Ramsesx reacted to Matt for an entry, What's new in 4.4.5?
Minor releases are almost always just maintenance releases. We gather up a fistful of bug reports and fix them to ensure that every month or so, our clients enjoy more stability and efficiency with Invision Community.
However, more recently we've noticed that we're running low on bug reports, so we've managed to squeeze in a handful of improvements in Invision Community 4.4.5.
Let's take a look and see what's new in Pages.
How should the canonical tag behave?
While this isn't the most exciting name for a feature, it does explain it reasonably well. We had a recent discussion on the forums where it was pointed out that the canonical tag directed search engines to the first page of any record. While this makes perfect sense for an articles or blog system where the content you create is more important than the comments, it makes less sense if the user-generated content (aka the comments) is more important than the content you put up. A good example here is where you put up a video or link for review. You don't want the canonical tag pointing to the first page as it will ignore the reviews themselves.
If you didn't understand much of that, don't worry. The idea behind this feature is to provide Google and friends with a better hint about which content is more important. A happier Google bot slurping your site is a good thing.
How about that Admin CP menu?
When you create a new database in Pages, it is shown in the ACP menu under 'Content'. This is fine, but when you get a lot of databases, it starts looking a little cluttered, and it can be hard to find the correct one.
We've reworked the menu so items have their own section, and can be re-ordered using the ACP menu re-ordering system.
Member fields are now filterable.
Pages allows specific field types to be filterable. This means you can sort by them with the table's advanced search box, and you can drag and drop a filters widget next to the table to refine the rows shown.
Now a member custom field is filterable, which is handy if you use them in your databases.
Other areas of the suite.
A while back, we made a change that removed the ability to search messenger by the sender or recipient name. We also limited the reach of the search system to one year and newer.
Unsurprisingly, this wasn't very popular. We've restored sender, and recipient name searching removed the one year limit and re-engineered the internals of search, so it's more efficient and returns results much faster.
How many members do you have?
You can see quite quickly if you have the member stats widget on the front end, but finding out via the Admin CP is a little more tricky.
Until now! We've added a dashboard widget that not only shows the number of members you have registered, but also a break down of their email opt-in status.
A happier autocomplete.
Apple has this cool feature where if you receive a text message for a two-factor authentication login, it offers to auto-fill the code box for you.
We've had a sweep throughout the suite to ensure two-factor authentication fields allow this autocomplete to happen.
While we were at it, we made sure that other fields are more easily autocompleted.
That wraps up the new features in Invision Community 4.4.5. How many have you spotted after upgrading?
Let us know your favourite below.
Ramsesx reacted to Joel R for an entry, 4x4 Growth Hacks 🚀
Are you curious 🤔about ways to boost your engagement that don't require a lot of effort? Want some shortcuts to set your engagement on fire 🔥?
Check out these 4x4 tips of four growth hacks that you can implement in less than four minutes ⏳ to boost engagement.
1. Add a content block at the bottom of topics. Sounds upside down 🙃, right? Most admins add content blocks at the tops of pages to attract users. But what do users do when they're finished reading or replying to a topic? Nothing. They're finished ... unless you add a block such as similar content, popular posts, recent topics, or another content block at the bottom of topics that help them discover new content.
2. Tag in your superusers 🌟 to stimulate a conversation. Your community's superusers are probably just as active as you are, and thoroughly involved in the community. They're comfortable in the community and would love to provide input. Wouldn't you agree with me @AlexJ @GTServices @Sonya* @Maxxius @media @Nebthtet@Ramsesx @tonyv??
3. Run a poll ☑️. It makes the topic more interactive, and people love voting.
4. Write a contrarian topic or blog "Why XYZ isn't for you?" That's a surefire way to grab 😲 attention and begs the user to challenge back. And if you can't write a contrarian topic, then maybe ... being a community manager isn't right for you. Or is it?? 😜
Hope you enjoy these tips, and and share your growth hacks in the comments below!
Ramsesx reacted to Joel R for an entry, Rewards & Reinforcement: Delivering Member Greatness in Online Communities
Bad communities promise great things to its members. Good communities offer great things to its members. Great communities fulfill the greatness of its members.
A primary purpose of every community is to fulfill the needs of its members. A strong community will go beyond the immediate, basic needs and ensure that fulfillment is a positive experience. By doing so, it builds in positive rewards and reinforcement for an enjoyable sense of togetherness.
One of the cornerstone ideas of behavioral sciences is reinforcement: delivering a positive experience to members through multiple dimensions. Why they come, why the stay, and how to fulfill those needs is our third element of Sense of Community: Rewards & Reinforcement. Discover all the ways to fulfill member needs for your Invision Community.
Fulfillment of Functional Needs
Your community must have a clear and unique purpose. Your community must offer something valuable. And your community must solve a problem.
This is the prime reason why a user would visit you in the first place and how you fulfill his most basic needs. He searches for a question, and your community provides the answer. Many communities build up their expertise through two ways:
Crowd-source community solutions - You can highlight community-driven solutions in Invision Community to curate attention to the best answers. Two of the most underutilized features are Content Messages and Recommended Replies, which allow moderators to showcase and explain great user content. Bring experts into the community – Authoritative content should be posted and marked separately from regular user content. You can accomplish this by giving experts a dedicated Blog, authorship in Pages, or enabling Post highlights. Fulfillment of Personal Needs
Beyond the fulfillment of basics needs, users want other wishes and desires. It’s impossible to identify all personal needs, but here are three of the biggest ones why users come together more:
Group Status – People like to be on the “winning team,” and community success brings group members closer together. Highlight community success in your monthly newsletter or topic announcements. Competence – People are attracted to others with skills or competence. Introduce superusers and subject matter experts (SMEs) through interviews, team talk, or AMA topics ("ask me anything"). Rewards – Behavioral research shows that users gravitate toward groups that offer more rewards. Use tools like the Leaderboard, Group rank, Badges, and Reputation for extrinsic motivation that excite users and make them feel special. Fulfillment of Shared Values
Society and our upbringing instruct us in a set of shared values. We bring those values into our online communities because they provide a framework of how to address our emotional and personal needs and the priority in which we address them. When users with shared values come together, they’re more receptive to helping others with the same value system:
A Values Statement: Make it a point to identify the shared values in your community, in Guidelines or on a separate page. Affirm those principles in your interactions and, in difficult situations, frame your decision by referencing your community values. Private communities with high engagement usually have the strongest statements of values. Process vs. Outcome: How you answer is just as important as the answer. If you run a community that is technical, offers customer support, or involves lots of questions-and-answers, the process by which you arrive at the solution can help other users troubleshoot similar but different problems. Reinforce the solving process, and you’ll discover users will feel better about sharing their knowledge even if they don’t know the exact answer. Fulfillment by Networking
Groups will naturally coalesce into smaller groups, as people find other people that they enjoy and who fulfill their own needs. Strong communities find ways to fit people together.
Multiply Relationships: The sooner you can build relationships among members, the stronger those members will feel towards your community. In my community, I’ve created an “Ambassador” task force that welcomes new members to build personal relationships as soon as possible. Be a Networker: One of the virtues of being a community manager is that you’re normally introduced to the greatest number of people. Use your personal network within the community to connect two users together, bring other users into a conversion, or tap the expertise of others to help answer user questions. CONCLUSION
There’s an Arabian proverb that says, “A promise is a cloud, fulfillment is rain.”
Make it rain. Find ways to fulfill the greatness of your members, unleash a tidal wave of rewards and reinforcement that touch upon all the functional, personal, communal, and social needs of your members in the ultimate approach to member fulfillment. Build not just a good community, but a great one.
Ramsesx reacted to Joel R for an entry, 4x4 What Do Visitors See When They Visit?
What do visitors see when they visit your online community? And when was the last time you logged out to browse like a visitor?
Check out these 4x4 tips of four items in less than four minutes for the visitor experience:
Check your Registration Process, especially any social sign-ins. You may want to increase or reduce security checks. You may need to fix social logins. And you may want to offer an easier onboarding like Quick Registration + Profile Completion. Read your Guest Sign-up Widget. This is the most important text in your entire community, since it's the first message visitors will read. Is your Guest Signup Widget giving visitors the first impression you'd like, with proper keywords and messaging? Audit your Visitor Permissions. In the ACP, go to Groups > Guests > Permissions. Do your guests have access to the right boards and categories? Test on other browsers and devices. Most of us don't have ten different computers and smartphones running different OS's and browsers, so it can be hard to check the UIX. Luckily, there are free cross-browser tools like BrowserShots.org or Device Mode on Chrome Devtools that can help. Hope you enjoy these tips, and if you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments below.
Ramsesx reacted to Matt for an entry, CrossFit suspends Facebook and Instagram accounts
A month ago, CrossFit, Inc. posted a scathing blog entry outlining why they made the decision to quit Facebook and Instagram.
