What do I need before signing up?

A few questions, thank you in advance.

(1) Before I sign up for discourse hosting, do I need to have a forum already for migration?

(2) I have a great idea of the setup of a discourse so that being said, I am guessing that I need to have the categories already written and ready to go for the hosting party to download or implement?

(3) I noticed some of the discourse forums have really cool background pictures like “Gems of War” & some have a black background, that I really like. If I want to add picture background, what dimension should I get it in?

Note: I am starting from scratch.

Thanks again, Gina

You could start with a 14 day free trial:


No, you don’t need that. You enter them once you log in as an admin.

BTW: it is better to start off with just a few categories anyway and add nee ones based on how the community evolves.


Hey @gina_riley

I’ll second @tophee’s suggestion – the best way to get things organised is to sign up for a trial and have a play around.

Specific answers to your questions:

  1. No. If you are starting from scratch there will nothing to migrate. You’ll start with a fresh Discourse instance and build your community from the ground up. You can ask questions and get support for that here in our community category.

  2. No. Once you have your trial set up, you can organise your categories yourself. It is always better to start small and grow as you need to. Have the bare minimum of categories (support/general/one or two subject related categories) and add to that as you see what the requirements are.

  3. Those are themes. You can change your theme here – check out the hamburger menu


That said, there are lots of ways of customising Discourse. I’d suggest getting your trial up and running and then we can help you with next steps.


I believe that hamburger theme thing is custom here on meta as a demo, so it is better to change user theme in your user preferences in the usual place which will work in all cases.


Ah yes – what he said. ^^

Thanks for the catch.

The “Gems of War” wallpaper is excellent. I’m assuming the “Gems of War” guys customized their code and did not use discourse administration settings.

I have launched discourse for the community of Montgomery, Alabama and the Chamber of Commerce will announce launch. The unused Medium platform has the image for the discourse platform: Montgomery Medium platform

Any suggestions before I begin to inspect “Gems of War” css?

Hey Josh,
This is a good starting point if you want to create complicated themes: Developer’s guide to Discourse Themes


Very informative @HAWK.
Thanks for the post.

I’ll probably hire a freelancer due to time constraints. Does the Discourse team have in house experts who provide custom theme services?
I want the city’s discourse forum to really attract the end user’s attention with local images.

Hey Josh, not inhouse, no. We can recommend @joebuhlig from Procourse though. He is excellent.

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