Want to learn about your use cases of running a community management system
I wonder about your motivation of running a community management system. I ask myself if that goal of the UNA team, to develop an open platform for any use case is ever reachable, providing so many functions and modules, for so many different use cases.
Let me start with my own use case.
I represent a new founded NPO in Austria, Europe. Our overall goal is to "develop, support and enable initiatives to become successful as a community".
First, we thought of "successful" only in a professional way, since we founders are all experts in business founding and consulting. While we were working on defining our goals we became aware that success does not mean necessarily to reach ones goals in a sense of carreer or wealth. Because it's just one aspect of a successful life. That was the trigger to widen our goals and we noticed, that we cannot foresee what success means for the individual. One might tie his personal success to having a lot of money, another would rather see himself as successful when he can do something meaningful in his life.
We will use our UNA community platform to let people explore what makes them happy and successful. And to find others, who might be able to support them on their way in defining and reaching their goals. For doing so, their community will be accessable 24/7 for them, to share new ideas and thoughts right at the moment, when it came up to their mind. The community should exchange and discuss ideas, giving input in chats or at online or physical events, it should enable them to learn one from another and it should help to find ways that others already walked on.
For our primary goal as an NPO, the UNA CMS has so many functions and modules that can support our use case that I, as the future community admin, sometimes find myself lost in assuming what my community will be using and what they will deny. But, we always will and can discuss that with the community and add or dismiss any module or function. And a community-wide poll on that will include them and make them feel heard.
I would be happy about hearing your thoughts on what's your use cases and why you think that you can reach your goals by running a CMS like UNA.
This is a great discussion to start. UNA is indeed quite powerful and can be used in various way, but it is really important to develop vision and structure before turning things on and off. We see that at least half of the projects end up getting lost in unending feature-juggling, instead of costing on a couple of core use-cases and building community culture.
I can't stress it enough - define what you want to build BEFORE you turn on features. For example, if you're building something like Twitter (microblogging network) - you don't need to enable Albums, Discussions, Events, Groups, etc. Just use Timeline, Updates or Posts for main content items, Channels, Persons and Messenger. Turn off friendships, relationships, don't use paid levels, don't set up Spaces, etc. Then, clean up navigation and all forms to ensure there's nothing there you don't need. Keep it simple, try to make it work with bare minimum combination of modules. Onboard test users, start growing your community, get to the first 10K users or so, talk to them and you'd know if there's a calling for, say, Groups or maybe dedicated Videos section, etc.
Often people "build" for years and never launch. It gets worse if the first advice is not followed, too. You learn far more about your site needs when it has real users. Nothing like production run. All the today's giants started as small and simple sites - it's OK. Launch when you have an MVP and iterate!
Ands as for UNA - it can be used for many things, but we do have our goals set out for education, collaboration, creative content sharing and eventually distributed personal social networking.
Thank you for replying first, Andrew. You know, I am strongly committed to the vision of the UNA developper team.
What I learned so far, after approx. one year digging into community platform design (you are the architects, we are the designers) is, that whenever I am in online conferences with people I just learn to know, my mind starts flying around "what's her goals and how could she profit as my community platform member". I know, it's useless, but I cannot help it.
I found out, that the most demanding thing for me as a UNA community plattform designer, is assuming what's the best tools for my future community members to use, especially with potentially "concurring" modules/tools. For instance, I could eather use Groups mod for people with some kind of matching interests, or I could offer them the new Spaces mod, which could mean by far more options or, in a negative way, overwhelming my community members with too much functionality, when they just try to gather as a group with the same interest(s). Other examples are Discussions vs. Articles vs. Feed contribution (I know the difference, but you need to explain it to your community members first, in order to understand its usage) or E-Mail Messages vs. Text Chat, etc. I am sure, for you inventors of the UNA platform and for the majority of us, who dig into the world of the UNA CMS, concepts are clear. But, sometimes, even I get lost with concepts. Remember the Video Webinar, when you explained the new paid join and I watched the recording, and got lost in the difference between admin rights and group admin rights.
I would like to stress out your statement about too much functionality, that might people discourage from using a community platform. Keep it as simple as possible and give them tools they like to use.
It's important to remember that UNA modules are not always complimentary. Many of them overlap in functionality and sometimes should not be used side by side at all. For example, Albums, Photos and Videos - you only use Albums for Facebook-style erosional mixed-media albums, while Photos are more for sites like Instagram, and Videos are for sites like Youtube. Albums contain photos and video files, but grouped, so they can't be browsed as a separate media types. It owed be way too confusing to use all 3 on ones site, especially if there's no clearly articulated purpose difference for each.
I have had great response with Video, Photos and Albums all being on my site. Having a separate photo input place from albums has had a big "YAY" from members. My members love it. Albums being tied to profiles and titled albums, where people can share there memories with friends family, etc. Albums can also be shared with certain individuals or members with rights access per profile owner. Photos they have found, is a simple and quick way to share just a photo or two, not tied to an album. More a public place that is open to everyone. Photos allow for freedom without it having to be tied to anything, but yet allows for connection to an individual. Videos are great as well. members upload videos that they choose to share and have public or make them available like albums. People share videos of family, places they have been, etc. So having all 3 of them on the site has been a huge asset. So far not a one person has complained. I also have set up the site menu to have more common menu items close to one another, which helps with navigation.
Now the things that I HAVE got complaints on, are the use of Spaces, WIKI. These two I may remove, because there is no information on how to use them, or helping someone make use of them. Instruction and how-to's are a bit scarce for sure. There a bit hard to use for members.
What I have found in the 15 years of social site building, is this... People love having a bunch of options and content on one site. They like the fact they don't have to go elsewhere to do something one site can do with everything. It comes down to this. Setup, Menu ease of use and categorized ease throughout. Also the beauty of the site matters. people like eye candy. There is a lot more I want and need, that was a big hit in the past, since the niche for the things I want are rare. There is only a couple sites that have what I am looking for...
So what I am getting at...? Its not about how much content is on a site, but rather ease of use.