I first came across CrossFit back in early 2007 when I was looking for new ways to improve my fitness. Their fitness programming was a breath of fresh air. Most workouts were based around either long cardio workouts such as running or traditional gym workouts with weights and machines.
CrossFit successfully combined the two into a short intense workout which gained popularity very quickly.
I was a fan immediately and followed the WODs (workout of the day) as closely as possible and watched the early CrossFit stars emerge.
CrossFit, Inc. is very strong-minded. Their press release cites several reasons for their abandonment of the Facebook platform.
They also expand on this and believe that "Facebook collaborates with government security agencies on massive citizen surveillance programs such as PRISM", "Facebook, as a matter of business and principle, has weak intellectual property protections and is slow to close down IP theft accounts." and "Facebook has poor security protocols and has been subject to the largest security breaches of user data in history."
It's certainly a bold move.
CrossFit does have a legacy forum system which dates back from its early days which gets some use still.
I think that investing in that community platform through modernisation along with a solid community building strategy could pay dividends in them taking back control of their conversation without fear of falling foul of any heavy-handed moderation beyond their control.
Modern community platforms like ours have plenty of tools to automate basic moderation, encourage more engagement and work well on mobile devices.
CrossFit, Inc join Lush Cosmetics as high profile brands that have taken themselves off Facebook completely.
Do you think we'll see a resurgence of owned-communities?
Ramsesx reacted to HelenG for an entry, How I Started My Community - Part 3 Growth
When I wrote my last entry, The Dogly Mail had just reached the 100 member milestone but since then things have grown impressively.
The photo competition has proven very successful at encouraging new signups and we are now at around 1400 members picking up 15-20 new members a day. This is far better than I could have hoped for but there a few caveats…
Not all traffic and content is equal
In building website traffic I’ve realised that high member numbers are great and help to validate your ideas but member quality is far more important. I have been able to boost the member growth non-organically with a minimal Facebook ad spend in conjunction with the competition but we’re still trying to find those super contributors.
The members we have are not yet invested in the site themselves and the sense of community that is required to be sustainable long term is still in its infancy. We have also found that with the opt-in mailing list, around 50% of the registered members are signing up for the newsletter during registration.
This is encouraging to me based on the non-organic growth so hopefully, with more organic growth this will rise further.
What are we doing to get higher quality contributions?
We are collaborating with a vet on professional articles to give the site more credibility in the areas I am not an expert in and Andy is covering dog news where he has time. Hopefully, over the long term, this will help to improve the organic traffic to the website.
With the articles, we now have high-end long-form content covered although I would like to get a more varied team of writers on board to broaden the appeal of the subject matter. We also have more fun commenting, likes and meme social interaction covered in the photo competition section.
This leaves a gap in the middle for more serious user-contributed discussion and opinion and what ultimately will make or break the website. For this, we’re working on getting the blogs application ready for when we feel the traffic is sufficient to launch another area. When it’s ready we will slowly transition the ad spend towards the new blog section and forums to provide more balanced traffic coming to the site.
We will also be able to promote the new sections via the newsletter.
I am almost at the end of the school year so my time on the site should increase and I can get more involved with discussion topics to try and foster that sense of community.
What else have I learned?
Keeping people’s attention is not easy and once a member has left the site you need to work really hard to get them to revisit. It’s something I read a lot of on these forums so hopefully, Invision is working on this to help us keep people engaged.
As you can see we’re still in the try lots of things to see what works stage but the learning experience is part of the fun. We were running AdSense ads and getting a little back from the spend we were doing ourselves but I feel at this stage it is counter-productive.
We have decided to stop AdSense for the time being in order to concentrate on building traffic and the membership and will revisit the monetisation options once the site has grown. Not running the adverts has also given the site a substantial speed boost which will hopefully help us with organic rankings.
If you’re running your community as a hobby you may not wish to spend anything on advertising to start and may prefer to slowly add to your website content. With so much competition for traffic online though this would be a very slow strategy for us for what I still hope to be a commercially viable micro business.
On the current growth path, I hope to be profitable in 12-18 months and will keep you updated with the highs or lows along the way.
Ramsesx reacted to Guest Writer for an entry, Case Study: Building Safe Spaces for The Trevor Project
Every day, LGBTQ young people from all walks of life log into TrevorSpace, the world’s largest moderated safe space for LGBTQ youth online.
Here, young people can support each other, share their stories, and find refuge from what might be a less than accepting environment offline.
Launched in 2008, TrevorSpace is housed under The Trevor Project, the foremost suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth in the world. Having an affirming digital community has been an indispensable resource for the youth The Trevor Project aims to protect, but guiding it to the success it enjoys today has had its challenges.
Shortly after its launch, TrevorSpace rapidly grew to serve tens of thousands of users in just a few years. While the platform initially started on commercial community software, some unique requirements led the organization to go custom, building a community platform from the ground up.
Faced with increasing hosting and development costs and declining user activity, senior leadership faced a tough decision: either dramatically transform the program, or discontinue it altogether. That’s when Invision Community stepped in.
“We were already planning a digital transformation, replacing everything from our physical computers to our crisis services software infrastructure, the platforms that young people use to reach out to us, like TrevorLifeline, TrevorChat, and TrevorText,” John Callery, director of technology at The Trevor Project said of the challenges facing the organization at the time. “We had to be very careful with our resources and where we allocated our time.”
Continuing the TrevorSpace program would mean The Trevor Project needed to move to a solution that could be implemented and managed with very limited resources while still providing the quality of care that the community had come to expect. It also meant meeting the specific needs of the organization’s mission, particularly around safety.
After looking into the Invision Community platform per the suggestion of a team member, it became clear that they had all of the fundamentals TrevorSpace was looking for, like messages boards, social networking, and private messaging.
Here was a chance to save the platform.
Customers rarely have the opportunity to meet the people behind the technology they use. This wasn’t the case for The Trevor Project and the Invision Community team, who made it clear they believed in our mission to support LGBTQ youth in crisis and were willing to partner with us to realize our specific needs and figure out new solutions.
Through utilizing the Invision Community team’s applications and plugins, we were able to meet all of our community’s custom needs, adding functionality unique to TrevorSpace to protect our users, many of whom are especially vulnerable when it comes to their privacy. None of this would have been possible without the incredible support of the Invision Community team.
For just one example of how crucial TrevorSpace is to young LGBTQ people around the world, listen to Mani Cavalieri, the community’s product manager: “When the most prevalent forms of social media are so enmeshed with our in-person relationships, LGBTQ youth often lose a safe place to explore their identities. TrevorSpace is one of those special communities that balances anonymity (often a necessity for safety) with real, personal connections.” Since joining the team, Mani has already seen multiple instances of users finding lifelong friends - and even partners - over the years on TrevorSpace - and on the Invision Community platform, it is able to reach more users than ever before.
In January 2018, TrevorSpace received double the number of registrations than any other month in the program’s 10-year history. We continue to see more than a thousand new registered members each week.
As we begin international promotion of the program, we expect to break many more records in the coming year. As we continue to grow TrevorSpace, we also continue to rely on Invision Community’s extensibility.
Our mission is to improve support networks and mental resilience for our users. This requires us to understand our users’ behavior and needs from a different perspective than other online communities, and it will continue to require more custom solutions.
The marketplace of plugins, as well as the enthusiastic support of the Invision Community team, enable us to be bold in our ambitions, to build out a community that is truly unique in its class, and to improve the lives of those that need a supportive community the most.
As one user puts in, in their welcome message to each newcomer: “That's our little secret - there's some one here, going through what you're going through. Whether that be mental health, body issues, parents, friends, and whatever else life as someone who's LGBTQ+ can throw at you. Reach out, and someone will be there for you.”
- This entry was written by The Trevor Project team
Ramsesx reacted to Joel R for an entry, 10 Tips For Converting from vBulletin to Invision Community
Are you a vBulletin admin looking to stay on the leading edge of online communities?
As an IPS client who frequents the Invision Community support forums on a daily basis, I often run across existing or former vBulletin admins looking to migrate to IPS. In fact, based on my not-so-scientific survey, vBulletin is one of the most popular platforms from where admins migrate. Many of the vBulletin users are professional administrators looking for a stable company, rapid development, and a trusted platform to power their communities into the future.
I interviewed 6 former vBulletin admins who are now Invision Community clients. Most of these vBulletin admins have 10+ years of experience running successful forums, so their input was especially insightful.
“I love the design of the admin and moderation back-end, a real treat after living with the antiquated and confusing vBulletin back-end.” -- @cfish
“I like the well-thought concept, the details, and abundance of features and functions.” --@Ramsesx
I’ve compiled the top 10 questions and answers from their interviews and the forums specifically for vBulletin admins for an insider’s perspective on how to convert from vBulletin to Invision Community. You can also read their full interviews in my Community Guide attached at the bottom.
