How top brands build effective online communities: Part 2


My first post in the series focused on conceptual and design fundamentals when planning to build an online community. These came from my experience with brands like, Brine and the E.I.F. This post ranks design priorities and outlines the role of the landing page.

Ultimately, the success of an online community turns on whether a brand performs not just several but all of these fundamentals well. If done piecemeal, a client gets inconsistent results further compounding their distrust and fear of online media. The good news is that they are simple and an effective signpost for how to get it right.


Once you have the right approach and design fundamentals, you must order them correctly if you hope to generate the community behavior you want.

1. AS ALWAYS, KEEP IT SIMPLE: The site should be visually led, using simple, conversational language, with 2 click away navigation.

2. CLEAR SET-UP: The function, goal and rewards for effort must be clearly explained on the site.

3. SIMPLE INTERFACE: Members must be able to suggest and create their own ways to participate towards achieving a specified goal.

4. COMMUNITY DIALOGUE: It must be simple for members to easily share stories and interests plus hear updates and mile makers towards the goal.

5. SIMPLE INSTRUCTIONS & TOOLS: For how members can participate.

6. COMMUNITY CONTENT: The community should be encouraged to create their own content to be shared within the community.


The landing page features a menu of activities for members to explore. Each member is led through a simple process:

1. CLEAR STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: Members are able to read about the project in simple, conversational language.

2. CHOOSE HOW TO PARTICIPATE: Members are given a menu of actions and engagements to choose from.

3. SUGGEST A WAY TO PARTICIPATE: Community members suggest new actions or activities. Community members vote up or down the ideas that will eventually migrate to the “CHOOSE HOW TO PARTICIPATE” list.

4. UPDATES/EVENT LIST: A place to keep momentum alive. Document what is currently happening in both the online and offline worlds.

5. JOIN OUR COMMUNITY: A place to register and get additional information.

Assuming you’ve approached building an online community the right way, with the appropriate design considerations and priorities, then next thing to consider is how to engage your community and maintain their active participation. That’s the subject of the next post and one of the greatest challenges for even well-established communities – attrition over time.

While not exhaustive, the list above is an effective start. Is there anything else you would add?<!– ckey=”2430CC09″ –>

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