Communication

XenForo provides you with several ways to communicate with your users, ranging from on-page, attention-grabbing notices, to email tools for individual users.

Notices

Notices are messages broadcast to users on all pages, allowing you to alert your visitors to important information.

They take the form of a title and message, in which you can use HTML code. You may also personalize the message using {name} within the HTML, which will be replaced by the name of the user viewing the message.

You may display an image with each notice, either the viewing user's own avatar, or a custom image using the Display image tools, and you may specify the styling of each notice to suit the message using the Display styling tools. A range of styles are provided, or you can use your own custom CSS by entering a class name and then having that reference your own CSS rules.

In order to suit smaller screen sizes, you may hide the notice if the screen width falls below one of the options in the Visibility section.

Notices can be of Block type, Scrolling or Floating - these Notice type options control how and where the notice is displayed, and should be set according to how important the message might be.

  • Block notices are displayed at the top of the page, below the main navigation bar. They are shown until they are dismissed.
  • Scrolling notices are grouped together, and are shown in a cycle, with the first notice scrolling horizontally to make way for the second notice, which in turn scrolls away to show the third notice etc. Note that scrolling notices will only scroll away if there is more than a single scrolling notice visible.
  • Floating notices are shown floating over the content in the bottom right corner. They are significantly less intrusive than the larger block and scrolling types.

Your notices can be set as dismissable, which allows users to click a close gadget on each notice in order to hide it from view once they have read it. Users may review dismissed notices in their own account area.

For floating notices, you may have them automatically dismiss once they have faded out. This is useful for notices that need to be read just once, and are not of critical importance.

The display order of notices defines their position relative to other notices of the same type. Notices with higher display order values will display before notices with lower display order values.

Notice criteria

Notices may be conditionally displayed, based on a selection of criteria from the additional tabs in the notice editor.

For example, you could display a notice only to guest / unregistered users by selecting User is a guest under the User criteria section, or you could target users that have arrived from a search engine such as Google, who are likely to be first-time viewers, by selecting User arrived on this site from a search engine under the Page criteria options.

For more information about criteria, see the Criteria section of this manual.

Contact users

There are three methods by which users can be contacted directly: Alerts, Email and Messages.

Each of these methods employ criteria to determine precisely which users will be contacted.

Alert users

This method will generate an alert containing your message, and display it along with the target user's other notifications, which would include alerts for replies to their topics, messages posted on their profile page etc.

When creating the alert, you can specify a URL to which the receiving users will be redirected when they click on the alert, along with a message to be used for the alert body text.

The alert method is the least intrusive way to contact users, but it is also possible that a user with many unread alerts may miss the message you send.

Email users

The email method will generate an email and send it to all the users that match the criteria you specify. You may send a plain text email, or a full HTML email.

To create a consistent look for your email, you may optionally wrap it in the standard XenForo system email wrapper.

You may also include an unsubscribe link with your email, in case any of the receiving users do not wish to receive any further emails of this kind.

Finally, you may opt not to actually send an email, but rather just generate a list of email addresses that match the criteria you specify, in order to send a message using a different email system, outside of XenForo itself.

Message users

The final communication method is similar to the email method, but instead of sending email, it will insert a new conversation with each user targeted by the criteria, containing the message you enter.

To prevent your own inbox receiving a deluge of replies, you may lock the conversations as soon as they are sent, which will essentially turn them into read-only messages.

If you do not lock the conversation, you can optionally leave the conversation and ignore future replies, or leave the conversation and accept future replies, which will discourage users from replying to the conversation even though they are able to do so.

Help pages

While help pages do not permit you to contact users directly, they are a means by which you can impart useful information to your visitors.

A number of help pages are created when XenForo is installed, including guidelines and reference for Smilies, BB codes, Trophies, cookies and general Terms and rules.

Add-ons may add their own help pages to this list.

The Help page manager lists all available help pages, and allows you to add new pages, toggle the availability of existing pages and delete pages.

Help page editor

Clicking the title of a help page will open the Help page editor.

URL portion

A short string of text entered here will act as the link to this help page. For example, a URL portion of 'getting-started' will result in a link of /help/getting-started, and will load the page you create or edit using the help page editor.

Title and description

The title and description will be shown at the top of the help page, and in the help page manager.

Display order

The display order value dictates where in the help navigation the page will appear. Pages with higher display order values appear after those with lower display order values.

Page content

Use this box to enter the HTML for your page. Full XenForo template syntax may be used here, as the page effectively will be saved as a template.

If you want complete control over the styling of your help page, check the Advanced mode option, in order to omit the usual HTML block that surrounds help pages. If you use this option, you have complete responsibility for ensuring that your page is stylistically in-keeping with the rest of your site.

PHP callback

For advanced help pages, you may have PHP code generating variables for your help page template. This is very powerful, but not an easy option for non-developers.