Designing an online community spec can be difficult, there are some elements I think should be included in nearly every online community. These are:
- It’s own domain name.
- An application form to join the community.
- Facebook Connect/OpenID linked profiles.
- Latest activity from members on the front-page.
- A news page for content about the community (Should be the landing page.)
- A forum for members to communicate.
- Game mechanics embedded deep within activity.
- Sections named after people and/or community jargon.
- These value-added pages.
- These 8 overlooked elements too.
- The ability for members to create their own sub-groups.
- Commenting enabled for stories that appear on the news page.
- The option to Tweet/Facebook-share any comment/story with friends/followers in two clicks.
- Use Facebook plugins to show which of your friends are already members of the community.
- The ability for visitors to read all community content (which isn’t private), but have to log in to participate.
- Deactivation of accounts which are inactive for 6 months.
- The option for the admin to give increasing levels of access to community members to moderate comments, write content etc…
- Every new member is prompted to answer a question which appears on a forum thread – hence prompting further responses and converting the newcomer into an instant regular.
- Members receive notifications when someone comments on their profile or responds to their forum thread (and these can be turned off).
- A Twitter sidebar which shows tweets by members in the community and allows members to respond (with an automatic hashtag) that shows up on the side of the bar. It’s like a mini chat-room, but promotes you and encourages off-website activity.
What other elements would you include?
Be sure to watch this great presentation by Joshua Porter.