Discord continues to grow rapidly in 2021 because more and more people are learning how many different purposes the platform can serve. What was once a platform for little more than gaming has expanded to become the home for professional groups, team projects, sports fans, and family chats.

Much of Discord’s popularity explosion is a result of how easy it is for anyone to create their very own server without any expert knowledge or prior experience. All you need is a Discord account, a list of people or groups to invite, and some knowhow about the setup process. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Use a Template or Start from Scratch
  2. Make Your Channels and Categories
  3. Complete Settings and Create Roles
  4. Add Your Graphics
  5. Invite Members

Step 1: Use a Template or Start from Scratch

When you’re logged into your Discord account, you’ll see a plus-sign button near the bottom of your server list on the left side of the window. When you select this, you’ll immediately get a pop-up window prompting you to choose whether you want to start with a template or start from scratch.

I recommend starting with one of Discord’s preset templates, unless you have a perfectly clear idea of exactly what your server will look like.

Step 2: Make Your Channels and Categories

This might seem like the main part of creating your Discord server, but it’s actually one of the easiest tasks you have. To create a new channel, press the plus button (+) next to the type of channel (text or voice) you want to create, enter a name for your channel, and choose whether you want it to be public or private – basically, if you want everyone to have access to the channel or only some members.

You can also organize your channels into several categories. If your server is for an artist collective, for instance, you may want categories for Sharing, Learning, Critique, and Just For Fun, to name a few. Your server will begin with categories for Text and Voice channels, but you can create additional categories by selecting the dropdown arrow next to your server name, clicking Create Category, and adding your information as you did for your channels.

For the time being, I recommend naming and categorizing your channels and adding a Channel Topic to each one. This is essentially a description of what the channel is for, how to use it, and what to expect from it. Beyond these basic steps, you’ll probably want to save specific permissions and server attributes for later, when you’ve set up overall Roles and permissions.

Step 3: Complete Settings and Create Roles

Now that you have a basic understanding of your server’s channels, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty details of how your server will operate. Click on the dropdown button to the right of your server’s name and choose Server Settings.

For your basic server setup, you only need to worry about a few different items here. I recommend starting with Overview, where you’ll only need to adjust one or two things. The most important thing in this tab is the System Messages section. If you want automatic messages to be sent when people join the server for the first time or boost the server, check the top two toggle and make sure the System Messages Channel is set to the correct option. If you expect your server to experience high growth, I recommend using a Welcome and Rules channel, where welcome messages won’t interfere with people’s chats.

Screenshots showing how to add and customize new roles in a Discord server.

Next, move on to the Roles tab. How do you want responsibilities and permissions to be divided among your server’s members? For each role you create, you can assign different permissions. You may not know enough about the eventual structure of your server to complete all your role permissions right now, but I recommend at least making a Moderator role with its own color and the ability to change member nicknames, timeout or ban other members, and make official posts or pins.

The last settings I recommend paying attention to are in the Moderation tab. Here, you can select the overall verification level for your server – to avoid unwanted raids and unwanted troll accounts, I recommend using Low or Medium verification at a minimum. Just below verification, you can also adjust your explicit media filter. It's up to you, but if you'll have a variety of people in your server and won't have constant, top-quality moderation or bots, I recommend setting this to the middle option, at least.

Step 4: Add Your Graphics

Once you’ve set up the very basics of your server settings, it’s time to give your new server some personality. One of the most important parts of your server’s identity is the server icon displayed in users’ server list on the left. I recommend using Kapwing to design, edit, and download your server icon, which should be a 512x512 square or circle. Head over to the Kapwing Studio in any browser and create your server icon by uploading images you’ve taken, using the Images tab to find pictures online, adding custom text and design elements, or searching through over 5 million stock photos using the Plugins tab.

A screenshot of the Kapwing Discord Serve Icon template.

To add your server icon, go back to the Overview tab in your Server Settings menu and click on the server icon placeholder near the top. Find the image you saved from Kapwing and it will be uploaded immediately to your Discord server.

Screenshots showing how to create a Discord Emoji in the Kapwing Studio.

The other graphics you can add to your server no matter what are its emojis. There’s no requirement for your server to have its own emojis, but I recommend adding just a few to give your server a sense of identity. These emojis should be 128x128 squares or circles, and can be either transparent PNGs or typical JPGs. I recommend using Kapwing to create these, too, since most images you’ll find are far too large to use, and most simple photo editors won’t give you the option to reduce your image size or erase its background to create a transparent PNG.

Follow this article on creating custom Discord emojis to design and download your own.

Step 5: Invite Members

Once your Discord server is ready to grow, it’s time to send out your invites. Select the dropdown arrow next to your server name and click Invite People. This will generate a new, unique invite link to send to people so they can join your server.

Screenshots showing how to send invites from a new Discord server.

If you boost your server to Level 1 (which you can do by upgrading your account to Nitro and spending both your server boosts on your new server), you can add a 960x540 banner image to your server invites for some extra flair. It takes a lot more boosts, but you can also add a wide banner image to your server once you reach Level 2, although this probably isn’t worth the cost when you’re just starting your server.

I hope this article helps you create and set up your own Discord server, whether you’re trying to produce art from around the world or connect with other fans of your favorite indie video game. For more tips on making and editing digital content in 2021, check out the Kapwing YouTube channel, or read through these related articles on Discord:

How to Make a Discord Rules Banner
How to Create a Discord Server Invite Background
How to Make Animated Emojis for Discord
How to Make an Invisible Profile Picture for Discord