10. What is the typical lifecycle of Invision Community and what new features come out?
Invision Community is currently on 4.4. It’s a great time to be migrating as both the software and converter are very mature. You’ll be able to take advantage of all the new features from Invision Community 4.x such as Social Clubs, Subscriptions, SEO updates, and GDPR updates.
In general, IPS publishes one major update like 4.4 once a year, with several bug fixes, security updates, and enhancements throughout the year. The best place to read about Product Updates is the official IPS Blog in Product Updates.
9. What are the pricing options and how do they compare to vBulletin?
IPS is comparable in pricing when compared to vBulletin depending on your choice of apps. The self-hosted option is cheaper when considering support and upgrades.
The pricing for an active license is simple, easy, and comprehensive. A new license includes professional ticket support, forum support, access to new upgrades, and managed spam service for 6 months. Renew again in six months to continue those benefits. If you choose not to renew, your software will continue to work.
8. Is the software mobile ready like vBulletin?
Yes, the software is responsive by design. This means the community naturally fits and beautifully displays in any device size, giving you a consistent look-and-feel across all devices. Try it now by resizing your window!
It also means you don’t need to pay for any extra “mobile bundles.” This approach to mobile design was one of the reasons why @cfish chose IPS: “I didn’t like vBulletin’s approach to mobile. The IPS approach to responsive web design was inline with my own thinking.”
7. What are the official Invision Community apps and how do they compare to vBulletin?
@Steve Bullman converted to IPS because “IPS seemed to offer a better all-round package for what I needed.” One of the biggest reasons for considering IPS is a broader approach to community. Whereas vBulletin focuses only on Forums and Blogs, IPS empowers you to build a suite of applications customized to your needs. Mix and match apps like Gallery, Blogs, Downloads, Pages, and Commerce to build a modern community with resource directories, databases, paid subscriptions, albums and more that go beyond forums.
You can read more about the apps in Features. Calendar and Clubs are included for free!
6. What will be migrated from vBulletin?
The free converter app will migrate all of your member and content items from vBulletin 3.8.x, 4.x, and 5.x. This includes members, private messages, member groups, ranks, forums, topics, posts, and attachments. You can view the full list on Migrate and choose your vBulletin version from the list of choices.
Obviously, you will not be able to migrate any custom themes or custom modifications. @ChristForums adds, “I wish I had known that the converter was so easy to use and migrate from Vbulletin 5.”
5. What are the channels for support?
Every active license comes with professional ticket support, which should always be your first source of contact. @Markus Jung highlights “fast support” as the item he appreciates the most about his license. You can also obtain help from the community forums, help guides, release notes, and other public resources.
If you’re not an IPS client yet, you can post in Pre-Sales forum or email email@example.com.
4. How do I prepare my community?
The six admins that I interviewed offered several tips for new Invision Community owners. Prior to the conversion, you should read through the converter package to see what will convert and redirect. You should purchase other Invision Community apps in advance to fully convert vBulletin items as needed; not delete any old content since Invision Community includes an archive function; and not make drastic changes to allow members a chance to become accustomed to the new forum.
3. What will happen to my traffic and URL redirects?
The free converter app will redirect your existing URLs. This includes forums, topics, posts, member profiles, print view pages, archived content, attachments, and tags. You need to leave your converter installed after migration to ensure the redirects will work.
AlexWebsites wrote, “the converter came with built-in redirects and I was able to redirect most of my traffic. Traffic recovered within a few months.”
2. What are the server configuration and database requirements?
If you choose cloud, then Invision Community will manage the hosting.
If you choose on-premise, you can use the free ‘Get Ready’ compatibility file to check your server. The latest version of Invision Community 4.4 requires:
PHP 7.1.0 or higher (7.3.x is supported) MySQL 5.5.3 or higher (5.6.2 recommended). 1. How stable is the company?
Other companies lost their development talent. Other companies were bought and sold by multi-media conglomerates. Other companies have a history of lawsuits.
Through it all, Charles, Lindy and Matt have been here since the beginning providing steady leadership to Invision Communities everywhere. If you’re looking for stability, it’s nice to know you can rely on the same people who started the company. For serious and professional vBulletin admins looking to transition, you know you’re not just buying into the software, but investing in the development team, staff, and platform for years to come. Ramsesx shared his personal story: “I always prefer the best for my community from where I earn my income. An important aspect was the longtime outlook. Invision Community gave me the feeling of being trustworthy, they are more than 17 years in the forum software market.”
It’s no wonder that so many successful vBulletin admins feel the same after moving to Invision Community. You get stability, years of experience, a deep understanding of online communities, and a dedication to development that continues to innovate. It’s time to bring your vBulletin community over to Invision Community!
Bookmark this page for future reference and download the Community Guide for experiences from real clients who converted from vBulletin. Much appreciation to @AlexWebsites @cfish @Christforums @Markus Jung @Ramsesx @Steve Bullman for participating in the interviews.
- Joel R
Community Guide vBulletin Migration to Invision Community.pdf
Ramsesx reacted to bfarber for an entry, 4.4: Converter updates to make migrating to Invision Community even easier
We want to ensure that converting from your existing community platform to ours is as seamless as possible.
While we do have a migration service available where we take care of everything for you, we do also offer a DIY option.
We took some time to overhaul the conversion process for those opting to convert using our free tools.
Ready to convert?
So you've just purchased your first copy of Invision Community, and you're ready to convert your existing site over from another software package. Great! We're glad you've made the decision to take your community to the next level!
You've already checked out our Migrations page, confirmed the software you wish to convert from is supported, and you're confident in your ability to work through the process. You install the Converters package and you're ready to go.
Lets get started!
We have overhauled the converters to simplify the process. Beginning with 4.4, you will take the following steps to convert from another software package:
Rather than choose the application you wish to convert first, you will now choose what software you are converting from, which is a much more logical start to a conversion. Next, you will supply the database details for your source database (the database you wish to convert into your new Invision Community). Then, you will see a list of all applications that can be converted for the software package you are converting from. If any applications cannot be converted (perhaps because you were not previously using the corresponding application in your source software), a message will be shown indicating there is nothing to convert. If any steps require additional configuration, you will be able to specify those details here. And finally, when you submit that form - that's it! You're done, and you can sit back and let the conversion process on its own. Each step for each application will be completed automatically, and the conversion will be finalized automatically at the end. A progress bar will be shown, along with a textual indicator that outlines exactly what is being converted. What does it look like?
conversion.mp4 Here's a quick video to illustrate the new conversion process.
The system even remembers where you were at and automatically picks back up where you left off. Closing your browser, losing internet connectivity, or some other unforeseen issue won't stop you dead in your tracks and force you to start all over again.
We hope that these updates make it even easier to switch from another community platform.
Ramsesx reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.4: New Email Features
It's easy to think that email is a relic from the past; from simpler times long before social media and the rise of phone apps.
And it's reasonable to think that way. Your phone constantly pings at you, and your laptop OS constantly pings at you, so why bother with email?
Because it's still a hugely powerful medium to get and retain attention.
In 2017, over 269 billion emails were sent and received per day. Of those, 3,360,250,000 are opened, read, and a link clicked.
Email is still very much a critical tool in your quest for retention.
Invision Community knows this. We have options to notify members of replies by email, weekly or monthly digests by email and members can opt-in for bulk emails sent from your community team.
Given how important email is, it was only fair that we invested in some love for our email system for 4.4.
Just above, I mention that 269 billion emails are sent, and 3.4 billion are opened, read and clicked.
How many emails are sent from your Invision Community daily?
(No cheating and checking with SendGrid)
You probably have no idea as we didn't record email statistics.
As of Invision Community 4.4 we do!
Chart showing the number of emails sent daily
We now track emails sent, and the number of link clicks inside those emails.
Email notifications are a powerful way to get your members to revisit your community. The member welcomes these emails as it means they have new replies to topics they are interested in reading.
While you have your member's attention, you have an opportunity to show them a banner-style advertisement.
The new email advertisement form
When creating a new email advert, you can choose to limit the advert to specific areas such as topics, blogs, etc. - and even which forums to limit by.
This is a new way to reach your audience with your promotions.
Unfollow without logging in
Despite spending most of this blog entry shouting the virtues of email, it's inevitable that one or two members may wish to stop receiving notification emails.
In previous versions, the unfollow link would have taken you to a login page if you were signed out. For members that haven't been back in a while, this may cause some annoyance if they do not recall their login details.
Invision Community 4.4 allows non-logged in members to unfollow the item they received an email about or all followed items without the need to log in.
You no longer need to log in to unfollow items
Respecting your member's inbox is vital to keep on good terms with them and to keep them engaged in your community.
