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What Is Community Design And How Can It Help Your Business?

Community design is an approach that is applied in all those contexts in which you want to create value from relationships. Community design does not design community but designs the context within which people move, interact, get information, and so on.

Mar 20, 2022149 Shares2.4K ViewsWritten By: Alastair MartinReviewed By: James Smith
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  1. Setup
  2. Theme And Branding
  3. New User Experience (NUX)
  4. Channels And Categories
  5. Asking For Feedback
  6. Final Words

With your community design, it's not about which features you add or remove, but how those features work together to make your community membershappy.Your job is to make the experience better, not the form itself.Sometimes, the experience is as much about the people who are in the community as it is about the channels or the tools.A community of anime fans on 4chan will always be more profane than a community of anime fans on reddit, because of the people who go to both places and what they talk about.

It's not a good idea to try to follow a template that worked for someone else.This isn't just a technology problem. It's a people and technology problem, too.

People often just tell you what they need.They will give you the perspective you need to make something that feels like it was always yours.

What I've Learned about Community Design


This is what you should picture.This is how you might think about your community. You are planning to have a house party.There are a lot of different rooms in your house, and your channels are like each one.Imagine that you see a bidet in the middle of your living room. This is how it would look.A lot of people don't like it, and it looks and sounds weird.You have to figure out the best way to put different channels into the right category.

You can be creative and still have a sense of familiarity and ease.Thrill people with your skills but don't overwhelm them.When people in a community say they like surprises and new things, they mean that they want to see something they already know well in a new way.

Theme And Branding

There are no two communities that are the same (at least, they should not be).Is a great community design one that shows off the unique traits that make your community unique?Take your time and look into the community.It should be the main thing in your sign.

Remember when we talked about the bidet in the middle of the living room? It was there.Well, how about a huge octopus in the middle of a computer hardware store? This is a good idea.

That's what the people who shop at Fry's Electronics did.The reason it didn't feel weird was because that's what their brand stands for.

A Fry's Electronics store would be weird to walk into and not see wacky and fun things in every corner.

It's important to make your channels unique and add your brand whenever possible.

They say that true brands are known when you don't need to see a logo to know them.

When you go into an Apple store, even if there are no iPhones or logos, you can still tell that it is a sleek, black-and-white store.

Being able to change the brandingof your community and having colors that match your website or product brandingis a good thing to make sure.

One of the downsides of using Facebook Groups, Discord, Slack, and other community-building tools like these is that you can't make your community look like you want it to look.

New User Experience (NUX)

Imagine walking into a hotel and the first thing you see is a room that has been used. There are ruffled sheets on the bed and bottles of wine on the ground.

It's also hard for people who aren't familiar with the site to figure out what to do when they first join.

In order for your members to slowly get used to new changes and surprises, you need to set the scene.

Warm welcome and a concierge are what you want.

You want someone to help you get into your seat.

People in our community set up a "Newbie Zone" to do the same thing.

Remember that a lot of people are going to give you feedback and suggestions when you start.You don't have the time to use everything, so be smart about what you use.You will be guided by a mix of your intuition and what other people say.

Channels And Categories

You should pick three or four high-level categories, and then set up channels under each of them.If you are a finance community and have subtopics like "Trading," "Crypto," and "Investing," then by all means, make these high level categories.Try to make at least one synchronous channel under them. You should also try to make at least one asynchronous channel there.

It looks like this:It has a global introductions channel, three categories, and a lot of channels in each one of them.Notice how each category has the same types of channels (and even the same names) in it.This makes it easier to be friends.People think they know the whole structure of your community because they can figure out what the next category is going to be.

Asking For Feedback

As you build your community, be sure to get feedback from people often.A community is not built in a single day. It's always a work in progress.

To build your community, you don't have to do it alone. You have a say in what your members care about.The communities that have always done well have been the ones that are close to their members, even to the point of being driven by them.People who are member-obsessed care deeply about their problems and what drives them. They don't just care about how they interact with your community.

Members may not be able to say what they want when they meet with you, so pay attention.But if you just watch people talk, you can see patterns that happen over and over again.

As your community grows and changes, the way you design your community experience will also change and evolve.When the best communities are done, they can take years.

Final Words

People's needs aren't at the heart of community design, but they are at the heart of the design as members of a group (community) who agree on a value proposition.Community design no longer looks at how an organization interacts with a customer, employee, supplier, or citizen, but how the group interacts with each other and with the group as a whole.Ecosystemic conversation instead of one-way communication is also a big part of community design. This is because the organization that wants to grow a community doesn't just provide services anymore, but instead talks to and interacts with a group of people.

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