Having worked on a number of online communities on diverse platforms, we have found that there are a few essential elements that make up a user-centric community homepage. Leveraging the right real estate on your community’s homepage provides a rich user experience, enables increased page views and unique visits.
In this blog post we’ll take a look at Centrify’s community. Centrify, an identity management software, wanted the flexibility and the independence to modify community elements, on-the-fly. We went ahead and developed a custom solution that gave them greater control over their own community.
Let’s take a look at the 13 essentials elements of a user-centric community:
User details should always be kept on top of the page. A community homepage should make it easy for users to spot their details like username, inbox etc. As you can see, on Centrify’s community we kept the user detail section at the top right side.
Right below User details, we have a Navigation Bar which lets users access all the important areas. This is an equally essential element of a community homepage. You want give users the ability to navigate to other pages of the community, irrespective of where they are on the community.
Most people love visuals, and they spend more time on webpages that contain a video. The Centrify community homepage contains a curated video. Some video types that you must consider adding to your community homepage are:
- How-To Videos
- Recorded Webinars
- Partner Spotlights
- Curated Videos
They are important pieces of information that you want every community member to know. The best practice is to keep them above the fold. This is done so that community members don’t skip out on crucial info.
Ask the Community, Auto Suggestions, and New Questions
Minimizing the number of discussion topics that already exist, is key to keeping your community healthy. That’s why it’s a great idea to have a search bar on the homepage. This can greatly reduce the number of duplicate discussions.
Also, a powerful way to improve community navigation is through auto suggestions. As a user types in the search bar, the bar auto-suggests the results. Auto suggestions also increase engagement in the community.
One of the most crucial elements of a community is federated search. It lets users help themselves and access relevant information right on the homepage from across multiple sources. Federated search gives community users the ability to find relevant info with ease.
Another essential element of a community homepage is to place widgets. When you need to show recent announcements, help articles, top solutions, featured content etc. widgets come in handy. Widgets can be used to serve multiple purposes.
Another essential element of a community homepage is a scroll marquee. It presents a dedicated area to show multiple CTAs.
A community, being a collaboration platform, should feature the latest posts/discussions on the homepage. This shows how engaging and up-to-date the platform is.
Filters facilitate easy navigation helping users access the discussion areas they want to without leaving the home page.
The best gamification technique to encourage user engagement is to have leaderboards on the community homepage. By crowning the top contributors, you can motivate more users to participate and contribute.
An essential element to make your community easily navigable and clean is by the use of labels. Labels are used to categorize and filter the posts/discussions.
The right pane can be used to display relevant leader boards, latest solutions, and the top kudoed posts etc.
These 13 essential elements of a community homepage ensure that your community members get a flawless user experience, and are able to easily navigate through the community.