We'd love to know which of these features you're most keen to try in 4.4. Please drop a comment below and let us know!
Ramsesx reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.4: SEO Improvements
It's been said that the best place to hide a dead body is on page 2 of Google.
While we can't promise to get you to page 1 for a generic search term, we have taken some time for Invision Community 4.4 to do an SEO sweep.
Moz.com defines SEO as "a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. SEO encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines."
We have the technical skills and were fortunate enough to have Jono Alderson of Yoast lend his time, knowledge and vast experience to improve our SEO.
This blog article gets a little technical. It's completely fine to leave at this point with the comfort of knowing that Google will be a little happier on your site with Invision Community 4.4.
The majority of the changes are designed to send stronger signals to Google and friends over which content to slurp and which to look at a bit later.
Still here? Good. Let us roll up our sleeves and open the hood.
The most visible change is that we've taken pagination out of query strings and placed it in the path.
For example, the current pagination system looks a little like:
Which is fine but it gets a little confusing when you add in a bunch of sort filters like so:
A better approach would be to make a clear signal to both Google and humans that pagination is a separate thing.
Invision Community 4.4 does this:
Not only is this good for search engines, but it's also good for the humans too as it is more readable and no longer confused with filter parameters.
Of course, we ensure that the old style pagination is redirected (via a 301 header) to the new pagination URL automatically so nothing breaks.
These tags are a way of telling search engines that a specific URL is the 'master copy' of a page. This helps prevent duplicate content from being indexed.
Without it, you are leaving it up to the search engine to choose which is the master copy of the page.
yoursite.com/community/forums/123-forum/ and yoursite.com/community/forums/123-forum/?sort=desc&field=time may show the same content but have different URLs.
By setting the canonical tag to point to yoursite.com/community/forums/123-forum/ regardless of filters sends a strong signal to the search engines that this is the page you want to be spidered.
Invision Community sets these tags in many places, but we audited these in 4.4 and found a few areas where they were missing.
For example, viewing a member's profile doesn't always set a canonical tag which may confuse search engines when you click on "View Activity" and get a list of content items.
When an application or website wants to tell the visitor that the page they are looking for doesn't exist, it sends a 404 header code along with a page that says something "We could not find that item" or "No rows available".
If a search engine spiders a page that looks like a 404 page, but it doesn't have the 404 header code, it logs it as a "soft 404".
Given the short amount of time Google has on your site to discover new content, you don't want it to hit many soft 404s.
Invision Community 4.4 omits containers (such as forums, blogs, etc.) that have no content (such as a new forum without any topics yet) from the sitemap, and also adds a 'noindex, follow' meta tag into the HTML source.
Google will periodically check to see if the status of the page has changed and happily slurp away when content has been added.
Although the changes listed here don't deserve their own section in this article, they are no less important.
We have audited the new JSON-LD markup added to Invision Community 4.3 to help search engines better understand the relationship between pages.
The profile view in Invision Community contains a mix of information pertinent to the member and content they've authored.
We've ensured that the content areas are using a specific URL, with appropriate canonical tags. This will help reduce confusion for search engines.
If you made it this far, then well done. It's time to slam the hood closed and mop our collective brows.
These changes will certainly help Google and friends spider your site a little more efficiently and have a clearer idea about what pages and data you want to be indexed which can only improve your ranking.
Ramsesx reacted to Matt for an entry, 16 Community ideas to ring in the holidays
Outside your window, the leaves have burst into fiery reds and oranges. A crisp breeze floats in the air. The birds have long chirped their good-byes.
And you’re sipping a hot cup of apple cider, contemplating the change in season.
The holidays are almost here.
The end of the year is one of the best chances to take stock your community and provide an emotive experience for your members. It’s a chance to reflect upon what you learned, what new initiatives you started, and what you still have ahead of you. It’s a chance to provide a sense of closure to the year and to ignite one more burst of community-wide goodwill. In short, the holiday season is an amazing opportunity to bring your community together one last time in 2018.
Here are 16 ideas for the holidays in four categories. Try to select at least one idea from each category for a holiday plan that runs the gamut of the community experience. Choose the ones that you especially like; gather your staff members to brainstorm; and put together a plan that’ll navigate you better than Santa’s reindeer through the holidays!
One of the easiest and simplest things you can do is to update your community’s design for the holiday to provide an immediate visual impact. Users love to see fun twists on your theme.
1. Tweak your logo with falling snow or twinkling lights.
2. Replace your forum icons with holiday ones.
3. Go bold and install a whole new holiday theme from the Marketplace.
4. Coordinate the holiday design across all of your social media and web properties.
Your 2018 was filled with emotional triumphs and tribulations. Did your community accomplish something great? How many new members did you welcome? Did you lose any members? Create a shared experience that binds and connects your community closer together.
1. Craft a year-end mailer that chronicles your community’s victories and struggles.
2. Post a “Did You Remember This?” topic that reconnects with all the funniest, informative, and most poignant topics.
3. Edit a “Top Moments of 2018” montage that highlights the biggest events that transformed your community in the past year.
4. Memorialize members who have moved on or departed your community.
Holidays are all about demonstrating appreciation for your loved ones, and your community is no different. Take the time to demonstrate an authentic and warm appreciation for all members who have shared the past year with you.
1. Promote new users who have done a superb job of supporting the community over the year.
2. Send out physical or digital gifts as a token of your appreciation to key members.
3. Write individualized messages for every staff member that highlights their wonderful contributions.
4. Send a thank-you note to Invision Community in the comments below on how using Invision Community has helped propel your community’s growth in 2018.
Finally, the holidays are a season of celebration. Spread tidings of joy and merriment to all members in your community, social media, and offline for all-around cheer.
1. Count down to the holidays with different daily announcement using the Announcements feature.
2. Write a year-end “2018 Celebration Message” mailer to applaud all the great events from 2018
3. Host a winter giveaway with special holiday packages or gifts.
4. Throw a holiday party as a meet-up, using Calendar and Venues, to mingle with your members in person.
Reconnect your members one more time in 2018 with a rich and shared story of the past year. The holidays are an intensely emotional time that can provide an occasion for remembrance, an occasion for appreciation, and most of all, an occasion of celebration of all great things that have happened and are yet to come. Let your community be the gift that keeps on giving.
Happy holidays to all Invision Community clients, and may your winter holidays be filled with joyous cheer and community friendship!
Joel R is a mystery wrapped inside an enigma. When he's not running his own successful community, he's peppering Invision Community's private Slack channel with his feedback, community management experience and increasingly outrageous demands (everything is true except the last part).
Ramsesx reacted to bfarber for an entry, 4.4: Extend Invision Community with the REST API
Ever since its first release, the REST API built into the Invision Community software has proven to be a very powerful and well-received feature.
We love seeing what our clients and modification authors are able to do with the level of integration afforded to them through this capability, and so it is only natural that we have looked to expand the functionality in our upcoming 4.4 release.
Beginning with 4.4, you will now be able to create and update polls for both topics and blog entries through the REST API. Of course, modification authors can use this new endpoint.
You will also now be able to manage warn reasons through the REST API. This includes fetching a list of reasons, as well as fetching an individual reason, creating warn reasons, updating existing warn reasons, and deleting warn reasons.
Event venues can now be listed and individual venues fetched through the REST API, and you can now add, update and delete event venues through the REST API.
You can now retrieve a list of notifications for a specific member through the REST API, useful if you were to attempt to recreate the notifications menu on a third party website (for example).
The REST API will now expose the warnings a user has received through a new endpoint. Additionally, you can fetch individual warnings, issue new warnings, undo and/or delete issued warnings, and acknowledge warnings through the REST API. If you are building a site wrapper around your community, you can leverage this functionality to ensure that users are unable to post elsewhere on your site if they have unacknowledged warnings within the community (and also to provide them with a way to acknowledge those warnings right on your site).
The REST API Reference
Beginning with 4.4, you will now be able to set the permissions for a node when adding or updating it through the REST API (for example, you can now adjust the permissions for a forum or a downloads category through the REST API). Many clients noticed that while they could create new nodes through the API, the nodes would be unusable until an administrator manually went in and specified the permissions, so this change can eliminate this extra step in many situations.
You will now also be able to filter the events you pull through the Calendar REST API endpoints by start and end date (e.g. so you can show events within a specific time frame, such as the current week), and you can now also specify to sort the events returned by the event start date or the event end date.
And finally, for those who leverage clubs on their communities, we have built in full REST API support for clubs. You can list all clubs, return a specific club, create new clubs, update existing clubs, and delete clubs through the REST API. Further, you can list all members in a club, add a specific member to a specific club, remove a member from a club, fetch the content types available for use within a club (i.e. so you can determine which applications are installed and have club support on a given site), fetch the nodes (displayed as tabs/sections within a club) created within a club, and delete nodes from a club. Important behind the scenes steps, such as generating invoices for members requesting to join paid clubs, are all handled automatically for you when using the REST API.
