We often imagine people arriving at the community homepage, finding the registration option, and becoming a member.
This is the front door route. We design most of our efforts to optimise for this journey.
But in the majority of public communities, people search for a topic in Google, find a discussion within the community, and then will register to ask a question if they don’t find the answer they want.
This is the back door route.
Looking at the data from the four client projects right now, around 75% of visitors who join a public community do it via the back door. The mismatch should be obvious.
If you put clearer calls to action to join alongside discussion, prompt people to register, show related content and discussions alongside existing discussions, more people join and participate.
It’s a relatively easy win, but few people do it.