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How to Customize the Skeleton Directory of my reseller hosting account?

As a reseller of web hosting, you need to take every opportunity to inject your brand into the hosting experience. We already looked at how to customize your cPanel with your own images and unique styling via CSS. But another equally important point of contact is the default page whenever you create a new account under your cPanel reseller hosting plan. The first impression of a client when they are just getting started on a new account is critical and it sets the tone for future interactions. By default, the new account will open up into an empty directory leading to a 403 “Forbidden” error and perhaps a 404 “Not Found” message. Instead of leaving it to your client to figure out what’s wrong and making them wade through documentation and searching for error messages online, why not place your own custom page on all new accounts welcoming users into the fold?

You can also use this opportunity to provide your visitors with valuable information regarding how to get started, tutorials, and documentation. It doesn’t have to be just a single page either. You can configure an entire application and even tailor it to specific hosting requirements. For example, if you specialize in WordPress hosting, you can use something known as the “Skeleton Directory” to create a completely fresh WordPress installation and have it automatically transferred over to every new account immediately so that when your client visits his or her domain for the first time, they’re presented with the WordPress setup procedure.

Creating a customized skeleton directory for new users is incredibly easy. Let’s go over the basic process.

Locating your Skeleton Directory

Once you log into WHM, either locate the “Account Information” tab on the left-hand side or click the “Account Functions” box on the home screen as soon as you enter.

When you click this, it will tell you in bold letters where your Skeleton Directory is located as shown below.

In my test example, the default location is the subdirectory cpanel3-skel. A short description under the title explains the purpose of the Skeleton Directory and what you can do with it.

For this basic example, I’ve created a simple HTML file explaining that this is what is shown when a new user’s account is created. Since we have the location, it’s easy to directly FTP to the sub directory in question and upload the default index.html that we want to show our users. Keep in mind that the Skeleton Directory is usually located at the very root of your hosting folder and therefore you need an FTP account with the requisite permissions.

In my test example, the default location is the subdirectory cpanel3-skel. A short description under the title explains the purpose of the Skeleton Directory and what you can do with it.

For this basic example, I’ve created a simple HTML file explaining that this is what is shown when a new user’s account is created. Since we have the location, it’s easy to directly FTP to the sub directory in question and upload the default index.html that we want to show our users. Keep in mind that the Skeleton Directory is usually located at the very root of your hosting folder and therefore you need an FTP account with the requisite permissions.

As you can see in the screenshot below, I’ve navigated to the “public_html” folder within my default skeleton directory and placed the new index.html file within it. Now to test it, all I need to do is create a new account in WHM, navigate to the home URL and see what pops up.

Creation and Testing

Within the WHM welcome screen, I navigate to the “Create a New Account” section. Here I plug-in the details of a throwaway domain reserved for testing purposes, create a token username and password, and instruct WHM to complete the process. Once the server has finished all the steps, you should see something like the following on the right-hand side of the WHM split screen:

Now simply open a new browser tab and head over to the root URL for which we created a new cPanel account.
You can see below that our index.html file has been copied over and is served to the new user automatically without us having to do anything.

This is of course a simple example but as mentioned above, it lays the foundation for a completely customized offering tailored to the client’s needs. Using the Skeleton Directory, you can further brand your reseller products and present a unique experience to your users to set yourself apart from all the other providers out there.

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