Insights to improve your online experiences.

Online communities are popping up on every digital street corner. From Facebook groups to Salesforce Communities, more businesses are bringing all their people together in once place to connect and engage with each other. Why? Because they know that in 2018, real relationships and human-to human interaction are key to business success. By creating these online spaces, businesses are not only gaining better customer retention and loyalty, but they're also getting mega insights into who their buyers are and their biggest challenges.

Building a powerful, branded, and connected experience for the most important people to you and your business really does pay off. You might not get it quite right the first time, but that's okay. Sometimes the best way to design is to test things out to see what works best. If something's not quite right, you can tweak it until it does.

So, does your online community need a bit of a make-over? Here are some of the big signs it's time to give your business a boost with a more collaborative, interactive, and engaging community redesign. 

1. People aren't using it

Is it a little quiet around there? Perhaps your Community isn't interactive enough. Or maybe it's not as easy to use as you might have first thought. Just because you've built it, doesn't always mean they will come — that's not how this movie plays out. Try prompting engagement by asking for users' opinions, sparking conversations, and updating your community regularly. You also need to make it easy as possible for members to share articles, get involved with discussions, and post new questions.

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2. The navigation isn't clear

Visitors and users might be confused about where things are in your online community. Make sure it's easy to navigate around your community, so users don't get lost or frustrated. Think about the key UX quote: "don't make me think". Users need to find your community effortless to move around, without too much thought needed.

3. Actions aren't clear

Users might be overwhelmed with calls-to-action, or perhaps there aren't any which are clear enough. What do you want users to do? Define your focus for each page, and make the actions undoubtedly clear for your users.

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4. Your design looks outdated

If your design looks old, your visitors and users aren't going to trust it. Think about it; if your community looks like you've not edited it since the '90s, at a glance, people are just going to think it's an old, forgotten page. In fact, a study by Dr. Elizabeth Sillence found that 94% of people attribute their trust or mistrust of a website to its design.

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5. You're not converting new members

There's a clear sign something's up when people don't even want to join your community. Is it easy to sign up? Have you checked your forms? You could even review member activity data to find out what content is most popular, and what isn't. This will help you design the best way to display content that will influence prospects to join your community.

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6. It's not easy to manage

If your community isn't easy to manage and edit, it can quickly become out-of-date. Community administrators need to be able to update parts of the community regularly, so it might be worth adding some drag-and-drop, inline-editing functionality.

7. It's not personal enough

Communities don't have to be a one-size-fits all approach. Now, you can show more relevant content for members in certain locations, in certain roles, and who want to select certain preferences. This makes a user's experience much more tailored, helping your build a relationship with your community members and encourage better engagement and retention.

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8. It's not GDPR-ready

Now that GDPR is on the not-so-distant horizon, it might be time to work out how your community platform plans to commit to the new general data protection laws, and show that transparently. In Salesforce Community Cloud, for example, there are lots of different tools to help you manage your customer data and track the preferences and consent of end users. You can read more about that here.

9. Your Community is slow to load — or worse — it isn't responsive...

Loading time is a huge contributor to page abandonment. We simply have no patience for any pages which take too long to load these days. Plus, these days, it should be a crime to not have a mobile-enabled online space, whether that be a general website or an online community portal (okay, maybe a crime is a little dramatic). But seriously — if your community isn't mobile or tablet-optimised, you've got a big problem.

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10. New ideas, features or change of offerings

It could be that your business has changed, your branding has been upgraded, or you simply have some fresh new ideas. Your community should always reflect these changes within your business, whether that's via some new, smarter features in your community, or a style and branding change for consistency across all areas of your business.

There are lots of new ways Salesforce Communities can work harder for your business. We can help you make sure the investment is worth it. Chat to us today about your plans! 

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