A new community: Preparing for launch

by Martin Reed on 6 August 2008 in Articles

Online community launch

This is the ninth article in what I hope will be an indefinite series about the processes involved in developing a new online community from scratch. I am currently developing a brand new online community and will detail its development on this blog. As I have said before, I think it is far easier to learn by example rather than simply reading another person’s theories and ideas.

Final testing

With any reasonably large project, you will need to undertake a good amount of testing. My new online community includes a database of articles with an integrated forum. Basic functionality immediately after coding was fine, however there were a number of small tweaks that needed to be done after the initial coding – mainly relating to the layout and small changes to title sizes, colours, etc.

I am pleased to say that thanks to having a fantastic ExpressionEngine coder, all modifications were done with enthusiasm, professionalism and skill. I cannot stress how important it is that you work with people that hold these qualities – as I wrote about before, choosing a coder for an online community is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

I didn’t spend much time looking for someone to code the design of this blog, and certainly paid the price for it as the development time dragged on and on as they claimed to ‘not be getting my emails’ or claiming they had already sent me the required files. Furthermore, their coded version of my design didn’t include a number of the design elements. You have been warned!

Optimisation

Before launching the community, it is important that I optimise the site to make it search engine friendly. Regular readers will know that I always say people are more important than the search engines, however thinking about the search engines when dealing with your site’s code is always a good idea. The sooner your site is optimised for the search engines, the better. Therefore I am working to ensure all article pages have relevant page titles and include relevant keywords and meta tags. Images also have their own alt tags. By doing this, I am ensuring that the site is picked up speedily and effectively by the search engines as soon as it launches.

Content generation

As I mentioned before, it is a good idea to create content before you launch and this is what I am currently working on. I am adding articles so that as soon as the site launches, it has a good amount of content for both human visitors and the search engines. I will also be ensuring there is content in the forums – remember, people will not want to join a forum that has no members or content.

By adding content, I also get to test out the site – the more I use it, the more likely I am to catch any issues with the site prior to launch.

Promotion plan

By now I am coming up with a number of strategies for promoting my new online community. During the site’s development, I had a holding page up with information about the site and also invited people to register their email address. As a result, I now have 133 email addresses of people interested in the site. Therefore as soon as I launch, I can fire off an email to these users, inviting them to check out the site.

I will also leverage the traffic I get on my existing sites by emailing those who have given me their permission to do so, promoting the new community and sharing information about it. I will also add links to the new community on my existing websites.

Finally, I will check out blogs related to my community’s niche and contact the blog authors and introduce myself and my new website to them. I will make each email personal, and will ask them for their thoughts and feedback on my new site. By actively engaging blog authors, and asking them for their feedback I am developing a relationship with them. This benefits me as I can network with more people involved in my community’s niche, obtain suggestions and constructive criticism, and hopefully get my site mentioned on some popular and influential blogs.

So when is the launch?

I am hoping to launch the site by Monday at the latest – stay tuned as I will be announcing the launch right here and am looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

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{ 21 comments }

Smiley August 6, 2008 at 11:12 pm

Good luck with the launch, Martin — I’m sure it’ll go down as well as you hope, if not better!

Nicole Price August 7, 2008 at 4:25 am

We really appreciate you sharing the progression of your to-be-launched online community. Let me join Smiley in wishing you all the best for that.

DaveMurr August 7, 2008 at 4:29 am

Thank you for sharing you insight and the steps you took prior to launching. Good luck with the launch!

Amish August 7, 2008 at 5:58 am

The process is interesting and you have generated a lot of curiosity about the final product too! I for one am likely to join up once you announce the details, if the subject matter is of interest to me.

Eric Wan August 7, 2008 at 6:14 am

Awesome post. I am currently building a community site for job seekers as well. Would like to exchange ideaas.

Bat August 7, 2008 at 12:30 pm

Martin is this that new community for women you were talking about a few months ago? I remember you asked the women on JC to tell you what they thought of various logo designs. I have been wondering about this and when it was going to launch. Should be exciting!

Neon August 7, 2008 at 1:23 pm

Sounds interesting… what is the theme of your new community?

Michelle August 7, 2008 at 7:24 pm

Awesome! You sure have built up a lot of excitement with this series of articles. Way to market a site before even launching it. ;) I look forward to taking a peek and seeing what this was all about.

Michelle

Mr Woc August 8, 2008 at 2:50 pm

Hi there

Good luck with the site, I will check it out when you launch !

Woc

eeCoder August 8, 2008 at 4:26 pm

Hey Martin,

Thanks again for the recognition. I’m looking forward to seeing the new site live. I’m certain that your dedication to the project will pay off. Job well done!

-Shawn

jennifer August 11, 2008 at 7:40 pm

It’s Monday and I’m stopping by to look for an update. Can’t wait to see all of your hard work go live. Good luck!

Bat August 11, 2008 at 7:48 pm

Yes me too Jennifer!! I,ve been checking back on and off all day. I,m really hoping it,s that community for women you talked about Martin, I,ve been looking forward to that.

Joyce August 11, 2008 at 8:03 pm

Yeah same with me. I can’t wait.

Joey Martini August 13, 2008 at 1:11 pm

Lots of good information there, I hope your new forum is really great. But you have to be very patient with it, and have to drive as much traffic as possible. You never know when a new member signs up, also you should think about paid posting. I know it’s against the laws of nature, but it really does spice up the forum.

sred August 13, 2008 at 7:10 pm

Good luck with the launch! I personally launched a online community gaming site with a few friends and went through a lot of the same trials and tribulation so I wish you the best of luck!

Ojuicer August 16, 2008 at 4:52 pm

I have to post my no vote against any sort of financial reward for posting.
You will get a far greater number of vacuous posts than normal. And yet this idea is pretty popular these days.

Michelle August 24, 2008 at 3:54 am

So which Monday would that be? ;)

Michelle

Eva White August 28, 2008 at 8:15 am

All the best with the launch. I am sure given the amount of hard work and research that you have put in, it is bound to be a success.

Jon August 29, 2008 at 8:43 pm

I’m interested to see the site once it launches as well, and I wish I would’ve followed some of your advice on launching a new community (my site had almost no content at launch).

Bat September 1, 2008 at 6:42 pm

Martin is the new site any nearer it,s launch yet? I,m dying to see it!!

Daryl Wilkes November 18, 2009 at 9:33 am

Martin,

fantastic article, full of all the hints & tips I have been looking for to start managing my new community!

thanks!!

Daryl