We believe these changes will help clients better integrate with our software and open up new possibilities with their websites.
Would you like us to add any other endpoints? Let us know in the comments below!
Ramsesx reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.4: Turbo charging loading speeds
It might seem a little odd starting a blog on increasing Invision Community's speed with the word "lazy", but I'll explain why this is a good word for performance shortly.
Earlier this year, Google announced that page speed is a ranking factor.
Simply put, if your site is slow, it will be ranked lower in Google's search results.
It is always a challenge making a large application like Invision Community as efficient as possible per page load. A single Invision Community page can pull in widgets from multiple applications as well as a lot of user-generated content with attachments, movies and images used heavily.
This is where being lazy helps.
Lazy loading is a method by which attachments, embeds and images are not loaded by default. They are only loaded when the viewer scrolls down enough to make them visible.
This allows the page to load a good deal faster now it doesn't have to load megabytes of images before the page is shown as completely rendered.
I was going to take a fancy video showing it in action, but it's hard to capture as the system loads the media just before you get to it, so it looks fairly seamless, even with sluggish connections.
Not the most dynamic image, but this shows the placeholder retains the size of the image
In addition to image attachments, we have also added this lazy loading to maps and Twitter emoji images.
Improving non-image attachments
Once we had implemented the lazy loading framework, an area we wanted to improve was non-image attachments.
We have listened to a lot of the feedback we had on this area, and have now made it very clear when you add an attachment into a post. We've even returned the download count now it's being loaded on demand.
Using attachments when posting
All the letters
When we first implemented the letter avatars in 4.3, we discussed whether to use CSS styling or use an image.
We decided to go with an image as it was more stable over lots of different devices, including email.
We've revisited this in 4.4, and switched the letter avatars to SVG, which are much faster to render now that the browser doesn't have to load the image files.
Other performance improvements
We've taken a pass at most areas with an eye for performance, here is a list of the most significant items we've improved.
Several converter background tasks have been improved, so they work on less data Duplicate query for fetching clubs was removed in streams Notifications / follower management has been improved Member searches have been sped up (API, ACP live search, member list in ACP, mentions, etc.). Stream performance has been improved UTF8 conversions have been sped up Elasticsearch has been sped up by using pre-compiled queries and parameterisation, as well as the removal of view filtering (and tracking) HTTP/2 support with prefetch/preload has been added Several PHP-level performance improvements have been made Implemented rel=noopener when links open a new window (which improves browser memory management) Several other performance improvements for conversions were implemented that drastically reduce conversion time IP address lookups now fetch IP address details from us en-masse instead of one request per address Cache/data store management has been streamlined and centralised for efficiency Many background tasks and the profile sync functionality have all been improved for performance Brotli compression is now supported automatically if the server supports it Redis encryption can now be disabled if desired, which improves performance Phew, as you can see, we've spent a while tinkering under the hood too.
We'd love to hear your thoughts. Let us know below!
This blog is part of our series introducing new features for Invision Community 4.4.
Ramsesx reacted to Mark for an entry, 4.4: Increase visitor registrations with Post Before Registering
It's very easy to focus on a single metric to gauge the success of your community.
It's very common for community owners to look at page hits and determine if their SEO and marketing efforts have paid off.
Getting traffic to your site is only half the equation though. The most valuable metric is how many casual visitors you're converting to engaged members.
Invision Community already makes it easy for guests to sign up using external services such as Facebook, Twitter and Google.
However, there has to be a conscious decision to click that sign-up button. For some, this may be a barrier too many.
Invision Community 4.4 reduces this barrier by allowing guests to create a post to a topic they want to engage with.
Once they have posted, they are asked to simply complete their registration. They are more likely to do this now they have invested in your community.
This will be incredibly valuable when you consider how much traffic a forum receives from inbound Google searches. With Post Before Registering, you'll increase your chances of turning that inbound lead into a registered member contributing to your site.
Let me take you through the feature and show you how it works.
When browsing the community guests will see the ability to submit a post, with an explanation that they can post now and complete registration later. The only thing they have to provide in addition to their post is an email address.
Posting as a guest
This works in any application for new content (topics, Gallery images, etc.) as well as comments and reviews. It will only show when a newly registered member would be able to post in that area - for example, it will not show in a forum that only administrators can post in.
After submitting the post, the post will not be visible to any user, but the user will immediately be redirected to the registration form with an explanation to complete the registration. The email address they provided will already be filled in.
Registration form after posting as a guest
At this point, the user can either fill in the registration form, or use a social sign in method like Facebook or Twitter to create an account. After the account has been created, and validation has been completed if necessary, their post will automatically be made visible just as if they had registered and then posted.
If the user abandons the registration after they've submitted their post, an email will be sent to them to remind them to complete the registration.
Email reminding user to finish registering
Invision Community already has a feature that allows guests to post as guests without registration if granted permission. That feature has not been removed and so if you already allow guests to post, the behaviour will not change. This new feature is only available when a guest can't post in a given area, but a member would be able to. The entire feature can also be turned off if undesired. If the area the guest is posting in requires moderator approval, or newly registered members require approval of new posts, the post will enter the moderation queue as normal once their account has been created. Third party applications will require minor updates to support this feature. Once your casual visitor has invested time in your community by crafting a post, they are much more likely to finish the registration to get it posted. If you have set up external log in methods, then registration only takes a few more clicks.
This blog is part of our series introducing new features for Invision Community 4.4.
Ramsesx reacted to Matt for an entry, 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.
How do you know what you don’t know?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Ramsesx reacted to Matt for an entry, Guest Blog: How to incorporate new features into your community
Today, we're handing over our blog to long time client and friend to Invision Community, Joel R.
@Joel R is often found hanging out in our community offering his insight and wisdom when he's not harassing the team in Slack.
Over to Joel.
Invision Community releases a variety of blockbuster features in every major update, which usually hits once a year. You may think those updates are not enough (it’s never enough!), but I wanted to spend some time talking about how to survey and incorporate those features into your community systematically.
This blog post is not about any specific feature, but more a general and philosophical approach in integrating the newest features. My goal is to help you get the most out of every new IPS update!
You may think that many of the features in the updates are easy to assess. You either want them or don’t. But it’s not that easy.
I was inspired by some recent personal experiences when I found myself revisiting features from 4.2 and earlier. I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I still had so much to experience and learn from those features, all of which I had previously reviewed when they were initially released. Invision Community comes packed with rich features, and no community manager is expected to be a master at everything. But a systematic approach is your best chance at making sure you get the most out of every feature.
To give a personal example, I jumped into Social Media Promotion when it first came out in 4.2. The new Social Media Promotion offers several powerful tools for social media cross-posting, and I immediately wanted to learn how I could use it to cross-post content to my Facebook and Twitter accounts. It’s an easy drop-in replacement for services like Hootsuite or Windscribe and allows community managers to drip interesting content to their social media pages for constant advertising and social engagement.
Well, it turns out my Facebook and Twitter reach is nil because I have no followers (wish I was more Internet famous!), so I soon lost interest and dropped Social Media Promotion as a tool.
A couple of months ago, I was assessing my homepage versus other popular websites when I came across a startling realization: I could make a gorgeously visual homepage on par with Instagram using Our Picks – a feature of Social Media Promotion.
I would intentionally ignore the social media component, but use the other component of Our Picks for a beautiful new homepage. The context of using Our Picks for a homepage opened my eyes to a whole new way to evaluate Social Media Promotion, and what was once a feature on the back burner is now – literally - the front page of my Invision community. I love it!
To help you incorporate new Invision features, I’ve brainstormed 5 strategies on how to make the most out of Invision feature updates. Each strategy comes with a mini-lesson for an action plan.
1. Learn the knowledge, not the feature.
This is my personal motto when Invision Community releases a new feature. I’m more concerned about the knowledge and broader usage of the feature than implementing the feature itself: What’s the potential scope of the feature? In what context could the feature be used? How did Invision Community intend for the future to be used, and what are other ways it can be used?
I’ve never worried about the technical configuration of the feature. You enable or disable some settings, and that’s it. But what’s more important is how the functionality can best be integrated and in what context. You never know when you might come back to the feature for the next great idea, and you can only do that if you possess the knowledge and application behind the feature.
Lesson: Try every feature at least once, even if you don’t need it.
2. When at first you don’t succeed, take a nap.
Some things take a while to think about. Don’t try to cram through all new Invision Community features. There’s too many to digest in one pass.
