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Welcome headers - Improve community registration rates
by Ted S
19 Dec 2007 00:51

4 Attachment(s)
Exciting Announcement! vBulletin 3.7.0 now includes a built in Welcome Headers System (named "Notices") that easily allows you to add and control your own welcome messages with functionality above what can be found in the traditional welcome headers system. There are some important differences in these systems so please read this thread before upgrading.


Important: If you are upgrading from the 3.6 or earlier versions and have modified the navbar template you will either need to revert it or add new vBulletin code as shown in http://www.vbulletin.org/forum/showp...&postcount=152.

Out of the box, your forum isn't personalized to assist or address your visitors. As a result, guests entering on a page other than the homepage (which is most often the case) have no idea what to do or why to register. Additionally, there are no visible status indicators, making it confusing for unconfirmed, unapproved or new members to know what to do or where to begin. But with a little customization, the use of the vBulletin Notices System and Welcome Headers, you can solve these issues in just a few minutes.

What is Welcome Headers?

Welcome Headers is a set of predefined messages and rules designed to help you get started in personalizing your site's notices using the vBulletin notice feature. The default templates are just that, default I highly encourage you to modify and add to the language and rules to meet the needs of your actual community environment.

Modifications/ Instructions:

Plugins: 1 (notices entries, rules and phrases)
This template hack should take under 5 minutes to implement and customize.

Installation/ Upgrade Instructions

1 Backup any existing welcome header messages (upgrading)
2 Remove the default welcome header from your forum home template (new installs)
3 Install the attached plugin file
4 Now Required: Customize the messages to include your site's name

For detailed instructions on each step please view the install.html file included with this addon.


Please post any enhancement or technical questions you may have and I will do my best to respond in a timely manner. Please note: I can not guarantee an immediate response and am unable to assist with integrating this addon with other addons or with HTML related questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please see the second post in the thread for a list of frequently asked questions which is updated periodically.

Older Version Support

While most users are choosing to upgrade to the notices system, there are some advantages to the "old" system mainly in that it does not rely on a rules system and can be configured as designed with code changes. Additionally, the "old" version has automatic interfacing with several other addons which the notices system does not. For this reason, the old version is still supported and remains fully compatible with 3.7.


- 5/9/2008 :: A small upgrade has been released fixing the typo in the sendmessage.php file

Ted S 19 Dec 2007 00:51

The History of Welcome Headers

Welcome Headers started out as a method of displaying messages to visitors based on their status. After more than 3 years and thousands of installations, vBulletin has added a native feature that allows for the creation and customization of welcome messages out of the box. As a result, Welcome Headers has migrated from a system of displaying messages to a set of default, suggestion messages that are intended to be used to help get forums started on personalizing their experiences.

Even with the new Notices system, the purpose of Welcome Headers remains the same – to help forum owners with limited experience in personalization and marketing to improve their forum’s experience. The messages and the system are only meant as a stepping stone – what you do with them is entirely up to you.

Details on how it all works:

As an enterprise forum consultant, I developed Welcome Headers for a handful of select sites in order to encourage more registrations and repeat visits. From there they grew to help address the needs of returning visitors and users who were having difficult registering, not sure where to post and so forth. Eventually based on continued requests the system was developed for public use and launched as an addon/hack over 3 years ago.

Step One: Turning lurkers into Members
For most forums, upwards of 50% of traffic comes through search engines or deep links to threads, profiles and categories. Out of the box, vBulletin only displays a welcome message on the forum-homepage, meaning someone who enters through any other page does not have the benefit of seeing an explanation of the site or welcome message. The guest welcome header is used to explain the purpose of your site, sell users on the benefits of joining the community and push them to proactively register.

Step Two: Making Users Confirm their Account
Many vBulletin sites require email confirmation prior to being able to post or access an account. However, activation emails are often misdirected to spam folders, ignored or simply deleted, leaving unconfirmed users with little access rights and no explanation as to what is wrong with their account. The unconfirmed welcome header is used to inform unconfirmed members of their account status and to direct them to automatically resend their activation email, or to contact the webmaster for support.

Step Three: Get non-posting users to post
Another chronic problem faced by many forums is insuring users post after registering. Many new visitors register in order to access certain features with the intent of posting, but never do so. The never posted welcome header is used to encourage users to post for their first time and should ideally be linked directly to an introductions or new member forum to help users "break the ice".

Step Four: Getting inactive users to become more active
Many members start out as lurkers, register, post once or twice and then go back to being lurkers. Often time these members are not actively thinking about participating in topics or are still shy about interacting. The inactivity welcome header reminds members to make a post after a predetermined amount of time as specified by the forum administrator.

Step Five: General Announcements
Unfortunately the standard announcements are often overlooked or never even seen by members who use the "new posts feature". As a result, urgent notices may be missed by users causing problems and high volumes of support requests. The global announcement welcome header creates a message shown to all members who do not fall into the other welcome header groups (guest, unconfirmed, never posted, inactive). Whether it be a scheduled outage/ upgrade, an important request or the need to display an advertisement in a prominent spot, global announcements allow an administrator to effectively and quickly display messages in a way that is certain to be read.

Optional: One-View Messages
Some forums find that users grow tired of seeing the messages thus there is an option to show the welcome messages only once per browser session as determined by using a cookie.

Optional: Custom Messages
Welcome Headers addresses 5 common needs, your forum probably has more. I highly encourage you to add messages based on profile fields, user states and other criteria that may impact your users.

