Focus On The One Big Problem

Recently we’ve been looking at how we best store and display useful information in communities.

Most make the same mistake. They try to store all the good ideas instead of solving the problems that affect most members most often. This becomes an overwhelming problem with overwhelming amounts of information generated. Not good. No-one can find what they want there.

A better way is to begin really small. Focus on the single most common question(s). 80% of discussions are about the same few topics (tip: this is usually the equipment used for the activity).

Work to solve that one problem first.

  • Beginner level: Create a single page on the topic. Write a brief introduction, determine the key categories (what to get, where to get it, how to use it etc…) and then create links to the discussions posts of the most useful advice. Any time someone shares something new, add the link under the relevant category. Add a community ‘topic’ page in the navigation bar of the community.
  • Professional level: Same as above, but summarise the knowledge shared in each post on the page with a link back to the relevant post. Caravanistan does this well. If travellers recently report the Kyrgyzstan border is closed on Tuesdays, that’s now mentioned on the page with the post linked to for more information. Use the new posts to refine information and keep it updated.
  • Expert level: Once a page is established, recruit those that shared advice to keep it updated with the most relevant information. Make sure it doesn’t fall victim to bloat. If people are looking for equipment, they don’t want the product histories, just the comparison, prices, reviews, and recommendations. Now move on to the next page.

When you try to store every useful idea, you end up feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and unsuccessful. When you focus on helping definitively answer the best questions, you can easily spot useful tips that fall into this field.

Aside, a few months ago my colleague Todd shared a private Google Doc used by a small, group of community professionals to make platform decisions. It lists the platforms, the core features, the prices, and self-reported experiences of each. Anytime anyone gets a new price or has a new experience, they can add to the document.

That’s a simple, effective, and powerful way to create a useful resource.

Comments

  1. Marsha Graham says:

    Great advice here Richard!

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