How Small Design Decisions Have A Big Impact Upon Participation

We do a lot of work with Salesforce communities. It’s clear that the smallest design tweaks often have a big impact on participation.

If you spend much time browsing Salesforce communities for example, you might soon notice something odd. In many communities, a member will post the entire question in the subject line like this.

Now compare this to what a good question should look like:

Notice the difference? The subject line is clear, the context is included within the body of the email, the screenshot provides everything someone needs to provide an answer. It’s also cleaner and easier to read.

So, what’s happening in these situations? It’s more simple and important than you might think.

In the former community, when members click the ‘ask question’ button they are shown this screen:

Naturally, they click the category at the top and then assume they only have 255 characters to ask a question.

In the latter example, when members ask a question they’re invited to use this screen:

You can probably spot the critical difference here. By showing the ‘details’ option without having to click the word, members are naturally more likely to assume the context belongs here and the question actually means ‘subject line’.

It’s staggering how big of an impact this simple tweak can have. It can change the entire community experience from one with questions filled with long subject lines and not enough context to respond, to one filled with good-quality questions which top members enjoy replying to.

Note: Of course it would be a lot easier if Salesforce simply turned ‘question’ into ‘subject line’ and ‘details’ into ‘question’.

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