Be proactive now or you’ll hate yourself later

by Martin Reed on 10 October 2007 in Articles

Be proactive to ensure your community is successful

As a developer of an online community, it is essential that you are always proactive and thinking about the future. If you don’t watch the competition and think about whether your members will be happy tomorrow, you are only inviting stagnation, decline and the ultimate death of your community.

Always plan for the future

It doesn’t matter how well your community is doing at the present moment in time – things change. As well as having contingency plans in case anything goes wrong, you should always be researching new features and additions to your site.

Peoples’ tastes change. Older members may start to get bored with your site if nothing has changed for years. New members may see your community as stale and outdated if you are not changing with the times and adopting new technology and new features.

Be proactive not reactive

Being proactive isn’t just about planning for the future – it is about getting things done before they become a problem. Don’t assume your site has no broken links just because you haven’t found any – be proactive and check for yourself. Don’t assume your scripts are working fine because you haven’t received any complaints – test them thoroughly and continuously. A script that is working fine today may not be in a week or so; that’s part of the joy of running a website – things that are fine today may suddenly fail tomorrow!

So you have a nice new design you are about to unveil but haven’t got around to ironing out the last few bugs? Well I guess it doesn’t matter as people aren’t shouting out for a better site design and navigation, eh? Don’t be lazy – be proactive: finish and release that new design now. If you put it off until tomorrow, you will do the same again tomorrow and before you know it your new design is outdated before it has even launched.

Are you starting to see an increase in spam memberships in your forum? Well, they haven’t made any posts yet so why not leave it for now, eh? Don’t be a fool! If you see spam accounts, you should be deleting them immediately. By the time they start to bombard your site with spam, it may be too late for you to keep the spammers in check. You need to be proactive, not reactive – get things done before they become a big issue.

Don’t forget to act on your plans and get things done!

Of course, knowing you need to do something and actually doing it are two completely different things! You could have the best plans in the world, the best intentions, the best revolutionary new idea to hit the Web, but if you don’t actually get off your arse and do it, it’s meaningless.

Plan for the future, be proactive and GET THINGS DONE!

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Amish Handcrafted Furniture October 11, 2007 at 2:09 pm

Yes, being proactive is the answer. Unfortunately, priorities keep changing and some how just keeping things going appears to be an uphill task. Shaking out of that kind of lethargy is difficult.

Peter October 11, 2007 at 4:57 pm

I like this word ‘proactive’. But its not easy to live it. Often we are too busy doing stuff in order to take a moment and check it thats what we are doing is making sense. Its like following a crowed in the hope you get where you want to go instead of standing still for a moment and watch where one is heading towards.

Siddha October 12, 2007 at 12:16 am

I agree, keeping pro-active is definitely the way to go. I can’t find a better way to live.

Smiley October 12, 2007 at 5:46 am

I agree. I’ve slacked off a tad this past couple of weeks and there’s several things on the site that are left unfinished :(

I keep saying “I’ll do it tomorrow..” but tomorrow never comes.

I do think it’s easier for me to keep proactive, than someone say like you though, Martin. Because when you’re successful, I can imagine sometimes you just don’t feel like messing around.

When you’re new, however, your members give you a good kick up the bum and you have to do it or you risk losing them.

So for new sites I think this article is particularly a good one to take in.

I was up for days and nights without sleep modding the new boards and customizing them, so I think once the boards were done I kinda let myself slip and have a rest, now I’m finding it hard getting motivated to finish the rest of the site.

So I think it’s also important to pace yourself, and have a set schedule.

narnia3 October 12, 2007 at 5:41 pm

Being proactive is key, but most people do not have the discipline or the passion. I was just listening to an audio book and part of it was on goal setting. When it comes to the future, you have to look at where you want to go and break it down into yearly, monthly, weekly and daily goals to get there. Then follow it up…proactively.

