It could be said that we hope the quality of phpBB itself will encourage people to use it instead of another software option.

Keep in mind that whether you find phpBB to be easier to use than other software depends on your expectations and general knowledge. Different people will find alternate variations of the same thing intuitive. The best way to figure out whether phpBB is best for you is to try other software and compare.

Here is a site that compares the features of various bulletin board software: http://www.forummatrix.org/
Keep in mind that the reviews are often "shallow". They will tell you whether something is available, but will not tell you how well it works or how easy it is to use.

If all you're looking for is a simple argument on why to use phpBB, then tell them it's the most popular opensource bulletin board system. This is a whole site full of people who think it is better than the alternatives (at least those who have tried the alternatives).

Re: How to 'sell' PHPBB!!!

Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 5:59 am
by Blackfog
Thanks for your reply dear.
Marshalrusty wrote:Indeed, our current marketing efforts leave a lot to be desired. It could be said that we hope the quality of phpBB itself will encourage people to use it instead of another software option
Precisely my point! We as a community are relying on word of mouth publicity rather than dishing out hard facts/stats/usability case studies/etc. to sell the concept.
Keep in mind that whether you find phpBB to be easier to use than other software depends on your expectations and general knowledge. Different people will find alternate variations of the same thing intuitive.
Yes indeed. But management relies only on proof/validation (as they keep emphasizing again and again). But still general usability is something that is independent of an individual.
The best way to figure out whether phpBB is best for you is to try other software and compare.
Others in my company don't want to try and compare. They want me to either validate my choice or else they'll go to internal s/w team for their solution.
They will tell you whether something is available, but will not tell you how well it works or how easy it is to use.
Hence I am NOT asking for feature comparison. Features are always there in all s/w but 'usability' (read user friendliness) is what matters!



Ok I guess I am running the risk of sounding desperate here, which precisely I am. After knowing my reasons, I hope the community becomes desperate too. We are talking a world leading company: it comes in top 5 in its industry; with >$10 billion revenues per annum; with more than 50,000 employees (yes 50k)! If I am able to push it, then at least my dept. (~10k users) are going to be on PHPBB. And in the long run I want to make a test case and convince other dept. to shift to PHPBB. Guess if we have such a large one running its internal system on PHPBB we can again make a test case out of it and convince other corporates/SMEs to shift to PHPBB! In long term I wish to be able to somehow convince our s/w development team to contribute modules for PHPBB, but its wishful thinking.

Re: How to 'sell' PHPBB!!!

Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 6:13 am
by Rotsblok
Blackfog wrote:Thanks for your reply dear.
Marshalrusty wrote:Indeed, our current marketing efforts leave a lot to be desired. It could be said that we hope the quality of phpBB itself will encourage people to use it instead of another software option
Precisely my point! We as a community are relying on word of mouth publicity rather than dishing out hard facts/stats/usability case studies/etc. to sell the concept.
Keep in mind that whether you find phpBB to be easier to use than other software depends on your expectations and general knowledge. Different people will find alternate variations of the same thing intuitive.
Yes indeed. But management relies only on proof/validation (as they keep emphasizing again and again). But still general usability is something that is independent of an individual.
The best way to figure out whether phpBB is best for you is to try other software and compare.
Others in my company don't want to try and compare. They want me to either validate my choice or else they'll go to internal s/w team for their solution.
They will tell you whether something is available, but will not tell you how well it works or how easy it is to use.
Hence I am NOT asking for feature comparison. Features are always there in all s/w but 'usability' (read user friendliness) is what matters!



Ok I guess I am running the risk of sounding desperate here, which precisely I am. After knowing my reasons, I hope the community becomes desperate too. We are talking a world leading company: it comes in top 5 in its industry; with >$10 billion revenues per annum; with more than 50,000 employees (yes 50k)! If I am able to push it, then at least my dept. (~10k users) are going to be on PHPBB. And in the long run I want to make a test case and convince other dept. to shift to PHPBB. Guess if we have such a large one running its internal system on PHPBB we can again make a test case out of it and convince other corporates/SMEs to shift to PHPBB! In long term I wish to be able to somehow convince our s/w development team to contribute modules for PHPBB, but its wishful thinking.
I've read your opinion and yes you are right. But does it fit in the views of the makers? I mean you can ask for a lot and want a lot but if the in take of the makers is on the other side (meaning we don't care if we are topdog.. we just want to offer this..) of the lake. Then I think all your efforts are nice, but meaningless sort of....but that is just my point of view.. And on the other hand in what area do you want to be top dog.. number of sites that uses phpBB, number of very large communities?.. As per your case study.. You first need to map out on what your numbers will be based on. What your goal is in the "advertising" plan and how you can get the numbers to see if your ad plan has worked..

Re: How to 'sell' PHPBB!!!

Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 10:37 pm
by EXreaction
Well, as for using an internal software team to build their own forums, I can pretty much guarantee that will be the worst result possible. It will cost a lot of money to make anything decent (let alone compatible to phpBB!). There is a much higher likely hood of security vulnerabilities and bugs in an internal project, they simply do not have as diverse of a user base who can read the source code and test it.

phpBB3 had a full line by line security audit by a 3rd party (was for 3.0.0-RC6 if I remember correctly). From that we can proudly say we've had zero major or critical vulnerabilities in the software since the 3.0.0 release. No other forum software I know of can match that.

phpBB3 is overall pretty user friendly. There are a few minor things (mostly in the user/moderator/administrative control panels), but overall it is very good IMO. Not any worse than other forum software I've used.

The one thing that some people like to request that I can think of related to usability (for people with very little forum experience) is a WYSIWYG editor. I can definitely see where a business would want that for it's own systems if the main users of it will be people used to writing word documents and such. But, if that is something desired by your company and they had planned to build their own software as an alternative, they'd still be better off using phpBB and building a modification for a WYSIWYG editor (even better if they would contribute it back to phpBB in a modification!).

But the main issue I would push for is security. Security in phpBB is top notch, easily beating all other forum software I know of and almost certainly any software built in house. On top of that, when it comes to building software in house, that would take a huge amount of money and resources to match phpBB. Instead of building in house they could spend a fraction in resources to customize phpBB in which ever way they want to (if they want to) and end up with a much better forum than would be built in house completely.

Re: How to 'sell' PHPBB!!!

Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 12:50 am
by narqelion
EXreaction wrote:Well, as for using an internal software team to build their own forums, I can pretty much guarantee that will be the worst result possible.
That is certainly an interesting statement. Are you stating that you believe professional software developers being paid to develop something professionally by their own company are incapable of developing an equivalent if not superior product than volunteers of various professional backgrounds and/or students working on an open source project part time as a hobby?

@Blackfog, what you are asking for is almost completely subjective. If you were to do a feature by feature comparison of 3.0.5 to current versions of Invision, vBulletin, SMF etc phpBB would not have the most features or even the best implementations from an end user standpoint. I use it because it's open source and free, not because I believe it's the best available. See, it's really subjective based on your own experiences with it and other scripts. What matters personally to me is that it's open source, so I am willing to settle for less features and hack my way around it's usability issues. What matters to you personally is what you should base your selection on. If you like it then use it, if you cannot justify it's use to your management then perhaps you shouldn't use it. I know from personal experience I could never get my company to let me install phpBB as an internal communication tool for very sound reasons, a key one being no official support or accountability offered by the vendor. :)

Re: How to 'sell' PHPBB!!!

Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 3:08 am
by A_O_C
narqelion wrote:That is certainly an interesting statement. Are you stating that you believe professional software developers being paid to develop something professionally by their own company are incapable of developing an equivalent if not superior product than volunteers of various professional backgrounds and/or students working on an open source project part time as a hobby?
I think Nathan's point was security. Can professional developers "code" a product built to suit thier needs? Sure! However, unless you have a userbase comparable to the size of phpBB, you will miss something - whether it be security vulnerability or something else. Since phpBB was audited (paid, mind you) but a 3rd party company that specializes in this area, we can safely say that you are better off using phpBB than spending time and money on something that will do the same thing, quite possibly with more security holes than you can shake a stick at.

To each thier own I guess...

Re: How to 'sell' PHPBB!!!

Posted: Sat Aug 22, 2009 9:57 pm
by Pony99CA
A_O_C wrote:Can professional developers "code" a product built to suit thier needs? Sure! However, unless you have a userbase comparable to the size of phpBB, you will miss something - whether it be security vulnerability or something else.
True, because all software of any size has bugs. Even if the phpBB.com team aren't "professional" developers, they probably have a very good knowledge of phpBB and the domain by now, arguably better than some general internal development team has. Yes, the internal team can gain domain knowledge, but how long will that take? If the company wants a solution now, building your own will likely take much longer.
A_O_C wrote:Since phpBB was audited (paid, mind you) but a 3rd party company that specializes in this area, we can safely say that you are better off using phpBB than spending time and money on something that will do the same thing, quite possibly with more security holes than you can shake a stick at.
Depending on how the software is deployed, security holes may not be that big of an issue. If the board is only used on an intranet and run on a dedicated machine, only internal users (or users who were otherwise compromised -- which is a bigger issue) could hack the board. I'm not saying security isn't important, of course, just maybe not paramount for certain uses.

However, narqelion pointed out one big issue -- accountability. Internal software teams are accountable for their code and can be given direction for new features; phpBB.com developers aren't accountable to anybody directly (other than maybe other team members) and can't be told to develop a specific feature (and many of us have tried :D).

However, one way to approach the accountability issue might be to find out if the company is using Linux or Windows. Linux is open source and its developers aren't accountable to you. Windows is developed by Microsoft and probably has specific disclaimers about bugs and you can't dictate features to Microsoft, either. So how is using phpBB worse than using Linux or Windows?

Steve

Re: How to 'sell' PHPBB!!!