The results:
At first glance this system may seem a bit superfluous, however, the numbers rarely lie, nor does the feedback. On ScubaBoard.Com, the site the system was originally tested on, posting rates increased by over 100%; new user registration rates by over 60%; user activity by 50% and the welcome/ intro & greets forum has exploded over 400%. If you browse through the pages of this thread you will find even more real life testimonials and experiences from the thousands of people using the system.

vbSEO Add-ons
Some forums have found that after adding welcome headers, the welcome message shows up in their search descriptions. To address this issue, user's at vbSEO have recommended turning the guest welcome header into an image -- this way there's no duplicate content for the bots to spider. To learn more click here. My recommendation is that you test this option if you are allowing bots to spider your front-end pages.

Limited Guest Viewing compatibility
If you are concerned about messages overlapping, use welcome headers version 3.6.

Ted S 19 Dec 2007 00:52

Frequently Asked Questions

Will the old welcome headers system work on 3.7.0?

Yes. You can continue to use the existing welcome headers system with no changes required.

Will my I see my existing customized messages if I upgrade to the new version?

No. Since the addon now makes use of the Notices feature, any old customizations you may have made will no longer appear. You can however copy and paste all of your custom messages into the new notices system.

How can I customize my welcome messages / notices?

Messages can be customized (including changing the rulesets and orders) by visiting the “Notices” tab in your ACP. Each messages is labeled clearly to make it easy to identify.

Now that there is a notices system, why should I use the welcome headers addon?

With the launch of the Notices system, Welcome Headers may seem to be obsolete and in fact, the code that has been used on thousands of forums for over 3 years is no longer being offered in the latest system. Instead Welcome Headers has migrated from a coding addon to a set of default messages and business rules intended to help you customize your system. If you already have your own rules and messages there may not be a reason for you to use welcome headers but for sites use to the welcome headers systems, it’s still a simple and easy way to get started.

Are there any limitations to the Notices system that would make me want to use the old welcome headers instead?

There are a few reasons to use the old welcome headers although they are possible to address with some logic and/or code.

First and perhaps most importantly, the Notices system only allows one condition per rule set. What does this mean? You can’t exclude a message from both Guests and Unregistered Members. The solution to this is often to just rethink your ruleset using something like “Has Posted” (guests can’t post) but occasionally you may find the conditions limiting.

Second, each of your messages will appear inside the same template file. With some customization and conditionals this can be tweaked around but out of the box, your messages will follow the same general outline making them consistent. This means if you are using an image for your guest message, you would need to take extra steps to make your other messages display properly. The solution to this is to remove all HTML from the notices template and customize the layout directly through the notice body; this way you can have entirely different styles for different messages.

Last off, the Notices system has a limited number of predefiend variables (which makes sense as it's intended for your direct use, not a third party message). As such, any messages added by welcome headers or any other addon must be customized to insure the proper site title appears. This is not a limit so much as a nuisance. So remember to customize your messages to include your forum's name!

Derek Chai 19 Dec 2007 01:07


Bounce 19 Dec 2007 01:39


The Welcome Header System is designed to be flexible and highly customizable to meet the specific needs of your forum. To customize which messages show up and what they say, go to your vBulletin Admin Control Panel, click on the "Notices" and select any of the 4 messages displayed.

When I goto the notices its not showing any messages at all ???:erm:

FleaBag 19 Dec 2007 01:39

I was wondering where this would go! Just installed 3.7 and was dreading filling in the blanks. Thanks for doing the hard work for me. :)

Ted S 19 Dec 2007 01:43


Originally Posted by hIBEES (Post 1404079)
When I goto the notices its not showing any messages at all ???:erm:

Very strange. Can you double check that version 5.0.1 is showing up in your product manager?

If so, run the query:

SELECT * FROM notice; If nothing appears, uninstall and reinsall.

Ted S 19 Dec 2007 01:44


Originally Posted by FleaBag (Post 1404080)
I was wondering where this would go! Just installed 3.7 and was dreading filling in the blanks. Thanks for doing the hard work for me. :)

No problem! I'll be releasing a set of additional messages sometime in the coming weeks (defaulted as off) to give sites more ideas/ options to play with.

Bounce 19 Dec 2007 01:48


Originally Posted by Ted S (Post 1404084)
Very strange. Can you double check that version 5.0.1 is showing up in your product manager?

aye it is...

Welcome Headers 5.0.1 Boost registration and activity rates with more visible guest welcome and member status messages.


Originally Posted by Ted S (Post 1404084)
If so, run the query:

SELECT * FROM notice; If nothing appears, uninstall and reinsall.

Done that,still not showing..:(

You are meaning the "Notices" menu in admincp left hand side?

EDIT: the unistall and reinstall sorted it.

Many thanks MOTM :D

ShawneyJ 19 Dec 2007 07:10

good job thx.

Snake 19 Dec 2007 12:08

Sweet Jesus! The 3.7 ported version has just been released. :D Well, thanks for putting a hard work into this hack, Ted. It really means a lot to me and I've always been a fan of this hack from a long time ago.

apiasto 19 Dec 2007 16:12

great work reserved thnx

Ted S 19 Dec 2007 16:15


Originally Posted by Snake (Post 1404426)
Sweet Jesus! The 3.7 ported version has just been released. :D Well, thanks for putting a hard work into this hack, Ted. It really means a lot to me and I've always been a fan of this hack from a long time ago.

Thanks for the positive response... I'm just stoaked to see the addition of notices into the default vbulletin system... It's one more step towards an out of the box market-ready solution.

Ted S 19 Dec 2007 16:16


Originally Posted by hIBEES (Post 1404089)
EDIT: the unistall and reinstall sorted it.

Glad to hear it. The mod has to create a few database records to work, if any of those fail, no notices. Hopefully this was just a fluke but if anyone has a similar issue, please be sure to report it.

bigsbydapicka 20 Dec 2007 00:23

same here...had to remove and reinstall on 3.7 to get it to fly.

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