Martin Reed - Blog Author October 12, 2007 at 11:54 pm

Amish – I agree. What keeps us walking up that huge hill though? Knowing that we will soon get to the top, that’s what! (What is your real name, by the way?)

Peter – I love your analogy about following a crowd/watching a crowd. It can be difficult to make time to be proactive, but I feel it is vital if you are to succeed in the long term.

Siddha – I like your comment; is being proactive your life strategy? If so, good luck to you!

Smiley – You’re right; it is extremely easy to slack off once you have attained a degree of success. This is exactly why many long standing websites go into decline – their owner puts them on the back burner, and lets them go stale.

To be sure, Just Chat rarely goes through any revolutionary changes these days (there would be bedlam amongst our regular members were that to happen), but I am constantly tweaking and improving the site as well as looking for new features.

I still have a lot of exciting plans for the site, it’s just a case of rolling them out slowly so I don’t cause a revolution amongst the existing members!

narnia3 – I would agree that having passion really does help when it comes to completing the task at hand. I am passionate about online communities, and that helps me keep this blog running (I make nothing from it) and keeps me motivated when it comes to the continued development of Just Chat and Soap Forum.

Amish Handcrafted Furniture October 15, 2007 at 7:48 am

The real name is Ramana Rajgopaul. Fondly called by friends as Rummy for a fondness for rum years ago, before I switched to Single Malts, which also alas, given up since near nine years!

technogeek October 15, 2007 at 9:24 pm

I get really annoyed at people who talk, talk, talk and do nothing about it. Reminds me of the People’s Front of Judea from life of Brian, anyone?

Smiley October 16, 2007 at 2:29 am

Ha ha ha ha, yes, the JC members can be a fussy lot, huh??

The only thing I’m missing is a profiles script. Can’t fork out hundreds of pounds for one at the moment. It’s annoying simply having them fill out a contact form and me uploading them all manually.

But I really need to learn to pace myself, because I tend to do loads of things at once, then I’m tired for weeks.

I may start writing down a schedule, and stick to it. “Monday: do this..” with a tick box sort of thing.

The site is far from finished. Everytime I think I’m finished, I look through the site again, and see more room for improvement. It’s a never-ending cycle!

Hirsutism October 18, 2007 at 8:49 am

Proactive is the way to go. One has to be proactive and leave the lethargy behind if he wants to be to the top in the race.

Martin Reed - Blog Author October 18, 2007 at 4:04 pm

Ramana – Thanks; it is much better to communicate when you know someone’s name. It sounds like you need to start getting into a new type of drink and get yourself a new nickname!

technogeek – You’re right; talk is nothing without actions. The most successful people are in that position because they actually thought and then acted on those thoughts!

Smiley – It’s always a good idea to automate as much of the site as you can. The only parts of Just Chat that aren’t automated is the approval of new epals accounts (which I do manually to prevent spammers), and the reservation of chat names (but I charge for this service).

Having a schedule is a great idea, and knowing that your site is never ‘finished’ is the right way to look at website development.

Online furniture store October 26, 2007 at 7:33 am

That post of yours was a real pick-me-up. Woke up today feeling kind of bleary and lack-lustre, but this gave me a nudge in the right direction and thanks and thanks to all you good proactive people up here as well:]

Martin Reed - Blog Author October 26, 2007 at 5:49 pm

Online furniture store – I am glad to hear this article gave you the boost you needed to get yourself working! Often the hardest part is just getting started!

What’s your name by the way?

Online furniture store October 27, 2007 at 10:05 am

Hi Martin, my name is Reena Daruwalla. I am not very long into blogging, am really enjoying being part of this online global community. The fact of geographical and other boundries simply dissappearing just thrills me and gives me such an incredible insight into other cultures, customs, ways of life, current affairs, even current lingo.

Martin Reed - Blog Author October 29, 2007 at 9:44 pm

Reena – I completely agree with you, the borderless characteristic of the Internet is fantastic and helps open our minds to other cultures and languages. This can only ever be a good thing.