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Managing successful online communities

Matt
 

Guest Blog: Joel's 5 Secret Interface Tips

Yet again, Joel hijacks our company blog for another generous slice of knowledge from the front-lines of administrating a successful community.

Inspired by Invision Community client @Joey_M who discovered the emoji of serendipity and chief architect @Matt who literally knows everything about Invision Community in ACP Tips and Tricks, they both made me realize there’s always something to learn no matter your level of experience. 

You know how to post.  You know how to react.  You sometimes spice it up and make a poll.  And for the most part, you and your users go about your forum lives with a secure sense of certainty and satisfaction that you know how to interact with your community.

But what if I told you there’s a whole world of wonder at your fingertips, young grasshopper?  Your Invision Community includes stars to navigate by; magical pictures that appear and disappear; and little yellow men who giggle, laugh, and sometimes roll over in delight. 

Here are 5 hidden tips to help you discover a little more of the IPS magic for you and your users.  

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How do you know what you don’t know?

1. Click-and-hold

Be sure to dazzle your users with this secret way of changing your content title.  Change titles of your content items such as topic titles, album titles, and download files by using the click-and-hold strategy. Go to your forums and click-and-hold down the mouse over any topic title until you see that you’re able to edit the title.  Surprise! Use this secret strategy as the perfect way to quickly mass edit titles.

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Click-and-impress your users with the click-and-hold strategy

2. Stars and Dots

Active forum users jump around dozens of boards every day to stay involved.  And within a loooong topic with many pages, you need a fast way to jump to the most recent unread topic.  Before each topic is an icon: either a dot or a star.  Clicking these icons will always jump you to the latest unread post, so you can quickly dive back into the conversation.  Dot means unread; Star means you participated in the topic.

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My forum icon constellation tells me that I’m most compatible with a Capricorn.

3. Emoji Short-codes

One of the newest features to be included in Invision Community is emojis.  While there are ways to insert emojis from both mobile keyboards and the editor, you can also start typing “:thumbs up:” to reveal the secret emoji menu.  Try it now in the comments of this article. Last person to give me an emoji thumbs up wins! 

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Be a 💯 with 🙂 

4. Image Attachments

Forum posts come alive with image attachments that add color and vibrancy. But adding thumbnails to the bottom of your posts is a missed opportunity to enrich your post at the appropriate spots within the post.  After you upload an image attachment to a forum post, double-click on the image attachment.  You’ll be presented with a secret menu with options to align and resize, so you can create stunning forum posts with images.

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Much color. Much alignment. So much wow.

5. Profile Banners

Banners play a prominent part in multiple parts of the community, such as the Calendar, Profile, Clubs, and Blogs.  But usually the page only displays a portion of the banner, and most of the banner is hidden.  If you ever want to see the full banner in all of its glory, click near the top of the banner to auto-magically reveal everything!  Now you see, now you don’t.  

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The iceberg is a metaphor

How many of these five secret tips did you know?

If you knew all five, give yourself a round of applause!  It’s rare for even the most seasoned Invision Community administrator to know all five, and you’ve mastered them all.

Did you know four?  Congrats, you’ve done a great job of exploring your community suite and you should keep it up.

Did you know three or less?  You should do some serious soul searching. Kidding. 

But it’s a definite sign that your soul would benefit from reading Invision Community News for more useful tips.  

Becoming a great community manager is a combination of community strategy and product knowledge.  By empowering yourself with more functional knowledge and tools, you’re giving yourself the ability to leverage a bigger toolkit.  Whether you’re typing emoji short-codes to laugh with your members or inserting attachments into a tutorial on hidden tips for your community, I hope you learned something new, something surprising, and something perhaps even a little wonderful. 

Let us know in the comments below what hidden tip surprised you the most.     

Edited by Matt


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15 hours ago, mdmx said:

Currently it is not included in the Topic Feed widget, maybe it will appear in version 4.4?

