You can spend a lot of time waiting for the platform to be just right. Everything has to look perfect right? ...or members wont participate?
An imperfect platform, a few dead links and improper load-testing wont cause your community efforts to fail. Few people leave a community because they don't like the design. The only thing which does deter members is a lack of activity.
Nobody spends a second of their time writing posts for a forum without any activity. Nobody invests anything into a community if they’re not going to get a reaction. The anticipation of the response is why people contribute to a community.
Stop worrying about having a perfect looking platform and start worrying about getting a high level of activity by the time you go live.
Don't wait for your community site to be ready. Start now. Begin stimulating that activity. Begin reaching out to people and building a list of interested members. Get to know them. Invite them to join e-mail groups. Ask for their feedback. Ask relevant questions to increase engagement.
By the time you launch your community, you should have a force of momentum to ensure your community succeeds.
The illusion you want to give isn’t of a slick-operation with a great web designer in the background. It’s of a manic, activity-packed, community bursting at the seams.