What makes a community successful? Of course, there are many reasons, one of them being the community software. At the very least, your online community software should be easy to use and provide your customers or your audience with a modern user experience that people have come to expect. Why is it that so many community platforms out there are so poorly designed?
1. It’s really old
The web is getting old and there are still lots of old products hanging on. Software vendors would rather squeeze every penny out of these cash cows than properly update or redesign them. It sometimes shocking to find out how little engineering goes into products that still have a significant market share.
2. It’s a module in a suite
Building a rudimentary forum is pretty easy but building a good one is really hard. Some communities use software that is just one of many features in a suite. Suites provide value to the customer because they reduce the number of vendors and are integrated but often the end users (the members of the community) end up paying the price.
3. Home grown
Many companies suffer from ‘Not Invented Here’ syndrome and think they can build something just as good internally for less money. This doesn’t always work out. Usually the team quits development once the product is ‘good enough’ or some other more pressing project comes up.
4. Built for the wrong person
In many cases, software is purchased by a CIO or some other executive. The result is that the vendor’s product roadmap is skewed to the CIO or other employee’s needs and consideration of end users is lost. What’s more important: dozens of useless dashboard and ISO compliance or tons of activity in your community?
5. It’s not actually community software
Hey look! This intranet software is now community software and all we had to do was create a new data sheet! Where there’s money to be made, you’ll see software vendors trying to contort their product to look like it can do anything.
Good online community software should be designed for the member experience first. If your community is not easy to use and does not encourage participation, you are creating an unnecessary barrier to achieving your objectives.
Is creating a great member experience in your your software vendor’s DNA?
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