Just finished an install and setup of SMF forum software and I have to complain: its file permission handling is horrible. SMF’s solution to make it easier (or more accurately: less impossible) to handle file permission changes and to install Mods (Packages) is to use a built in (php) FTP script to make file permission changes for you. I feel pretty uncomfortable with giving out administration credentials on software I just installed, maybe that’s just me.
I spent a good two hours trying to install reCaptcha for SMF and ended up failing. Why? File permissions for one. Without setting the entire SMF directory to full file permissions for everyone (777), I could not get an SMF Mod to install. Next, after getting the reCaptcha mod installed, I couldn’t enable it. The instructions on the Mod page at SMF is either far out of date or simply wrong (Admin => Registration => Settings doesn’t exist).
And to top it all off, the look and feel of SMF is not user friendly. It’s as if the only people to have contributed to the user interface design of SMF are programmers, rather than designers. For instance, finding the New Topic button requires effort and searching. Whomever created the style sheet for the default theme of SMF, spent all their time blending all page elements together rather than making important features stand out and capture attention. For forum software, used by all skill levels of computer users, user-friendly design should be the most important feature. If people cannot use the most basic functionality of the software, the rest of the features are completely wasted.
The golden rule of user-interface design: “Don’t make me think“. In order to use SMF Forum, you have to do some serious searching to perform even the most basic function: posting a new message.