This is the sixth article in what I hope will be an indefinite series about the processes involved in developing a brand new 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.
My new community: Current status
It’s been a couple of months since my last update so I thought I would firstly fill you in with what I have been doing.
The logo was completed in January, and the design process for the website itself began in February. It has been quite a lengthy process, mainly due to the fact I regularly strive for perfection. When my designer emails across concepts, I can always spot minor errors such as an image being out of position by a pixel or two. Similarly, I will not accept a design until I think it is perfect.
Fortunately, I found a patient and professional designer – after providing a full brief they worked up an absolutely cracking design, based on my core needs:
1) An attractive, original design
2) A design that is intuitive and easy to use
3) A design with a strong community focus and call to action
It is no good designing a community website and then hiding away the community aspect. It sounds obvious, but I find many websites have their forums hidden away and the developer wonders why there is hardly any activity. It was imperative that my homepage made the visitor immediately understand that although the site publishes its own content by way of articles, there is still a strong community focus.
Initially, I was only going to have the designer draw up the homepage, then I would modify the design for the content pages myself. However, the quality of their work led me to commission them again for the additional pages. These are almost complete, then I will be onto the task of coding the website.
Understand your site’s concept before thinking about coding
First, let me make it clear that I am terrible at coding. Basic HTML with tables, I can do – anything else then I am lost. Therefore, I consider myself to be unskilled when it comes to coding websites. Before I find a coder, I need to understand how I want my new community to work – sure, I can give a coder the PSDs of the site design, but I still need to be sure exactly how I want the site to function in a live environment.
Next week I explain the process I went through to choose the software that my new online community would run on. I looked at a blog/forum integration as well as a number of Content Management System (CMS) solutions.
Are you finding these articles useful? Am I missing out on details that you would like to know more about? Share your opinions by leaving a comment below.