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Invision Community Blog


Our take on managing successful online communities

5 ways to monetize your community

To monetize, or not to monetize, that is the question that preoccopies our administrators! Ok, I'm no Shakespeare, but a vital question community owners are faced with at some point is: can we and should we make some money from our community? Let's first look at the "should we?" <br> Absolutely! You don't need to frustrate your users or risk goodwill by starting monetization. Running a …

bfarber

bfarber

Why owning your own community is better than using a Facebook Group

Are you a member of a busy Facebook Group? Do you find it overwhelming trying to sort through all the posts to find something posted the day before? Are you now missing new posts and only seeing them a few days later? Facebook Groups are tempting to use as they are free to set up but is this the best decision for the future of your business? At the beginning with just a handful of member…

Matt

Matt

7 ways to nurture new members and encourage more participation

There are many different reasons to build a community. It might be based on your business or a hobby. It may be to talk about your favourite sports team. Whatever the content, the key to success is to engage your community. We've been helping successful communities for over 15 years. During that time, we've picked up a handful of tips that we are going to share with you today. Pick one t…

Matt

Matt

How to brand your community in minutes

One of the advantages of running your own community is that you get to control the branding. Branding is important as it defines and re-enforces your customer's experience. Branding also promotes recognition, it sets you apart from your competition and it provides motivation and direction for your staff. Invision Community has many built in tools to change the look and feel of the commun…

Matt

Matt

7 questions you must answer before starting your community

When I started creating communities close to two decades ago, getting new members was easy. All you had to do was put up a script, create some "Chat here" forums and email your friends. It didn't take long for word to spread and you had a healthy forum buzzing with conversation. Now, it's different. The internet is a crowded space. No matter what your niche, you will be competing with other b…

Matt

Matt

6 ways to simplify your community and drive up engagement

Despite your best efforts, is engagement a problem for your community? You have your site promotion running well and you are seeing plenty of traffic but it doesn't convert into comments, posts or reactions? Invision Community is a powerful platform that offers layers of complexity for the many sites it powers. When you are struggling to convert page views into comments, it's worth taking a s…

Matt

Matt

How to lock down and keep your community secure

Making security considerations a key part of your community setup and maintenance can save you from many future headaches. You've worked hard to get your community moving. Don't make yourself an easy target and undo that work. Here’s our current advice to our customers.   1. Enable HTTPS <br> HTTPS is fast becoming the standard way to serve websites. In 2016, more than 50% of …

Rikki

Rikki

Build a fortress: stop spam in your community

We all know what a pain spam can be. We deal with it daily in our inboxes often relying on clever software to filter it out for us. Even worse, some spam is so well disguised that it can fool you into thinking it is a genuine message. You've put in the hard work with your community. You've used the built in social promotion tools and SEO features to get it noticed. Now that it's indexing well…

Matt

Matt

Top tips for optimizing your community's SEO

Unlike a regular website, where you write content for each page, target keywords and optimize text, a forum community's content is predominantly written by users. They don't know or care about your site's SEO and just want to interact with other users or find answers to their questions. To keep your community moving forward, Invision Community implements many best-practice SEO techniques and …

Rikki

Rikki

6 reasons why you shouldn't just settle for a Facebook group community

Whether you run an existing community or are taking tentative first steps into setting up an online community forum around your brand, an important choice you need to make is between social networks like Facebook or having a community you own and control. Let's take a look at the benefits of an owned community versus a Facebook group - as well as how you can still use Facebook (and other soci…

Rikki

Rikki

Highlighting staff posts to improve communication

Whatever the purpose of a community - be it customer support, fan engagement, interest-based groups and so on - there's usually a need for site staff to communicate important information to users. Of course, in some cases this information is best suited to a site announcement, which by design has a lot of visibility and authority. But it's important that day to day staff posts stand out too…

Rikki

Rikki

Proactive and reactive moderation - which is right for your online community?

