Improve Your Community Experience Using a DIY Community Health Check | Blog

Communities are living, breathing systems. They can either be growing, thriving, stale or dying, and this state of the community is defined by the community’s health. A healthy community is filled with growth.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://blog.discourse.org/2022/01/improve-community-diy-health-check
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This is more or less UX/UI question. Otherwise we are back to the main issue — how can we beat Facebook :wink:

Short answer is… we can’t, unless Facebook (I refuse call it Meta) does something really bad and masses will abandon it. And they don’t do that without plan B. It was actually expected that Facebook will come so damn big and forums shall be basically dead.

Most of forums are tech-based, for coders and/or for support, like this. There is only one reason why Meta here is in dominating situation: no Facebook-group, and Discourse is more or less targeted to higher tech skills. WordPress is a giant because it is so easy to setup and maintain (and even then it is too hard for too many). But: most of WordPress-sites don’t get any comments or discussion, even it is easy for users.

Most, or all, platforms aren’t user friendly. Those are tech/dev/corporate-friendly and that is totally different thing. Yes, matter of WYSIWYG’ish editor is huge, but not here where everyone is happy with markdown and html-tags.

But is even that so big question? Perhaps not. Facebook or Twitter offers no editing tools at all.

If a user can easily

  • sign on and in,
  • read topics with a mobile
  • answer to topics

Then tech-wise all that matter is done.

Spirit of a forum is important. Or is it? The biggest Facebook-groups aren’t known to be nice and friendly environment.

To do some UX/UI-testing is essential. Same with more… spiritual aspects, like how users handle basic matters, off-topic etc (here Discourse offers really powerful tools, moderation-wise anyway). But even then there is two major-class questions where tech or rules/policy of a forum doesn’t play that big role:

  • how to get random users to forum
  • how to get same users returning to forum

And there is two answers:

  • sharing links (Google is what Google is)
  • creating meaningful content when users are passive or there is just few

There is third thing: if you have an active FB-group, stop creating and publishing content there and share only links to forum. And if you are another just-admin that just approve new members and kick out bad apples… you’ve lost the game.

Rule number one (again): users are not after technical experience; 90 % of users are after answers and 9 % are looking for an arena where to tell theirs opinion (twitter-like monoloque) and the last 1 % is after discussion.

So, testing like that should do, but more humanly way and trying to understand how a random user feels and acts, and why he/she does something AND why he/she doesn’t. What a webmaster/dev/tech wants or does means absolut nothing.

I’ve worked a lot at UX/UI-testing and -planning and it is way too easy sink in tech-solution when should understand why people act as they act. Sorry, if I’m not pollite enough :wink: but technically UX/UI-testing is not a job that random Discourse-webmaster should do. It is a job of Discourse-team (sure, choosing a working theme and understanding pointlessness of sidebars are webmaster’s job). But creating content and offering safe (at some sane level) environment is webmaster’s area and that MUST test every now and then.

Community experience is really hard term because it is so wide. Too wide I would say.

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Interesting reply, the needs and wants of a user are truly the determining factors one should use in defining and improving the user’s community experience. Using that would create a more complex set of steps for a non-design-minded community manager to follow. So I tried to make this article more concise as we were hoping to answer this question community owners/managers usually ask us:

How might I check how well my community is doing?

True to what you said though, using the needs and wants of the user can give a more wholesome answer to that question, but would be over-answering the question and may be seen as confusing as it would be doing more of re-strategising the community as a whole and not doing a health check. It would also become a more complex set of steps to follow and would go outside the scope of the question we were looking to answer, so I figured this should be simpler.

If you still want a guide to follow on how to improve your community’s experience using the needs and wants of their users, I developed an extended experience map with inbuilt prompts that anyone can follow, see here:

I also recently wrote a small guide to accompany this map, see here:

There you’ll see something more detailed with respect to following the needs and wants of the users or community members. Do let me know if this helps.

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You have a very good suggestion there. That is one way to beat FB. Draw the users from FB to your forum by just posting a link (and maybe a one-sentence description). This will both keep your FB group alive, but redirect more people to your forum. Why put everything on FB where there will be no reason for someone to visit your forum? Dangle those carrots! :wink:

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