Online communities consist of members who share opinions, news, and media. They serve as the basis of social networking sites and are an essential element of virtually every type of web page, whether it’s a video hosting site, an ecommerce website, a photography portfolio, a news outlet, or a business website. User feedback and communication generates increased traffic, so it’s important as you build your own website to lay the groundwork for a successful online community. Below, you’ll find ten tips designed to help you accomplish the task.
1. Keep the Design Simple
User-friendliness is a key component of successful online communities. Some of the most successful sites out there are also the most simplistic in their design, placing functionality at the forefront of their business model. The idea is that the easier it is for visitors to get involved, the more activity there will be. So be wary of distracting web page background images, conflicting fonts, or a blinding web page background color and make sure joining the community is as painless as possible.
2. Thread or Nest Responses
Long lists of posts can get confusing. The story gets lost as conversations branch off from one another and, at a certain point, it becomes difficult to tell who’s talking to who. The solution for this is easy: by threading or nesting your response boxes, community members will be able to respond directly to the post they’re referencing. The site’s readability factor will soar and thus generate a more positive user response.
3. Privacy Controls
In order to encourage the most frequent and exciting interactions, you’ll need to allow users to select what information they’d like to publish about themselves and what they’d like to keep private. Similarly, allow them to choose how they communicate. Sometimes, the response they’d like to post is something intended for the entire community while, at other times, it’s better suited for a select group of members.
4. Maintain the Focus
Focus can be maintained in two different ways. First, it’s achieved through effective moderation of community activity. This means putting a monitor or manager in charge of filtering out spam posts and inappropriate remarks. Don’t be afraid to assume control and set the tone for your website. In another respect, be clear when you build your own website about the type of content that awaits visitors when they come to your homepage. A clear theme acts as motivation for like-minded members to join together in a community. As this grows, you will be able to create forum varieties that expand your site’s focus slowly and naturally.
5. Determine the End Point
Another vital part of keeping your website design clean and your focus in check is to choose a length of time for discussions to remain open. Whether it’s 72 hours, a week, or a month, select an option that allows the topic to be fully fleshed out, but not beaten to death. This will encourage activity as users move onto the next debate.
6. Make the Community Feel Special
By allowing members special privileges and opportunities to get involved, you form a deeper bond with them. Become acquainted with and remember frequent users, ask for feedback, and encourage ways that community members can share links with their own media and personal websites.
Keep in touch with your community. Members like to have their voices heard, whether the response they evoke is validating or contradictory. Don’t be afraid to respond to posts directed towards the website itself. Establishing yourself not only as the site’s representative, but also a member of its community, will keep visitors interested – and on their toes.
8. Don’t Be a Pest
At the same time, you don’t want to bombard visitors with an inundation of information. This will only annoy them and put them off from the site. Allow them to select whether or not to receive community emails and updates, or to subscribe to a Twitter or RSS feed.
9. Keep Improving
Positive evolution, for any website, is key. It contributes to making your visitors feel that their needs are being taken care of and builds upon the activity to create new opportunities and forums. Try your best to continue adding new, sleep features and options, whether it’s a fresh way to share media or an updated design. Changes should always improve functionality and the overall experience, not just be an empty additional frill. Take advantage of all web page design options that allow you to build a free website with impressive capabilities.
10. Market Yourself
Visitors come and go and your community is always shifting. In order to ensure that departing members are replaced by new ones, you’ll need to continue marketing yourself. Get to know your demographic and use web analytics to determine who is your target audience. This will help you make important adjustments as you grow, improve, and continue to build your own website.