List of Best Mods, Tweaks & Basic Guide to SMF Customization

Now I see  a lot of discussion board springing up most of them built on various [bulletin broad] cms  platform mostly smf, php and vbulletin. I have personally seen most of   this forum  left to their default look which I personally understand to be the choice of this board owners.

Now the intent of the article is to give you a walk through to minor Simple Machines Forum Customization Using Mod, custom javascript , custom php and css. I strongly believe that this article will be a guide to many newbies, wanna-have and experts users of the simple machine forum system.

basic smf customization and most important modification (mods)

What is a Modification (Mods)?

Mods seems to be the most used single word in smf official support site. First time I stumbled upon the platform I can’t help but started making a research on what this mod was all about, 2hrs was all I needed to figure out that I needed  mods in my forum too.

In simple terms smf modifications (mods) can be vividly defined as  some set of php, xhtm, javascript and css codes well packaged for use on simple machines powered websites. Smf modification is made in such an easy way to allow users remove or add new ones without knowing a single line of html code, each mod you installed will either add or a remove a code (function)  from the general smf framework built.

Where can One  get or Download SMF Mods?

Wikipedia have got a very comprehensive documentation on smf mods  which you can easily browse through for some more advance features of the system.

The only officially recognized directory for downloading smf modification is the smf customization directory which is fully loaded with plugins and themes from well learned developers.

Downloading smf modifications and themes  from any other site other than smf modification site is normally not a very brilliant thing to do except you are fully aware of what you are actually doing.

Is there any effect or load on my server when many smf mod is installed?

This is certainly a question asked by users whose forum is running on a shared / small vps hosting server.

I personally made extensive researches in my early days of using the smf  platform about server load, server memory and Server C.P.U Power that will be consumed by an smf site of about 500 members, funny enough a reputable foreign hosting company recommended dedicated server for me, as a broke student I could only think of wow and moved ahead to host my forum on the smallest shared hosting plan from a local web hosting company here.

This may surprise you, My forum never had an issue on a [ 2gb hdd 20gb bandwidth] shared hosting plan  even when I clinked above 1,600 members before switching to a foreign host.

Now this is i did to utilize my limited server resources this much, I applied the 24 tips listed here I also did some personal optimization like hosting my attachment to photobucket using the available mod.

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Now to answer the question of server load while using smf mods I will like to say that it solely depends on the type of mod being installed, unlike wordpress plugins smf only have little number of heavy mods in their custom site and can be removed once you notice abnormalities in your server performance. The biggest culprit here is the “Related Post mod” and few others.

Recommended SMF Modifications

While listing the basic mods a simple machine forum (smf) site should have, I will be taking your server performance as priority since I personally love and prefers fast loading forum to beautiful and heavy looking ones.

Very brilliant mod for all your forum search engine optimization (seo) needs , can be used to track incoming search terms, write decent robot.txt instruction, set forum meta description keywords and title, used in placed of “header and footer mod” for adding up your google analytics and website counters etc.

Helps you to put a strong hook in the asses of those broke spammers who aren’t interested in your forum at all but are there to drop shameless links all over the forum. It also helps you to control the level of contribution a member should make in the forum before allowing  link juice to his site [ mine is 25 lol] or blog.

  • Smf Mobile Forum Modification : I will be naming two best widely used in this regard 1. Smf4mobile [$20]  2. bXk WapMod [free]

With any of this two modification you wouldn’t be asking for more for your forum mobile users, Ipad, Opera Mini, Sky fire, Uc Web browser, safari, Iphone, Android, Blackberry, Nokia and all mobile devices and mobile browsers is covered since they offer both ajax and jquery support and can be further customized to suit your taste .

This mod will add an unlimited number of custom actions, configurable in Features and Options. There are 3 types, HTML, BBC, and PHP. They can be easily be accessed by going to name. Each action has an unlimited number of sub-actions, which can be accessed by going to name;sa=sub-action name.

Adds avatar to members who aren’t interested in putting up their avatar to the forum yet, cool huh ? It also gives you the option to upload separate avatar for female or female .

This modification will allow you to put a custom image in your forums such as :
Custom Image for New posts
Custom Image for No New posts
Custom Image for Redirection Boards

If like me you are tired of seeing child board in your forum this is the mod to use to set what ever name of your choice for your forum child board

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Great for creating seo friendly sitemap for your simple machines forum.

Gives you freedom of expression when it comes to coding the front-page and widget area of your simple machines forum, also has the shoutbox [chat system] integrated with it.

