Hi I’m gaining some insights that might be useful to some community owners.
As a part of project I’m working with a startup that makes juice cleanse kits. They are very successful since slow juicing is a new and hip health trend, and the startup has a big following on Facebook and Instagram. This start up want a community site were they can offer customer support, share recipes and discuss slow juicing. The demographic is women between 20 and 40 (70%).
We asked around 200 customers if they were interested in such a community, were they could discuss slow juicing. By far the majority said yes. We created a site to test if they really meant it. A wordpress site as a frontpage and Discourse as the community backbone. We invited a 110 and bribed 10 to create a user, create some content and let us interview them about the experience.
Almost nobody apart for the 10 we paid (with free juice) created a user. The main obstacle seems to be that Discourse is initially too confusing.
Everybody I interviewed said they loved the idea. They really needed a place to find juice recipes and discuss it. None of them was used to internet forums. They use Facebook and Instagram and follow blogs. When I asked them about the experience they all said, that Discourse was too confusing, there was too much information on the frontpage.
Personally I couldn’t understand this, since I find Discourse rather simple compared to traditional forum software. But it turns out that they were all using their iPhone and the amount of information was too much for the little screen, and probably what they are used too on Instagram. They said that all the text apart from the subject confused them, initially. Like information about the last activity, which user has created.
I dont know if this information should be removed or if there is some design tricks to display these things that is easily comprehensible. But for this demographic Discourse needs to be more simple.
However when they are used to it, they love Discourse. The ones we forced to use it, keep interacting with and told me that they are learning it and think it is easy to actually use. They just think that front page with the Latest topics is overwhelming. Several told me that if they hadn’t be bribed to use they would have been scared away, which might explain why almost no one created a use without getting free juice.