Monday, 12 May 2008

Developing Successful Communities Online - Part 4 - Personalisation

Personalised experiences are key to making users feel like they belong and to help them take ownership of the spaces they're helping create.


  • Allow profile creation and customisation – avatars are another possibility, and might add a bit of fun

  • Profiles should include an option to create full searchable professional biographies

  • Use customisable Web Parts or Page Flakes

  • Allows users to set up alerts and RSS updates to their mail client or "My Sites"

  • Utilise features that allows content pre-filtered by user profile settings

Peer to peer community

  • Output Presence Information – i.e. Let users know who else is online

  • Instant Messaging – allow users to communicate with others who choose to make themselves available

  • Set up threaded discussion groups

  • Set up Forums

  • Create chat rooms for discussions and online seminars – maybe set up a weekly slot or lunch times where the chat room is open, and revolve the topic of discussion

  • Encourage users to set up wikis, and aim to generate the majority of inputted content in wiki form so it can continue to be improved rather than duplicated

  • Provide an option to “ask the experts” and create a workflow to divert these questions to users who volunteer as experts. Post responses so that everyone can see them.

  • Use moderators to ensure that user searches and question requests drive site content and evolution

  • Create contributor rankings / leader boards to incentivise users to participate and be recognised

Visual Differentiation

  • Extend organisational branding to the space, but ideally not corporate design or visuals

  • Use 'cool' and different graphics – the site is about people and community, not a corporate vehicle

  • Ensure clear differentiation from other intranets or websites – will make the space more memorable

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