Assess the features you’re most interested in one by one, play with each feature until you’re satisfied, test them, find out how they work, and when you get frustrated, take a nap. Eat some ice cream. Go jogging. And revisit in a month. The bigger the feature, the longer you should think about it.
The biggest “aha” moments didn’t come to me right away. When you try to rush through a feature, you can get rushed results. Take your time to bounce ideas around your head and try to think through the context of how to best utilize the feature.
Lesson: For features that you like, set a calendar to revisit after a month. Then take a nap.
3. You’re running the marathon, not a sprint.
Successful community managers have evolved with the changing needs of our audiences. While our mission remains the same, the backdrop of user expectations and digital trends has dramatically changed.
When you implement a feature, you should be evaluating it for both sustainability and longevity.
Is this a sustainable mechanism to keep up with?
Is this something that I want to continue for the foreseeable future?
It’s nice to play with new features; every major update is like a Christmas unwrapping of new features. But you need to prudently pick-and-choose which feature is most appropriate and how it can give you an impact for the long-term. Sometimes it’s better to do a few things very well than many things not well at all.
Lesson: Ask yourself if you see yourself using the feature 3 years later?
4. Make it uniquely yours
Invision Community ships with default features ready to use out of the box, but those features are just that: default. We like to dress up our theme with custom colors, designs, and logos. You should apply the same flair for customization with your features.
Some features are ready to be customized: reactions, ranks, and group promotion. Others, however, might take more thinking. Here are some examples to spark your creativity:
• Social Sign-in Streamline – are you using the default message, or did you customize it with a unique and clever introduction?
• Fluid Forum – did you activate fluid forum and hope it went well? Or did you use it as an opportunity to re-analyze your entire forum structure for the modern web?
• Leaderboard – did you leave it as a Leaderboard, or could it be Genius board for a technology company, or Joyboard for a nonprofit, or Loyaltyboard for a consumer brand?
Lesson: Make the feature uniquely yours.
5. Talk through your scenario
Every battle-tested community manager knows that the only thing constant is change – whether it’s our forum software, ACP settings, user expectations, and broader digital trends. It’s important to find a trusted circle of friends and users who can help you steer and implement features. It may sound great in your head, but other users may look at it very differently.
On my site, I have a trusted group of users called “Champions.” In my pre-planning stage, I float my ideas by them as early in the process as possible. They’ve provided valuable feedback of user expectations with differing perspectives. I’ve nixed certain features based on their veto, and I’ve tweaked continuously based upon their continuous input. Talk through your scenario with your trusted friends, and not just with the voices in your own head!
Community management is such a uniquely rewarding and challenging role because every community demands and needs a different set of features. Invision makes it easy with regular releases of exciting features, but you also need to make the most out of those features on your own. Don’t just turn on the next feature: turn on excitement, joy, and community.
If you notice, I didn’t include a lesson yet in my last strategy when you’re ready to talk about your scenario. And that’s because it’s the ultimate lesson:
Write the next guest post in the Invision Community Blog and share your own success story in how you adopted a new Invision feature. We’d love to hear about it.
We love this angle on how to best evaluate the myriad of opportunities the Invision Community software allows.
What is your biggest take-away from Joel's advice?
Ramsesx reacted to Matt for an entry, Video Tip: ACP Tips and Tricks
Work smarter, not harder is a motto we hear a lot of in our modern age.
This is of course great advice. Invision Community's Admin CP is packed full of tools and settings to help you configure your community to your needs.
In this short video I show you how you can work smarter in the Admin CP.
I show you how create a dashboard perfect for your needs. The dashboard is perfect to show a snapshot of what is happening with your community.
The search bar is the most powerful tool in the Admin CP. From finding members, settings and Commerce tickets, it's something I reach for every day.
Re-order the Menu
Prioritise the menu to put often used sections of the Admin CP within easy reach.
With a few clicks, you can copy a single setting from a forum across multiple. This saves a lot of time moving between the forum list and forum settings. This of course works across the suite including downloads, blogs and more.
Got a forum or blog category set up perfectly and want to add one more like it? Just hit the copy button and save the hassle of filling in the form again.
These are our tips for using the Admin CP as effectively as possible. Do you have any tips? Let us know below!
Ramsesx reacted to Matt for an entry, Video Tip: Create a homepage in under 5 minutes with Pages
We often get asked how to create a portal-like home page for a community.
A homepage has many benefits including:
Showing your best content first
By using the "Our Picks" blocks, you can display your best content first. This content sets the tone for the site and will encourage engagement across your site.
Display multiple areas of the suite
Each application has its own feed blocks that can be used to display content on the home page. If your members use Gallery heavily, then showcase those photos on the homepage. If you use Calendar a lot to schedule events, then show event feeds.
By displaying feeds to content is a great way to showcase all areas of your site on a single page.
For those of us that grew up with forums are used to viewing a list of categories and forums. We find it easy to scan the list of forums and dip into the ones that interest us.
For those that are not so familiar, a homepage displaying easily accessible content reduces the confusion and invites true content discovery.
In this short video, we show you how to create a homepage in under 5 minutes using the Pages app.
Pages is available with all Cloud plans and is available to purchase when buying a self-hosting license.
This video shows:
How to set Pages as the default application How to create a Page Builder page How to configure blocks to fine tune the feeds As you can see, it's a straightforward task, and you do not need to know any programming or design to create a compelling homepage.
Do you have a homepage like this? We'd love to see it!
Ramsesx reacted to Matt for an entry, How to cultivate a positive community
A positive community is a wonderful thing. It's fun to read and almost irresistible to join. You instantly feel welcomed and quickly make new friends.
Carefully managed communities tend to be respectful. Individuals may occasionally argue and disagree, but these are short term incidences that do not affect the community.
Is this by chance or by design?
Your role as a community leader will make all the difference in how your members react to each other. Your community boundaries will have a direct impact in the number troublemakers that infiltrate your community.
I'm sure you've come across trolls and troublemakers on your digital travels. You may be unlucky enough to have met some on your own site. Some trolls may be quite benign and productive members of the community. That is, until something or someone triggers them.
Some trolls like to annoy others because they are bored. Others because they are angry. Whatever the reason, they can be a handful to manage well.
A well managed community offers excellent protection against trolls that may join only to cause trouble. The troll has no fun against a charming community unwilling to engage in hateful behaviour.
Therefore, a positive community is essential in protecting your members, as much as it is making a welcoming atmosphere for new members.
Your community leaders are there to model good behaviour.
How your leaders speak to your members is very important. If they are rude or offensive, then the community will view that as the culture you endorse and act likewise.
It's important that your leaders refrain from becoming embattled in aggressive discussions. An ideal leader is cool, calm and impartial. If members see your leaders engaged in heated debate, they may follow suit.
A good strategy is to use a leader's forum or Pages database where they can discuss contentious topics in private and agree on a way forward together. Forcing your leaders to remain impartial and discuss the topic elsewhere is a great way to retain professional separation.
If your leaders want to engage in debate, then allow them to create a personal account. This allows them to air their personal views inline with your boundaries.
It is vital to remember that your leaders carry your brand and message at all times.
Create a strong terms of service
Invision Community's terms of service feature is ideal to outline your community and what is acceptable.
Be positive with your terms and rules. Creating a positive culture from the earliest interaction with your site is important. This sets out boundaries in a friendly way.
Invision Community's build in terms editor
Avoid using negative words such as "don't" and "can't". People tend to skip over these words. It is better to be positive, for example:
"A signature CANNOT have more than one image"
Could be better explained as:
"Your signature may have a single image".
This positive interaction feels better but still enforces your rules.
Keep the number of rules to a minimum. Visitors connect better with sites that aren't laden with rules and threats for stepping out of line. Indeed, reading a terms of service that outlines punitive action for every minor misdemeanour makes the site look unruly and embattled.
Even good productive members have bad days and may display out of character behaviour.
Weeding out the early signs of trouble
Not all arguing is bad. We've seen some dynamic and informative topics that have flowered from an initial disagreement.
The first step is identifying which behaviours you find unacceptable. Your community and culture will define these boundaries. What is acceptable for a casual community with a very young demographic may not be acceptable for a very formal conservative site.
Is this member trolling? A classic troll is someone who seeks to derail rational conversation through abuse, hectoring or needling. A troll isn't someone that disagrees with you, your product or your choices. Civil disagreement is the foundation for any rich discussion. A troll is less tolerant and their end goal is to aggravate others.
Is the member new? Perhaps they are unfamiliar with the expectations of your community. New members can often be eager to impress veterans and may come across as over excitable.
It is worth noting down topics which have the potential to derail and check in on them often. You can add hidden replies that do not trigger notifications. This is an ideal way to leave notes to other community leaders.
The best judge is often experience. It may take a while to develop your sixth sense with your community.
Motivation through rewarding good behaviour
Invision Community is equipped with a reputation system which is linked to the number of positive reactions a piece of authorered content obtains.
