Design your community for where it will be within the next few months, not now.
One client recently sent us incredibly vast and detailed plans to review.
These plans dictated the entire social structure for a vast 10k+ community. These plans are designed to filter that sort of activity.
But to get there, you first need to get your first 100 participating members.
A community designed for your first 100 members is very different from a community designed for 1000 members.
Take CommunityGeek below. We have news, we have forums, and a resources area. That's about it. That's all we need and want at this stage.
If the site reaches the 500+ (active) members , we'll start change the structure of the forums to handle and guide activity to specific categories. That will probably mean listing the top 5 most popular discussions on the left and then a list of unique categories/groups below.
If you're designing a community for your first 100 members, you can also create a structure where every member, upon joining, is guided (either by technology or by yourself) to connect with someone in a similar situation/location/space to them.
Don't jump too far ahead on the platform design. Your site will go through several evolutions. Design the community to solve the challenge it faces now.
On October 29th to 30th, the world's top 250 community professionals are going to SPRINT in San Francisco. Will you be one of them?