Communities are places for people to ask questions, get support, or even share ideas. The last one is an important function, especially for companies who actually offer a service or make a product.
Ideation, when used properly, can be very powerful. In essence, adding an ideas section to your community allows users to post ideas, vote on them and comment on shared ideas, but it's more. It's a great way to be transparent in your roadmap, while also encouraging creativity from your own customers and getting feedback on community submitted ideas.
We are proud to announce that Vanilla has made ideation even easier in your community!
Getting Started with Ideation in Vanilla
Ideation is available on plans at the Enterprise level on our hosted platform (more details below). It also requires you to enable the Tagging and Reactions add-ons in your community. Once enabled, you will notice that when you go to create a Category (under the forum section of your dashboard), the following new options will appear:
As you see, once you select to create a category using Ideation, you will also have the option of using down votes. We've found sometimes down-voting, in some communities, may hinder people from coming forward with ideas or creating discussions. If you choose not to select the down vote option, members can vote up an idea, or abstain from voting (if they disagree). Each member of the community gets one vote on each idea.
Also, just like regular categories, you can customize Ideation by adding a category icon, and even a CSS class to make the idea category really stand out (learn more on doing that here). I've made some minor changes in this example.
Here is what our newly created Ideation category looks like on the homepage:
Here is an example of what the inside of the category would look like, with various sorting and status options (more on that later):
Here is an example of one of the ideas:
Remember, just like the rest of Vanilla, you can customize Ideation to match the look and feel of your brand.
How do I create an new Idea?
If you are looking to create an idea, all you need to do is select "New Idea" from the discussion drop down. It will open a box, which looks very similar to the one for a normal discussion.
Once the idea is submitted, those with the permission can set an idea status (more on statuses below), from the gear icon found next to a discussion.
When you click the "Edit Idea Status" link, you will be presented with the following box which allows you to edit the status and also add additional information about the idea.
Can anyone submit or create an idea?
Like any category, you can have complete granular control over the abilities a member can have in the ideas category. When you create your ideation category, Vanilla will use the default permissions used by all categories. You can select "This category has custom permissions" when you create the ideas category or modify permissions any time from the category edit screen of the appropriate idea category.
Once selected you will see a grid to decide which member roles have which permission in the ideas category:
By leaving the checkbox checked you are enabling an ability. In the context of an ideas category this means the following to those with members roles in the Idea category:
- View: The members will be able to view the ideas in the category.
- Discussions: The members of your community will be able to add ideas to the idea category.
- Comments: The members of you community will be able to comment on ideas in the idea category.
What are the different statuses?
In most companies, there are different stages or statuses for ideas. As is usual with Vanilla, we have some suggested statuses for your ideas, but it is fully customizable to use the labels of your workflow. You can find "Idea Statuses" in the dashboard of your Vanilla community under the "Forum" menu section.
Once inside you will find the following Idea Statuses:
You can add a new status, delete any you feel are not needed, or edit an an existing one:
How do I sort ideas and by statuses?
You can sort ideas by the various status, but with ideation also comes also a new feature to be able to sort discussions. You can view what's hot (causing lots of comments), what's getting the most votes (top) and what's new (the latest idea added).
How do members of the community vote on an idea?
As long as an idea is in an open status, it can be voted on. As mentioned, each member of your community has one vote.
How do I hide Ideation topics in Recent Discussions?
When you create the ideation category, you can hide Ideas by selecting "Hide from the recent discussions page."
We hope you found this post on ideation handy. We've put together the following tutorial video on it as well, so you can see it in action.
Note on Enabling Ideation in your plan:
As mentioned, Ideation is available on plans at the Enterprise level on our hosted platform. If you are on that plan and want to turn it on, just contact your Customer Success Manager for their assistance. If you'd like to upgrade or learn more about our plans, our sales team is happy to assist! Please contact us here.