Designing online communities – via #sofresh

Gia Lyons, of Jive software, ran through 5 good practices in designing and engaging an online community site at Social Fresh in St Louis.  (I am just getting back to posting these draft entries)

  • Identify top 3 community characteristics
  • Express characteristics through four elements
  • Identify elements’ activity flow
  • Structure to promote characteristics and activity flow
  • See the structure with interaction and content

Activity flow can be split between the type of person visiting the site.  From Savvy to Newbie, you have alternate flows that give everyone an excellent experience with the same end result.  Creating your profile on a site is a great example.  Savvy open straight to edit.  Newbie gets a walkthrough with the reasons for each step.

What I took away from this session was a new perspective in how people engage with my multiple sites and how each brings it’s own unique way to be handled.  There is definitely not a magic formula and rule of engagement that can be implemented once and have it work at all.

Cultivation of the user community involves seeding and much personal care for it to flourish and survive.  If you can not validate the content versus the reader engagement, you cannot find the common threads that bring it together.

I am revisiting each of my sites the past coutple weeks since Social Fresh and evaluating where I need to make changes to spur more growth.  Design changes have begun.  Feature addition and removals and a structured content posting routine.

I plan on revisiting this topic with an update in how it helped.