I had my heart set on IPB until I went to check out and it was going to cost almost $300 to get the IP.Board, IP.Nexus, and IP.Content. That's $300 without the extra renewal fees to get updates every 6 months. Basically, IPB looked like an endless money pit, so I turned to XenForo. I know XenForo is currently in a lawsuit, but I don't really care. I see them beating vBulletin and if they don't, I'll simply take my forum to another platform - no biggie.
Here's what I like about IP.Board and their official addons (IP.Nexus and IP.Content):
1. Flashy design - The first thing that caught my eye about IPB was that the design appears modern. Most vBulletin-powered forums look like they were made in 2005 and haven't been updated since. Even the forum I'm trying to base mine off of (AquariumAdvice.com) looks archaic and old. Plus, the old vBulletin software is hard to navigate with its complex menus and such.
2. The ability to bill members using IP.Nexus that will automatically add them to certain groups and display badges or custom messages under their username when they post. I'm pretty sure vBulletin also offers this.
3. Another thing about IP.Nexus - The ability to accept credit cards and other forms of payment with Authorize.net, PayPal, 2Checkout, etc. This is nice so I can accept donations, create a premium area, sell advertisements directly, etc. IP.Nexus also had advanced options for ad placement even with Google AdSense, which is probably what I'll start using at first.
4. IP.Content seems to be streamlined into the forum software as well as other addons like Nexus and Gallery.
5. I liked some other features, but generally, I want software that does what it's supposed to.
What I don't like about IP.Board:
1. The price is outrageous.
2. You can't transfer licenses, so if I were to get a used license from a place like Digital Point Forums, it would be sketchy and risky, so I'm stuck paying the full price if I want to be safe.
3. When people reply to a thread (or start their own), they have to opt-in to email updates with a special button. I feel that this button is very much overlooked and will affect the amount of repeat visitors I have. People are used to vBulletin's style - when you reply to a thread, you're automatically subscribed to receive emails when others reply. I personally like this and it's disappointing that IPB doesn't even allow you to turn it on without altering code.
What about XenForo?
I understand XenForo is in the middle of a big lawsuit right now, so things are delayed, but they really have no information on their sales page. I know they have the demo you can try out, but they don't really tell you the features it comes with. The price at $140 is VERY reasonable and I believe that's a one-time deal, correct?
As with CMS, I would probably use WordPress as I am already familiar with it. However, I'm still unsure if installing XenForo at forums.domain.com or domain.com/forums would be better for SEO if I used WordPress as a CMS for articles.
Does XenForo allow the features I like with IPB? What about the ones I dislike? The truth is - there's not a lot of info out there about XenForo, but it looks promising! I know the signup and getting to be able to post this thread was super easy, so it's already giving me a good impression.
P.S. One last thing - I've seen a lot of people talking about XenForo's code and how perfect it is. This is something else that's important to me because good code = less server load. If the code has PHP errors and stuff, it could cause timeouts and cause my server to crash.