A Minecraft server owner needs to think about a lot of aspects, ranging from how to manage staff to what perks players should have. But often even large Minecraft servers with over 200 concurrent players overlook very basic things that ruin gameplay for many of their users. These are some of the most commonly overlooked:
Chest menus are widely used on Minecraft servers, often for displaying friends or for interacting with in-game shops. There are two main aspects of these that are often overlooked. The first is related to the colour of the chest title. Commonly a bright colour is used such as blue or green, normally related to the server logo/colour scheme. On some texture packs this works well and the text is very readable, but a big issue here is that different texture packs change the background colour of chests. So while a chest menu with a yellow title might be visible on one texture pack, it's often completely unreadable on others - leading users to be unsure of what this chest menu actually is, as they can't read the title. The solution to this is to use the colour code &8, which represents the dark gray colour in Minecraft - this is the most readable based on a sample of 500 players.
MineChat is a widely used mobile app for talking to other players on Minecraft servers from your phone/tablet. The key difference between this and the normal client is that players using it can only see in-game chat, or rather do not see things like chest menus, mentioned in issue 1 above. So if you have an important command that only loads a chest menu, for example changing chat channel or changing an in-game setting, users on MineChat are unable to use this at all - so it has the potential to make apps like MineChat completely unusable on your server. The easy solution to this whilst maintaining chest menus is to also display feedback in chat any time a chest menu is used.
Screen size is a big factor that can break a number of in-game features on a Minecraft server. Many server owners assume that because of recent popularity in high resolution screens that their users will be playing at a resolution similar to their own monitors. This is true for many adults, but often the user base that plays on Minecraft servers is much younger - so does not have access to this newer technology; often playing on devices older than 5 years, perhaps at their school or in a public area. These types of devices often have screens at resolutions as low as 1366x768 on notebooks. This effects a range of things such as formatted chat & scoreboards, so all features should be tested at lower resolutions to ensure they function correctly. The number of times full-screen leaderboards don't fit on the screen for large servers is incredible!
Rules are an interesting area that server owners approach badly. The obvious approach to in-game rules is to just list all the things players shouldn't be able to do, and ban/mute them if they do one of these things. This is a bad approach as it requires staff members to enforce these rules, taking up valuable time. A better approach is to list these things as before, but to also configure plugins that prevent players breaking them. A common example is chat, where rules against swearing, advertising and spamming are frequently used - but no attempt is made to block these things efficiently using a chat filter plugin (PandoraChatFilter can be used for these scenarios). This extends to things like saying specific phrases in chat (for example Op me please, I'm from Planet Minecraft) to where players should not break blocks (WorldGuard can be used to protect areas of land), both things that can easily be blocked with a plugin and so allow staff to deal with only those that bypass these plugins.
Staff is an aspect of Minecraft servers that is handled very differently depending on the owner's preference. There are a few core aspects of managing staff that server owners should be aware of. The most important is that many players will want staff simply for the staus of having it, rather than any interest in helping the server deal with troublesome players - this has the effect that when given a staff rank a player of this type will either abuse their abilities or simply not do anything at all. Having a lengthy process for applying to staff, perhaps only allowing players to apply if they've have been active for the past 2 weeks, is an easy way to drive players of this type away. Keeping track of past bans/mutes is also important, as anyone with a past ban/mute is likely unsuitable to be a member of staff. Considering input from players will often highlight if a particular player is very suitable/unsuitable, perhaps through private messages to another staff member to allow a player to give their opinion without being harassed by other players.
Simo389 has been running Minecraft servers since 2012, and developing for them since 2013. Currently he runs MineRifts, a YouTube channel and shares advice in these tips on how to publicise & improve your own Minecraft server.