Posted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 5:47 am
by Desdenova
narqelion wrote:That is certainly an interesting statement. Are you stating that you believe professional software developers being paid to develop something professionally by their own company are incapable of developing an equivalent if not superior product than volunteers of various professional backgrounds and/or students working on an open source project part time as a hobby?
I think so myself. It's called the Archimedes effect.
"Give me a lever large enough and I can move the world"

When you think about it, our collective ability far outweighs that of a team of professional developers.

Re: How to 'sell' PHPBB!!!

Posted: Sat Sep 12, 2009 10:09 am
by ForwardMover
phpBB software is a good product, but it takes a lot to stay in business.

I posted similar info years ago, but did not get much of a reply.

Much of sales and marketing is very simple. People sometimes buy "the steak"; but you still often need "the sizzle"

You need to communicated effectively and efficiently or succinctly the following:

1) Product or service description
2) Benefits of above, such as how, or in what ways, it will help people
3) Provide adequate proof of your assertions, such as a showcase

It helps to do ALL of this on the homepage.

When you you do this effectively, some people will pay you money, AND tell their friends.

If you go to the homepage of top forum software companies, you will see that they do ALL of 1-3, right on the homepage. Not real complicated.

(Frankly, phpBB does not do this.)

I have an MBA in marketing, along with 25 years years of sales and marketing experience.

Thanks to phpBB for all their good work.


FM

Re: How to 'sell' PHPBB!!!

Posted: Sat Sep 12, 2009 12:56 pm
by Roberdin
Yet bizarrely, phpBB is one of the most popular forum packages on the web.

Re: How to 'sell' PHPBB!!!

Posted: Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:17 pm
by EXreaction
ForwardMover wrote:If you go to the homepage of top forum software companies, you will see that they do ALL of 1-3, right on the homepage. Not real complicated.

(Frankly, phpBB does not do this.)

I have an MBA in marketing, along with 25 years years of sales and marketing experience.

Thanks to phpBB for all their good work.


FM
Agreed, and it is something we have been working on lately. But, unfortunately we don't really have anyone in marketing on the teams, so the progress is a bit slower as we all try to discuss what would work the best and keep on re-doing things.

Re: How to 'sell' PHPBB!!!

Posted: Sat Sep 12, 2009 3:33 pm
by Crise
EXreaction wrote:Agreed, and it is something we have been working on lately. But, unfortunately we don't really have anyone in marketing on the teams, so the progress is a bit slower as we all try to discuss what would work the best and keep on re-doing things.
Well there are some small things you can do even without professional insight. For example the site uses wording like "most widely used" (phpbb.com index) or "Millions of people use..." (About) sure this is nice but one thing that could be done is add some cold hard stats there alongside those claims.

You already have download statistics as is, and with the questionnaire coming in 3.0.6 it is possible for you to get rough estimate amount of new installations as well as to some extent existing installations. Also the 359 844 community members that actually took the time to register on phpbb.com also tell something same goes for the amount of activity in these forums. Not to mention the amount of mods and styles listed on phpbb.com.

I am not saying that statistics should be highlighted all over the place (because overusing them might actually have negative impact) but stick the most impressive ones in correct places and that would be a start.

Because right now the only thing that really highlights the quality of phpbb is the SF award. The rest is just something you (as in the phpbb group) have said and to find the basis for what is written there the user actually has to make a round-trip.

Re: How to 'sell' PHPBB!!!

Posted: Sat Sep 12, 2009 3:48 pm
by Marshalrusty
We could even search through our logs for unique IP hits to the current-version-file hosted on this site. The question I would have is: why?

While I completely agree that we could do with a makeover in some places (with marketing in mind), the statistics of how many people are using/downloading phpBB don't come to mind. After all, "you should use phpBB because this many other people are doing it" does not sound like a marketing strategy I would want to use.

If you have marketing experience and are willing to volunteer your time to help us, that would be absolutely terrific. Please contact me via any of the means listed in my profile (or just send a PM).

Re: How to 'sell' PHPBB!!!

Posted: Sat Sep 12, 2009 4:10 pm
by Crise
Marshalrusty wrote:We could even search through our logs for unique IP hits to the current-version-file hosted on this site. The question I would have is: why?

While I completely agree that we could do with a makeover in some places (with marketing in mind), the statistics of how many people are using/downloading phpBB don't come to mind. After all, "you should use phpBB because this many other people are doing it" does not sound like a marketing strategy I would want to use.
Putting too much weight on the existing popularity is bad that I agree on wholeheartedly but as long as you have statements about it on the website (especially one that claims to be at the top of some category like: "the most widely used Open Source forum solution") there is the need to back that up somehow.

If I think about phpbb.com index and what I would change on it... the basic thing would be make phpBB itself be more visible.

Right now you tell people in the index what phpBB is (a free open source bulletin board software) but not what the user gets ie. what are the product highlights and stuff like that. What makes phpBB the bulletin board software out there so to speak.

Edit: sure you have things like easy to use admin interface and installation as well as standards compliance and customization possibilities mentioned but you do not elaborate on those nor really tell anything about what is so good about phpBB from user point of view (assuming that the admin choosing phpBB also cares for his users).

Also something like "easy to use" is something many software claim to be... so it is something that really needs more than a mention to have some real value.