Published by Angus on 16 Nov 2009 at 05:45 am
We are sharing some of our standard advice for designing an effective online group. We believe the key to any effective group is simplicity. Relatively few calls to action, a lack of clutter, and a limit to functionality. Do you have any ideas to share?
- Be upfront with your purpose: You created your online group for a reason. Share that somewhere accessible for your members, especially if you have a public group and want to recruit new members. On WiserEarth you can edit the tagline and description for your group by going to Admin Tools > Edit Group Details. A good example of this would be the Earth Charter + 10 Forum
- Emphasize only one or two action steps: Decide what you want your visitors to do and put those items at the top of your group. On WiserEarth you can use a Bulletin Board module and provide text and hyperlinks out to where you want your members to go. A good example of this would be the Weversity
- More functionality equals more frustration: For every new feature there is more to learn, more to tweak and configure, more to customize, more to read about in help documents. If you can choose which features to display on your group take advantage of it. For example, on WiserEarth, Group Administrators can add and remove any of twelve different modules. Just use the features that you need – it will make your group members happier.
- Go beyond text: Videos and photos can communicate a great deal of information in a brief and entertaining way. WiserEarth allows you to embed YouTube Videos and add photos, so you can quickly incorporate these alternate methods into your discussion. A good example of this would be Story of Stuff
- Allow for some white space: Research shows that readers enjoy websites more when they aren’t too dense with text.
- Make activity visible: Highlight your members’ contributions and stroke a few egos! If you can, look to see if your group has a way to track and share activity. On WiserEarth you can see group activity by going to Admin Tools > View Group Activity.
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