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The right tools and user experience-Part Two:

Community Building Extensions and Customer Experience Using Joomla CMS

Communities with JoomlaWhen building out your technology platform for a community site using Joomla! CMS you have several options for extensions that you can use. The two most popular are: www.jomsocial.com and www.joomlapolis.com. Each has benefits or strengths depending on the type of community you are building and the priorities of how the data associated with user profiles will be handled.

Essentially what these extensions do is, they allow you to build “buckets” of information (extended profile fields) associated with a user profile. These profile fields are linked with the Joomla user profile and authentication system. For example; JomSocial organizes this information differently than Community Builder and thus giving you alternate ways of displaying your profile related content. Comparisons will be beyond the scope of this article but you should make sure that you take the time to evaluate each of these extensions suites based on some the following criteria:

  • How will I need to present profile information?
  • Will I need lists or to segment information from profiles into reports?
  • How will users collaborate in the system and what features do they need?
  • Will they be sharing files and photos?
  • How do their systems integrate with the priority social networks you will connect with?
  • How comfortable are the system administrators with either of the tool suites?
  • Which templates will best support your goals for the look and feel and how will they look?
  • What other extension will be used and are they compatible with them?
  • How will they affect my intended user experience?

I am sure there are other questions that can be asked but either way you should make sure you do a careful evaluation with your developers and stakeholders.

Once you have chosen the most appropriate Community extensions and are comfortable with how they integrate with other potential extensions in your strategy you can start building.

User experience:

Some of the important aspects to consider for users when they first get to your site are:

  • Will this be easy for them to join and participate in?
  • Is there any information related to the membership sign up process that you need to communicate?
  • When in the interaction is the best place for this all to happen?

Careful consideration of the content and information that your users see when they first get introduced to your community will leave a lasting impression as they continue to the next steps of exploring what they can get from participating.

Pace the roll out of your bells and whistles:

It is very easy to overwhelm your users with too much information or too many features all at once. One effective strategy is to have regular updates and frequently add something new and exciting for users when they return to your site.Consider rolling out features over time and swapping out call to action images without losing consistency. Select your priority features to push first and then consider adding new features every month or week over a period of time. This gives you opportunity to tease and excite visitors and may actually create some groundswell of conversation that will help enthusiasm for your community.

Respond quickly:

You will need to keep a sharp ear open to your community. If you are hearing folks are having a difficult time with using some of your features or if there are technical issues you should be prepared to respond very quickly. Not doing so could cause irreversible damage to any momentum you have been building within your community. Responding to new feature requests and communicating promptly will also build loyalty within your community and encourage referrals from within. If you are not listening remember there is a lot of competition for where your users can spend their time online these days.

For more information on Building Communities with Joomla CMS see other related articles in this series.

Part One: Starting with a plan

Part Three: Marketing, Audience and Incentives

Part Four: Building Revenue Streams

Christopher Nielsen is the CEO/General Manager for www.cnpintegrations.com and will be a featured speaker at the Joomla Day Chicago event August 10th 2012.

For more information on the myPugetSound.net Case Study presentation about building communities with Joomla! CMS visit: http://joomladaychicago.com