Design matters

  • 17 August 2017
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Userlevel 4
The look and feel of your community matters, our data shows. We have seen it lead to higher amounts of posts, more traffic, as well as longer time spent on the community website. Learn all about the 3 benefits of design here.

What are your website elements that contribute to your community’s engagement? Let the community know!

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Userlevel 4
One of things that's most important to me when re-designing a community is making sure that the needs of all key user types are represented. The simplest way to look at those segments for me has typically been to take the spirit of the old 90:9:1 rule/principle. The 90% are generally coming to search and browse, the 9% are coming to register, log in and post a question or two and the 1% are heavy users that will be answering most of the questions. A lot of issues with community designs that I've seen stem from neglecting one or more of these user types. For example, a very flashy and beautiful homepage with lots of images and tiles may look terrific and may work for those casually browsing (the 90%), but if it doesn't include a fast and efficient way to navigate and find new posts across the entire community it could aggravate heavy users (the 1% - and you definitely don't want to ignore their needs). On the other hand, if you only cater to the needs of the 1% you'll likely end up with something that resembles a spreadsheet. :)

Over-emphasising one group over the other can be a big problem, but while the needs of these user types are very different, they aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. I've tended to try to look at what the key 'conversions' are for each user type at each level of the community. For the 90%, that might be to search or to browse a widget of related content, for the 9% it could be to register or to create a topic and for the 1% it could be to find topics with unread comments. By mapping those key conversions you can plan your hierarchy of page elements to make sure all user types are as well catered for as possible.

Another key insight that a wise man shared with me years ago, is to not fall into the trap of focusing too much on the journey from the homepage. Most visitors will land deep in the community on a topic page after a Google search (especially the 90%), so those pages require at least as much as attention when it comes to UX as the homepage.

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