The simplest expression is the humble 'like'. To encourage members to like and thank others for useful content empowers individuals and motivates them to post more good content.
You may wish to send a personal message offering thanks for exceptional content to your members. A brief personal note is a welcome gift in today's world of often impersonal automation.
We have seen communities that post up weekly topics linking to great content. Likewise, you can leverage featured posts to draw attention to your good content.
The Our Picks feature is yet another way you can promote great user submitted content. It must be very rewarding to see your hard work showcased to the rest of the community.
Avoid special forums for 'unmoderated discussion'
Some communities try and address the balance between the need for rule enforcement through moderation against the desire to offer a venue for raw discourse. This usually presents as a special forum often labeled as "Unmoderated", "The flame zone" or similar.
The intention is a good one and the logic makes sense. Provide a venting space for your community in one area to keep the rest of the community friendly.
Don't make your members bring boxing gloves to a topic!
In our experience, this plan quickly backfires. The unmoderated area becomes hateful, toxic and very unpleasant. Basal desires that are kept in check by your rules and boundaries are left to run amok.
It's very likely that these discussions become so heated that members leave your site for good. That isn't a desirable outcome!
It's much better to keep your rules consistent throughout all areas of your site. Encouraging contentious discussion is rarely a good thing.
Punitive tools are the last resort
Invision Community is loaded with excellent moderation tools to handle persistent offenders.
We would encourage you to try speaking with a troublesome member first via the personal message system. Give them a chance to explain themselves and remind them of the rules.
If you have exhausted all avenues, you have several options to choose from.
Invision Community's warning system allows you to pre-set different warning thresholds which trigger specific actions.
For example, you may decide that after 10 warns, the member is set to full moderation. This means that their posts are hidden to other community members until you review and approve them.
This is an excellent tool and has success in rehabilitating hot headed members that react quickly and often find themselves in hot water with your community leaders.
Invision Community 4.3 introduced crowd sourced moderation. This allows the administrator to set up thresholds for actions based on the number of reports a content item receives from other members.
The warning system
For example, you may decide to hide a post after it receives reports from five or more different members.
2) Full moderation
You have the option to enforce review and approval of all members topics and posts. The downside is that it increases the workload of your moderators, so should be used sparingly.
It is a very effective tool when used for a short time after a heated debate gets out of control. It allows you to enforce a time out until the situation has calmed down.
3) Short term banning to cool off
Invision Community allows you to temporarily ban a member from your site for a specified number of hours.
It is especially effective to enforce a break from your site. This allows an otherwise good and productive member time to cool down and reflect on how they wish to contribute. In most cases, the member comes back calmer and ready to post productively.
4) Permanent banning
As a true last resort, you can exclude the member from accessing your site completely. A banned member can no longer access forum lists, topics or posts. They can of course log out and view the community as a guest.
In most cases, members can be rehabilitated through personal messages, moderation or an enforced cooling off period.
A permanent ban can be lifted by an administrator at any time.
Cultivating a positive community can take a little work from your community leaders but the benefits are numerous. A fun engaging community of respectful members is a real joy. The infectious spirit of the members makes it very easy to join and contribute.
There is always a learning curve, so use any issue as a learning experience and give your members the benefit of doubt.
You wouldn't want to punish an overzealous and excitable new member and make them feel unwelcome by reaching for a moderation tool too soon.
Try and guide conversation by using your community leaders to model good behaviour. Try and keep a sense of fun and take the time to get to know your members.
Above all, enjoy the journey! Taking the time to engage in your community is a great experience and offers many opportunities to learn and grow as a leader.
Invision empowers you with the tools to manage and reward behaviors, but it's ultimately your stewardship to thoughtfully design a positive community.
We'd love to know which of these tips you already practise. Let us know below!
Ramsesx reacted to Matt for an entry, Video Tip: Set up a curated video gallery in 5 minutes with Pages
Pages is one our most flexible applications.
We use Pages on this site for our news blog, our release list and our bug tracker. We also use it internally to track customer suggestions, knowledge base articles and more.
The most common use for Pages is as a simple articles database. With its built in templates, you can create interesting and engaging pages in just a few minutes. This is how we have it configured for this news blog.
In this entry, we'll be looking at something a little out of the ordinary.
In just five minutes, you can create a simple curated YouTube video gallery on your website using Pages. All of this functionality is built in. You won't need to learn code, or install any plug-ins.
Check out the video below for a walk through which covers:
Creating a database and page Using the 'Easy Mode' page editor to drag and drop the database into place Setting up the database's custom fields for YouTube You can take this further by tweaking the built in templates to create something unique for your site. You may wish to use a different listing page and show thumbnails of the videos to entice your visitors into the site.
This is ideal for sites which use YouTube heavily but wish to keep the discussion on your site. The built in comments and review sections display just under the video.
Pages opens up many different ways of curating and displaying content.
We'd love to see how you're using Pages, let us know in the comments!
Ramsesx reacted to Matt for an entry, Team Talk: Show us your workstation
You have probably spoken to us in support tickets and on our community forums, and you've likely seen our photos.
But what about our workstations? What do they reveal about our personalities? Do none of our team have lights in their office?
This is an old picture [Not as old as your Facebook photo -Ed], I now have a 4K monitor in the center, attached via Thunderbolt to my MBP. But that image was taken when I used my PC, a now-old EVGA x79 Dark mobo, i7 3930k, twin GTX 580's, and all watercooled.
When I game, I swap out the leads so the PC can use all 3.
At the moment I'm revisiting an old, but still apparently very popular game. Elder Scrolls: Oblivion.
Where's the light switch?
For my main machine I have a late 2014 iMac with 2 x iiyama external monitor, which I spend most of my day on.
When out of the house or just generally wanting a break from the office, I have a MacBook pro. Great for what it is, but I hate sitting on a laptop [You're supposed to sit in front of it -Ed], so I'm generally found hiding away in my office.
When I'm not responding to tickets from you lovely lot, I'm generally doing some of my own development. As a Windows developer primarily [That explains a lot -Ed], I have parallels desktop set up so I can work with visual studio and sql server as if they were native mac applications. I also spend a fair amount of time with Ableton live and Logic, where I play about with trance production, as its something nice to immerse yourself in during spare time.
Who let the dogs out?
The few, the proud, the Windows users of IPS [We only keep them so we can assign all IE bugs to them -Ed]. Love my two 27" Dell monitors. Plan to add a third eventually. I may also be a big Tom Petty fan.
Our Tom Petty fan
I switched from a desktop only set up to the new retina MacBook Pro last year. It's nice to work in the office with the LG monitors but have the flexibility of unplugging and taking the MacBook with me to work elsewhere [What? Like the garden? -Ed].
Clowns, Drug Lords and Funny Men
It took hours to clean up for a picture. [This is literally all Daniel supplied as text for this month's blog. For example, he could have pointed out the little keypad thing shown under the right hand monitor which acts like an app launcher, but didn't. So thought I would -Ed]
Precise angles and a lot of work to clean up
My office is actually going through a slow renovation process so that it can double as an office as well as a studio, so this will all likely change in a few months (you can see color swatches for paint options on the left) [We can't see anything. You have an expensive Philips Hue set up but clearly never switch it on -Ed]. I'm currently working through a Late 2014 iMac Retina 5k, and apparently I'm one of the few that doesn't have any external monitors (I used to, but I find them cumbersome most of the time, so I took them down [Were you holding them up yourself? -Ed]). When working remotely, I use a 2011 13" MacBook Pro.
My favorite thing, though, is the "poster" I have on the right - my father gave it to me for my thirtieth birthday this year, and it's actually a sheet of uncut one dollar bills (funnily enough, though, there are actually 32 rather than 30).
Coke and Coffee
I'm currently in the process of moving from the UK to Australia so I don't really have an office right now, but this is what my office back home looks like [it's always this tidy. He is obsessive -Ed]:
Captain Raymond Holt
2 x 32" inch curved Samsung Monitors a 4K Samsung Smart TV. Razer Chroma Keyboard, Razer Chroma Death Adder, Corsair Yellow Jacket Headphones and a really awesome PC.
I am basically surrounded by screens [FYI, keep an eye on J.A.R.V.I.S, he has a Vision -Ed].
Tony Stark's first set up
Up until this month my wife has been studying in Cardiff, so half of my time has been spent working on a dining table in our apartment [Can't wait to see how the table turned out, if you've spent a month on it -Ed].
