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Gary
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Keep it simple, silly!

Welcome to my first Invision Community blog post!

For those that haven't yet seen me making my way around this community, I'm Gary, and I have just recently joined the Customer Service team at Invision Community. I want to take this moment to thank the staff for giving me such an amazing opportunity and welcoming me with open arms.

My history goes way back to circa 2004-2005 (I was still in high school) where I first dug my hands into forums and forum software in the good old Invisionfree days. Through the years I have created too many communities to count, including my own free post-to-host hosting service (remember those days?). Some were successful and so many others were anything but. Little did I know these experiences would only get me more and more hooked into this virtual world!

Forums have been more to me than just an invaluable source of information. They are communities of like-minded people sharing their knowledge, experiences, hobbies and most of all, coming together in a common place to just be themselves. I have experienced nearly every forum software out there, though I always made my way back to the Invision Community suite of products as I not only found it to be a very powerful and dynamic bit of kit, but it always provided the solutions I wanted and needed for my communities.

I thought I would share some tips on things that have worked for me when creating my own community. This will make up part one of a set of planned blog entries relating to community tips in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

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Use the KISS principle.

One thing I have found in order to engage guests and new and existing members of my community is to incorporate the 'Keep it simple, silly!' principle.

When you visit a community and you're overwhelmed with categories, forums and unnecessary pinned topics, you are actually not doing yourself a favour. It mostly adds confusion to your community and does the complete opposite to having things organised. Too much clutter is never a good thing, and keeping things orderly and ensuring content is concise will provide your members with a more comfortable and easier overall experience. I did not incorporate this principle into my communities, and soon realised that was a huge contributor to the cause of their demise. 😅

Keep some of these in mind:

  • Can I combine forums that are similar in content?
  • Do I need so many separately pinned topics?
  • Can I write more concisely? Targeting this point on the more administrative side of things like 'how to use this forum' topics, forum descriptions, etc.
  • Are there things that are already self-explanatory and do not require repeat descriptions or mentions?
  • Can I use less jargon and target my writing to a wider audience?
  • Am I using too many graphics?
  • If the above is not a factor, can graphics assist in reducing large chunks of plain text?
  • When is too much, in fact, too much?

Quality over quantity as they say. How about, less is more?

Whatever stance you take and whichever influential quote you can most relate to, you want your audience to feel welcomed, not overstimulated with irrelevant content you think they need to see. Let your audience guide your community. I will delve into this further in the next blog entry.

I'll leave it there for this edition, otherwise I may just keep you here all day...

I'm sure there are many of you who are doing this so well already, so please share your own useful and proven tips and tricks. What have you found works for you and your community? What is something you are doing differently or uniquely in an effort to keep it simple?

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One thing I consistently find is that when I eliminate parts of the community that are underperforming, there's a moment of emptiness and then I get a really good idea on how to improve the rest of the site. It's like you have to eliminate the debris before the good will reveal itself.

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That was the genius of Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, the guy who simultaneously led one of the most innovative teams in history, and coined the KISS Principle, i.e. “Keep it simple, stupid.” Johnson was a renowned aeronautical engineer at Lockheed Martin for more than 40 years.

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That is another good point, @Interferon! It may not be the easiest thing to do, but most times it really is the right solution. And for those that may not want to remove something from their communities altogether, then that's okay. There are alternatives such as trying to find common ground and combining numerous or repetitive categories or forums. Your audience will appreciate it, and overall, it makes your job easier with less "maintenance" and moderation of those multiple areas. If things go south and there is a bit of resistance from your community, then you can always get it back to how it was and find another way forward.

It is sometimes wise to just take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

It was, @Bethanyrayne. I did a bit of reading about him and related to this line on Wikipedia:

Quote

The principle is best exemplified by the story of Johnson handing a team of design engineers a handful of tools, with the challenge that the jet aircraft they were designing must be repairable by an average mechanic in the field under combat conditions with only these tools.

The very same principle can be implemented in so many different ways, so I thought it wise to use it in my first blog entry as an introduction to the series of blog entries I have planned. I believe it can really help struggling communities, or further strengthen established ones.

It was suggested to go with a euphemism in case the original wording was offensive to someone our community.

Thanks for the input! 🙂

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