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It's there, I just fail to remember how to enable it. You might need to check the templates and remove a few // before it. I know it's there though.

This is a great read Joel and thanks for posting it Matt.

[Secretly I wanted to unearth more hidden gems as I was surprised when I triggered the emoji one). 😄  

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#3 I didn't know.

In a perfect IPS world there shouldn't be "secret" tips. They should be known by all. It is really great to have many features but if the users are not aware of them something is wrong with the UI.

There should be an inbuilt interactive help/tipp system that explains all features and functions.

Nevertheless, thanks for this article, I highly appreciate it.

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I knew about all of them except for #5 (Profile Banners). Very few, if any, of my members have their own banners, so it’s not something that might interest my lot.

If I remember correctly, #2 (Stars and Dots) existed in previous versions, or there was something similar, and other forum software tend to use a similar idea too, so it wasn’t new to me :smile:

The rest I either found by accident or had read about in some topic here.

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7 hours ago, Ramsesx said:

#3 I didn't know.

In a perfect IPS world there shouldn't be "secret" tips. They should be known by all. It is really great to have many features but if the users are not aware of them something is wrong with the UI.

There should be an inbuilt interactive help/tipp system that explains all features and functions.

Nevertheless, thanks for this article, I highly appreciate it.

IPS has a pretty neat ACP tour overlay that they developed for 4.3.0 (which I promptly overlooked because I didn't upgrade right away).  Nothing for the front end though.  

6 hours ago, Millipede said:

I knew about all of them except for #5 (Profile Banners). Very few, if any, of my members have their own banners, so it’s not something that might interest my lot.

If I remember correctly, #2 (Stars and Dots) existed in previous versions, or there was something similar, and other forum software tend to use a similar idea too, so it wasn’t new to me :smile:

The rest I either found by accident or had read about in some topic here.

Honest truth, I didn't know about the profile cover photo until I read about it here in the community a couple of weeks ago.  It's a neat trick though especially for users who do upload big photos.  So I would actually give myself a 4/5 on my own article, ha.  

 

Okay, there has to be someone who knows all 5??  😱

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Likewise, many people do not know that you can press the CTRL key and the right mouse button. You'll see options like pasting, pasting without formatting, etc.

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16 minutes ago, Spanner said:

Likewise, many people do not know that you can press the CTRL key and the right mouse button. You'll see options like pasting, pasting without formatting, etc.

Good tip! 

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My score is 4,9 / 5

I only forgot about the image alignments (that they don't stick to their own rows/lines and are positioned as fluid beside text) and I just wanted to code an own editor button for this as I've done during BBcode times before 👍

Now I can remember. 💥

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Aha! Enjoyed your post @Joel R ! 

I actually knew all 5 but re number 2, which I remember being discussed a while ago and I think it was Matt who couldn't believe nobody knew about it; I couldn't recall for the life of me what the icons meant! And I've already forgotten!

5: The sliding profile cover image I discovered quite by accident thanks to using an iPad, and I really like it. Awesome in its own uselessness, it's actually kind of therapeutic, repeatedly tapping it. Go try it now!

I'd love to see your community Joel, always been interested to see how you have it set up and make use of facilities. 😊

 

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1 hour ago, The Old Man said:

I'd love to see your community Joel, always been interested to see how you have it set up and make use of facilities. 😊

You know, if you ever visited my website, you'd probably remark how boring it is.  I have some forums.  I have some galleries.  I have some clubs.  I went fancy and added my own logo! It's the same technology, platform, and tools as every other IPS client.  

But I think the real magic is hidden beneath the surface in the everyday forum posts, about activating members, engaging with them through thoughtful conversation, creating emotive experiences, and building shared experiences.  These are things that any IPS client can do with the tools that are provided, and where I think a good community manager shines.  You take the platform, and build a community by people for people on top of the platform.  At the end if the day, the platform can't a surrogate for the hard, complex, and dynamic work of community engagement.  (But this also isn't a vacation slip to IPS devs though 😉). 

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