You know how I hate reviewing forum sites, you know, because most people keep trying to do the same thing Nairaland is doing?
Well, not to give too much away before the actual review, this forum is one I don’t completely hate.
It’s not that this site is perfection (if that’s a thing), but let’s just say Schoolng is doing some things right.
I hate your URL (www.schoolng.ml … Oga, why?). I feel you should have gone with something easier to remember, but your site is not the worst forum I’ve seen.
In case you’re still waiting for more senrenre, that’s all I have for this review… maybe read my next site review for more.
The Schoolng Site Review
Okay, you went with the classic Nairaland-style forum design (which I hate) but your forum is focused on a different niche.
You identified a target audience comprised of university applicants and undergraduates and then built a forum around that.
That’s awesome. I love it.
Plus you improved a bit on the Nairaland-style so I nor fit vex too much.
Let’s get technical:
I’m a big fan of the white background that forms the main content sections of your home page. They make the content visible.
You should change the grey background that covers the rest of the page though. I don’t know how possible it would be, but I think creating a background made up of pictures of students or something like that would be a lot more interesting than this bland grey background.
Just my thoughts though. Let’s move on:
(i) I see your Site Title… and I am well pleased.
Your visitor shouldn’t have to be wondering what site he is on. You make it clear early enough that he has arrived at the right place. That’s great.
(ii) Your tagline turns me off a little bit.
I know.. It’s great that you have a tagline… BUT it’s almost the same as what we see everywhere on the internet.
Let me explain. There’s a saying that goes like this:
“A rich man doesn’t have to tell you he’s rich.”
In your own case, telling us you’re the “No. 1 Nigerian School Forum” implies you’re not the No. 1 . Plus saying you’re No. 1 in anything these days is a cliche.
Switch it for something more consumer’s benefit-oriented like ” Don’t Miss out on the Latest Happenings, Deals, and Opportunities in Nigerian Schools” or ” Where Nigerian undergraduates and applicants meet”
I don’t have the full idea of your goal for this site, so I’m just paraphrasing, but I think you get what I mean.
(iii) Your primary navigation menu…
… Is perfect.
I won’t change a damn thing. You have the “Home” element, Categories, Contact Us page, and even a search field.
There’s nothing else anyone can ask for.
(iv) I love the “Sign In” section
You placed this section at the right place. After telling us what your site is about, you don’t waste time in showing us where we can join the forum or log in.
It’s good… but it can be better.
You could add in an actual call to action that gives us an idea of what our benefit for joining would be. You’re going to get more signups that way. Maybe even bring it up as a pop-up after someone spends 20 seconds on your home page.
For example, you could offer a free guide to admissions into various universities, detailing the process, requirements, where “leg” is required… that sorta thing and I’m sure people would join your site just to get that.
(v) Your “Select A Task” drop down menu doesn’t serve a unique purpose.
First of all, users are not fans of the drop down menu feature.
I personally get a bit pissed when I have to click one menu just to see other options which I then have to click to get where I want to go.
You should be trying to make it easy for your visitors to get where they want to go. This entails reducing the number of clicks between the home page and that page on your site.
You need to remove this section completely.
Also, I noticed you already have the same elements of your “Select A Task” drop down menu in the main content section of your home page.
And it makes more sense there (since it shows us all the elements without the need for “dropping down” or any other senrenre).
(vi) The “INFO: Ask a Question and Get Answer” section
There is no point to have this here.
Sure, it links to a page that provides info for students interested in taking Jamb this year. But putting it here is not the best use of space here.
What I mean is putting it here just seems like you’re trying to break up the ads you have in this “above the fold” section… which is unnecessary.
You’re better off making this an element of the primary navigation menu. You could just shorten it to “Ask A Question” and that’ll be much much better.
So remove it too.
(vi) Main Content Section
You killed it in this section. I love your layout here. It’s brilliant.
It gives us straightforward, 1-click away links to whatever topics catch our eyes. That’s definitely a plus.
You placed the ads in such a way that they don’t disrupt user experience of your site. That’s awesome.
I’m not going to go into detail here, because most of the content in forums are created by the members. What I will say is I love how you jump on trends and provide info to your target audience.
Then there’s also your great headlines:
I’m not an undergraduate or applicant but if I were, I’d be following your forum. That’s how good the topics are.
Now, let’s talk Golden Nuggets…
Golden Nuggets/ Your Free Consultation/ Step it Up A Notch…
You seem to be getting a lot of engagement on your site…. I mean, 136 members. That’s great.
Too many people focus on just getting traffic but don’t actually give the visitors a reason to stay on their site. You’re doing that which is why you’re getting a lot of engagement.
For example, that brilliantly titled ” Join our Aspirant Brainstorming Thread” section is a great way to show your visitors where they need to go.
And that “2017 Jamb Query Room”.. That’s also a great thread.
But how about we step it up a notch. The main areas you seem to be facing are promotion and scaling up.
(i) I think you need to dive into SEO more.
Use Google’s Keyword Planner to find out topics your target audience are interested in and build threads around them. The great thing about a forum is you can get more engagement, than a normal site, because forums are inherently all about engagement and asking and answering questions.
With a bit of keyword research, you could tap into untapped topic ideas and use that to come up with threads that would attract a lot of eyeballs to your site.
Check this post to find out how to use keyword research to create threads that would drive traffic to your site.
(ii) Promote more on social media
I looked at your home page and couldn’t find a social media profile link. Why is that?
Whatever reason you may have, set them aside. Social media drives so much traffic that it’s almost foolhardy to not take advantage of it.
I would suggest you create a Facebook group and use Facebook Ads to promote recent threads on your forum and target your audience by their interests, and ages. You’ll build a following quickly.
(iii) Adsense is good… but it’s not the only way to make money from your forum.
Most of your ads are the types of things that your audience would be interested in so thumbs up on that.
With the niche you’re in right now, there’s a huge amount of potential customers out there. I think you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t use that to your advantage.
See this post for ideas on how to make money from your site.
There you go. My 2 kobos on your site.
Any questions? Leave them in the comment section.
P.S. If you want me to work with you on this, you can contact me here.
And with that, this review is over.
Now, to those of you reading who would like me to review their site, post it here. The queue is long, but I’ll get to your site soon. But if you’d like to “skip the queue” and get me to review your site today, contact me here.
Author: Tomi Joshua
Tomi is a case.
A bit brash, at first blush. But ultimately, he means well. There are very few things he won’t say or do in the presence of tolerant company (especially when it could make for a good story later).
Tomi is a Doctor, writer, certified inbound marketer (Shout Out to HubSpot), Digital Hustler, and online business addict.
He is most likely to be found dancing to the beat of his own drum, even in accapella.