One of the bigger decisions a community manager has to make as a community grows is whether to employ proactive or reactive moderation (or a combination of both). This isn’t always a conscious decision; sometimes forum moderation features are toggled without giving much explicit thought to the style of moderation desired and the pros and cons of doing so. It’s worth taking a moment to consider the…

Rikki

Rikki

 

Avoiding Google Security Warnings

Google has recently been stressing that sites should use secure connections (served via HTTPS) whenever possible. They have recently also started warning sites that collect password on non-secure pages and will also be updating Google Chrome to warn users when a password is being entered on a non-secure page. You can read more information at Google and a good article on Ars Technica. There ar…

Charles

Charles

 

Theme Tip: Color coding tags

We were recently asked if it's possible to color code tags - the customer in question used tags as statuses on topics, and so wanted 'resolved' to be green, and so on. Despite being a great idea, this isn't something that is currently possible 'out of the box' - although we'll add it to our internal feature idea list to follow up on later! But just because it isn't built in, that doesn't mean…

Rikki

Rikki

 

Theme Tip: Create a per-forum feed block

An enterprise customer recently asked us how to have a different feed block for each of their forums. Their goal was to have each forum show a 'popular topics' block containing topics only from that particular forum. Unfortunately this isn't possible using the standard block manager right now, since each view is treated as one configuration. That means that any blocks added to forum view will show…

Rikki

Rikki

 

Theme Tip: Replacing forum icons with images

In IPS4, it's easy to add custom icons to your forums, simply by uploading them on the Edit Forum screen in the AdminCP. But if you want to replace all of your forum icons, uploading the same icon for each forum can be a bit tedious. It's easy to use some custom CSS to replace all of the icons - lets see how. First, you'll want to upload the image(s) you want to use to the Resources sect…

Rikki

Rikki

 

Theme Tip: 5 useful template tags

IPS4's theme system has a feature called template plugins, which are special tags that do something to the values you pass in. You'll see them throughout the templates - they look like this: {lang="..."} This tag displays the language string for the key you pass into it, and is probably the most commonly used one. But there's many others too, so let's review some of the useful ones you can …

Rikki

Rikki

 

Theme Tip: Dynamic(ish) forum feeds inside Pages databases

Recently, we had a post in our pre-sales forum that asked how to achieve a few different things with Pages. One of the questions asked was if it was possible to show topics from a particular forum in each database record. While Pages can create a topic for each record for you, there's no way to associate an entire forum with a record. In my reply, I indicate that you'd need to have a forum ID…

Rikki

Rikki

 

Theme Tip: Styling specific elements on specific pages

Occasionally you'll want to style a specific element on a specific page of your community - maybe you want to change how topic titles are shown inside a topic, or do something specific to the styles used in activity streams, without also altering other screens where the same elements are used. Your first instinct might be to open the template editor and add some custom classnames so you can s…

Rikki

Rikki

 

Theme Tip: Using custom template bits

We frequently encourage people to use custom CSS files when designing their themes. The reason for this is simple: it makes upgrading your site much easier because IPS4 can apply any changes to its own CSS files, and will leave your custom CSS files untouched. If instead you made edits to IPS4's CSS directly, it wouldn't be able to upgrade them automatically, which means more work for you, and a p…

Rikki

Rikki

 

Theme Tip: Advanced uses for Pages database fields

Our Pages app includes a powerful feature that allows you to create your own databases within the community. Within each database, you create custom fields (we support a number of custom types, from plain text fields, to YouTube embeds and more). And while we provide some generic, simple templates to display your data, custom templates allow you to more precisely control how your database looks in…

Rikki

Rikki

 

Theme Tip: Using Pages blocks anywhere

Blocks are an extremely popular feature in IPS4, used by a huge number of customers to great effect. They range from feeds of topics, to statistics, to custom blocks that can contain anything you wish. They're a great way to add dynamic content to your community theme. What many people don't know is that blocks you create with Pages can be used anywhere in your theme, not just in the designat…

Rikki

Rikki

 

7 ways to secure your community

Security should never be an afterthought for your community. All too often, site owners consider beefing up their security only when it's too late and their community has already been compromised. Taking some time now to check and improve the security of your community and server could pay dividends by eliminating the cost and hassle of falling victim to hacking in the first place. Let's run …

Rikki

Rikki

 

Theme Tip: Create custom error pages with the Pages app

When IPS4 encounters an error (be it a simple 404 Not Found or a more complex configuration issue), the user sees a standard built-in error page. That's fine in many cases, but did you know you can create your own error page using our Pages app? This is a particularly good approach for communities that use Pages for their website too. If you have built a website theme, the standard error page…

Rikki

Rikki

 

Theme Tip: Use HTML logic to display content to specific groups

HTML Logic is our name for the additional tags available in IPS4's templates that allow runtime logic to be executed. It comprises if/then/else statements as well as loops and more. Since HTML Logic has access to all of the underlying PHP framework in IPS4, it's very powerful and a lot can be achieved with it. One common use is to limit certain content within a template to particular member g…

Rikki

Rikki

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