Now, back home I have my desk set up with the worlds largest laptop [Dear reader, you have no idea -Ed](i7-4720HQ, GTX960M, 16GB Ram, 17.1" 1080p) connected to an external 22" 1080p monitor. We're still in the middle of restoration so my office is really the lowest priority buy my long term plans include a standing desk, Surface Book 2 (or similar) with twin external 4k displays. Those two PC towers aren't really used anymore (one is Windows Server 2008 which used to be used as a local file server, the other is my old gaming PC)
We're huge fans of LEGO®
Like Mark I’m constantly on the move so my working environment tends to be wherever I can find that’s quiet with a good Internet connection. When I’m “home” though my office looks like this: [Seriously, switch on a light -Ed]
Dark and moody, just like his coffee
So there we go. We've exposed our team's set ups, expressed our concern about a lack of lighting in many offices and found out who had to tidy up their desk before taking a photo.
We'd love to see your workstations too, post them below!
Ramsesx reacted to Matt for an entry, How to successfully convert your platform and breathe new life into your community
Do you have a community but are looking to move to a more modern and feature rich platform?
There's a lot of ways Invision Community can breathe new life into your community. With our engagement features, advanced promotion features and mobile ready responsive themes, your members are going to love the changes.
Invision Community can power your entire site, from the content management front end right through to your download areas and shopping carts.
Imagine not having to juggle a dozen plug-ins and make several different applications talk to each other.
We offer a range of migration tools for vBulletin, xenForo, phpBB, Vanilla, bbPress and more. These tools convert your data such as members, passwords, forums, topics, posts and more across to Invision Community.
But first, let's look at how to make your migration a success.
Take our demo for a spin
Hands down the best way to get a feel for Invision Community is to take out a free demo. Once you are comfortable with the suite and know what it can do, the more confident you will be in discussing it with your members.
There's a lot of functionality to discover. Keep in touch with our sales team to get the most from the demo. We recommend that you consider three uses.
Your community. Look at how they will settle in with the new interface and how they will use the new features on offer.
Your moderators. Take a moment to look in the Moderator Control Panel. Run through all the tools that are available, such as the warning system and content review system.
Your administrators. Probably the largest change between platforms will be in the Admin Control Panel. It's worth spending a little time getting familiar with it and looking at what's new, and where common tools are such as forum and member management.
Tip: Invision Community's Admin Control Panel has a global search bar to look for settings, members, invoices and more. If you ever feel a little lost, enter in what you're looking for.
Make your plan
Using the demo and speaking to our sales team will help you draw up a migration plan. You'll know which apps you'll need, and what data can be migrated over.
You may want to browse the marketplace to look for apps, plugins and themes to extend the functionality even further.
Tip: We offer a VIP migration service where we work closely with you to draw up your plan and take care of the conversion for you.
Educate your community
Keep your community up to date with your migration plan. Show them the platform they'll be using. Take videos and screenshots showing them the exciting new features coming soon. Make it a positive and fun experience.
Post something new every few days to get your community used to the idea and get them involved by asking them if they have any questions. Our sales and support teams are here to help you if you have any further questions at this point.
Getting the majority of your community excited about the change is the best way to make the transition a smooth one.
Make sure you explain the benefits of the switch too. If there's a good reason for it, your community will get behind it quickly.
Some benefits may be:
It works better on your mobile device and tablets, so you don't need to struggle with pinch and zoom to get around.
Mobile ready out of the box
The built in embed system allows you to post images, YouTube videos more easily and you can preview it instantly as you type.
The crowd sourced moderation makes reporting bad content more beneficial. It'll help to keep the community clean from undesirable comments and moving a positive direction.
More features on the way. Invision Community is always adding new functionality based on our customers' wishes. These releases happen often so there's always something to be excited about.
Pick a day
The best migrations are planned down to the date and time when the data conversion will occur. Our team can give you a rough idea of how long the data conversion will take. It will vary but we can give you a ballpark.
Your members will feel happy knowing what is going to happen and when. There will be some downtime while the data is converted, so it's always best to announce this well ahead of time.
Set up a test site
Once you are committed to switching, set up a test site. A single Invision Community license can be used for a development installation as well as a live installation.
This is the perfect time to work on your theme and look at any tweaks you'd like to make.
Invite in your team and a trusted few from your community to offer feedback and advice. It's worth taking the time here to make sure everything is perfect for when you do the final conversion.
Make it comfortable
Take some time to theme your new Invision Community so it has a similar look and feel to your existing community. Change resistant members will feel more comfortable if there are areas that are familiar to them.
Ensuring your branding is up, and the colours match what you had before is a good start.
The easy mode theme editor is a great place to start.
Mind your language!
There are always little differences in the interface language that may throw some of your older members off. For example, some systems use "threads" instead of topics and "messages" instead of posts.
The easy language editor
Invision Community has a built in translation system so you can change our interface language to match your existing site.
Help your members
Set up a temporary questions and answer forum where your members can ask how the new system works and give you feedback.
Pin a handful of topics explaining where common items are now, such as how to edit your profile, how to send personal messages, how to mark the site as read and so on. Think about the daily activities your members make and explain how to do them with Invision Community.
You can use the pre-move time to ask your community what actions they do daily and may need assistance with on the new platform.
Some of us dislike change. We are creatures of habit. You may find some members are very resistant. That's OK, they'll come around in time as long as you continue to make them feel valued and understood. Take the time to explain how the new system works and what the benefits of Invision Community are.
In our experience, members love the following Invision Community features:
Invision Community has a variety of granular notification options, from browser to email so you're sure to not miss a thing.
We're mobile friendly right out of the box. Our theme has a responsive framework, which means that it resizes perfectly to any device you're using. No need for extra themes or styles, it's all baked in.
We all love a little friendly competition don't we? Invision Community has features like the leaderboard and member titles to reward activity. Who doesn't want to win the day?
Liking content is fun, but being able to express thanks, laughter and more is even better. It's all baked into the system ready to use.
Educate your team
Invision Community has a whole host of moderation tools that your team will love as it makes their daily routines much easier.
From the comprehensive warning system, to the crowd sourced moderation feature, which can automatically hide content and notify moderators once it has been reported multiple times, Invision Community makes your moderators lives easier.
The best approach is to pin topics in a team area that explains how to use these new features and where to find them.
Investing in a new community platform and migrating your community across is a big decision. With the right planning and forethought, it will be a smooth and positive migration with lots to look forward to once complete.
We offer free conversion tools for you to use, or we offer a VIP conversion service where we take care of it for you and you get one-to-one help and support throughout the process.
We'd love to hear from those who have successfully migrated across from other platforms and how they made it a positive experience for their members.
Ramsesx reacted to Matt for an entry, GDPR updates for Invision Community 4.3.3
Unless you've been living under a rock, or forgot to opt-in to the memo, GDPR is just around the corner.
Last week we wrote a blog answering your questions on becoming GDPR compliant with Invision Community.
We took away a few good points from that discussion and have the following updates coming up for Invision Community 4.3.3 due early next week.
Downloading Personal Data
Invision Community already has a method of downloading member data via the member export feature that produces a CSV.
However, we wanted Invision Community to be more helpful, so we've added a feature that downloads personal data (such as name, email address, known IP addresses, known devices, opt in details and customer data from Nexus if you're using that) in a handy XML format which is very portable and machine readable.
You can access this feature via the ACP member view
The download itself is in a standard XML format.
A sample export
Pruning IP Addresses
While there is much debate about whether IP addresses are personal information or not, a good number of our customers requested a way to remove IP addresses from older content.
There are legitimate reasons to store IP addresses for purchase transactions (so fraud can be detected), for security logs (to prevent hackers gaining access) and to prevent spammers registering. However, under the bullet point of not storing information for longer than is required, we have added this feature to remove IP addresses from posted content (reviews, comments, posts, personal messages, etc) after a threshold.
The default is 'Never', so don't worry. Post upgrade you won't see IP addresses removed unless you enter a value.
This new setting is under Posting
Invision Community has always had a way to delete a member and retain their content under a "Guest" name.
We've cleaned this up in 4.3.3. When you delete a member, but want to retain their content, you are offered an option to anonymise this. Choosing this option attributes all posted content to 'Guest' and removes any stored IP addresses.
Deleting a member
The new setting
Finding Settings Easily
To make life a little easier, we've added "GDPR" as a live search keyword for the ACP. Simply tap that into the large search bar and Invision Community will list the relevant settings you may want to change.
These changes show our ongoing commitment to helping you with your GDPR compliance. We'll be watching how GDPR in practise unfolds next month and will continue to adapt where required.
Invision Community 4.3.3 is due out early next week.
Ramsesx reacted to Matt for an entry, Invision Community 4.3 Now Available!
We're thrilled to announce that Invision Community 4.3 is available to download now.
After months of development, over 2500 separate code commits and quite a few mugs of coffee you can now get your hands on the final release.
You can download the final release from your client area.
If you need a recap of what was added, take a look at our product updates blog which takes you through the highlights. These include:
We'd love to know what you think, let us know below.