Add more features to your topic settings for mobile users of the forum, also helps to increase your forum rss feed from 5 [the default] to any number of your choice

Add awesomeness to the presentation of your forum url by removing the ugly looking “index” from the title of your forum. It also recommend by seo experts

can help reduce bounce rate on your forum by showing items related to what current topic a user is viewing

Can encourage guest registration on your forum mostly if it’s a tech related one since guest can not view links posted on the forum

Helps you to add a single advert in the message body of your simple machine forum which behaves as if it’s wrapped with the message body.

If your forum is strictly entertainment and have no need distributing link-juice then this is the best mod for you as it will the Adds rel=”nofollow” tag to both types of url tags . You can also use it for forum that isn’t moderated so as to prevent users from getting you in google’s black book .

Helps your users remember topic address easily by simple entering a keyword relating to the topic, also rewrites your forum permalink structure to reflect the action or topic .

Pretty cool mod for integrating facebook features like registration, like, send, recommend and the likes, it also helps your users invite their facebook friends at the click of the mouse button . This is a mod worth having mostly for young forum that need easier registration steps for new users

Easily share topic and forum with users on several social networks and social bookmarking sites

  • Simpleads mod

Great for placing adverts [google adsense, chitika, bidvertiser, addynamo etc]  in different position of your simple machines forum. I love it because it doesn’t add any credit to my forum footer [my bad though]. Has many closeable ads position and placement.

Mods Optimization:

It is not a recommended practice installing every single mod that appears useful to you since most of this functions can actually be added without installing any modification, eg. no need installing infolink integration mod, share this  topic mod, google analytics mod, google translator mod, wibiya integration mod and many other mod that uses simple javascript on a forum that has optimus brave enabled.

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You can simply paste this javascript code in your optimus brave header position or counter position, simple portals html or php blocks can aslo be used for such features.

Another optimization tips for mods will be to identify those mods that is straining your server to have extra speed. Mods like share this topic and related post mod can be culprit at times.

Basic Guides to Smf Customization:

This is just to give you idea on how you can do elementary customization on your simple machines forum (smf) powered website, edits such as ;

  • Changing your Smf Logo / Favicon :

Pretty easy and can be carried out by any one at all;  simply  design a suitable logo using fireworks, photoshop or corel draw re-size to match up with your current [default] theme logo then create a favicon using or any tool of your choice log in to your cpanel for favicon just upload it your root folder or replace any favicon.ico in your theme image directory.

Customizing colors and look :

From your cpanel => file manager ==> go to themes ==> select your theme ==> go to css ==> download the index.css for backup ==> edit accordingly with your needed color codes ==>upload to replace the default ==>> preview for changes.

Tweaking smf for speed:

Now this is necessary if you need extra speed and security for your smf site  at little or no cost, Using cdn services like cloudflare can actually give you that extra speed you are craving for.

I will recommend it for forum that aren’t very much active as this will save you bandwidth and spam issues. You can also tweak your smf performance using the caching and server performance options that comes with it depending on what you really want.

Bonus Tips:

Where to get useful info and SMF support for free .


Concluding Lines:

From what we have done so far you have seen how easy it is working with the simple machines forum (smf) system, we didn’t get you a work through the installation procedure ‘cos it’s dead easy, you can even do that in seconds using Cpanel’s one-click installer or softaculous.

You can further discuss what ever challenge you might be facing in your smf site using the comment system below or better still outsource the design to us.

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Obasi Miracle
Obasi Miracle is one of the brains behind 3rd Planet Techies. A webdesign afficionado and IT Support brain-box, he flourishes and revel in helping many-a-techies in their aspiration to become the best they can.


  1. I am not familiar with smf … seems very interesting though

  2. I’m always amazed at the things people can create, just with coding.

  3. Dr. Steve Smiley Dr. Steve Smiley

    Very interesting post…I didn’t understand much of it, but I’m sure some of the tech gurus do.

  4. This stuff is way over my head! I’m so grateful I can use technology without understanding it!

  5. Great post again! I am learning a lot from you! I’m not very tech savy at all, so really enjoying your posts.

  6. Great Read! I didn’t now too much about SMF until now… thanks!

  7. Great post – the more I learn the more I realise I don’t know!

  8. This post look very thorough but now I’ve got a pain in my tech head

  9. I don’t know much about SMF stuff so this was good to read.

  10. Never heard of SMF before. Intersting

  11. clever… I don’t know much about the SMF stuff, but I’m sure someone who reads this will find it really valuable, thanks!


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