You have your community – it may be brand new, it may be well established. Whatever stage your community is at in its development, you should always experiment and try new things.
The importance of experimenting
If you don’t experiment with new things, your site and community will suffer. By trying new things, you may improve your site massively.
Similarly you may try something that turns out not to work – this is not a failure though; it is merely something that you have now learnt doesn’t work for your site.
If you fail to experiment your site runs the risk of turning stale. You don’t need to come out with the latest and greatest innovation; simple navigational changes, content updates or new ad placements can work wonders and result in you forgetting any experiments that didn’t go to plan.
No matter how great you think your site’s design is, there is always something that can be changed to improve it.
You can use software such as Google Analytics to find ways of improving your site. Experiment with design changes and evaluate the results just as I did back in April to improve navigation over at Just Chat.
Look hard at your site’s design and listen to your users. Don’t sit back wondering if that change you have in mind will work – try it out and see!
Have you ever tried taking your actual content in a new direction? Perhaps your community is used to your online personality. Have you considered mixing it up a little from time to time?
Try writing in a different style, consider adding content more regularly. Keep trying new things, and see how they work out!
We all love to make money. How many of us simply throw up Google AdSense without any thought or research into alternatives? How many of us actually experiment with various ad placements and element sizes?
I would argue that only a minority actually bother to experiment in this way – and they are potentially missing out on a lot of revenue.
Trial and error
Trial and error is the best policy when it comes to developing a successful online community. I hate to use the word ‘failure’ when it comes to trying something new that doesn’t work – how can something be a failure when you have learnt what isn’t effective in your community?
In my opinion, you really have nothing to lose by experimenting. Try out new things – you have far more to lose by sitting back and wondering ‘what if’…