liquidfractal reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: Topic view summary and more
A topic is more than a collection of posts; it's a living entity that ebbs and flows over time.
Evergreen topics can see month-long gaps between posts and longer topics spanning numerous pages can end up hard to navigate through to find useful content.
With this in mind, we've added numerous improvements to the topic view to bring context and summaries key areas within the topic.
Topic view updates
The first thing you likely spotted in the above screenshot is the new sidebar. This acts much like a summary of activity within the topic. It very quickly lets you know how old the topic is and how long it has been since the last reply. This context is essential if you are unwittingly replying to an older topic.
Most topics are driven by a handful of key members. The topic activity section shows you who have been most active, which may influence which posters you give greater authority to.
Likewise, popular days lets you dig into the 'meat' of the topic which may have evolved quickly over several days.
More often than not, a single post attracts more reactions if it is particularly helpful or insightful, and this is shown too.
Finally, a mini gallery of all upload images allows you to review media that has been attached to posts.
The topic activity summary under the first post
This activity bar can be shown either as a sidebar or underneath the first post in a topic. If you enable it for mobile devices, then it will show under the first post automatically.
The topic activity summary on mobile
As with many new features in Invision Community, you have several controls in the Admin CP to fine-tune this to your communities needs.
The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted a few other changes to the topic view.
The first is the badge underneath the user's photo. The shield icon notes that this poster is part of the moderation team. Of course, this badge can be hidden for communities that do not like to draw attention to all their moderators.
You will also notice that when the topic starter makes a reply to a topic, they get an "author" badge as their reply may carry more authority.
When you scroll down a topic, it's not often apparent that there has been a significant time gap between replies. For some topical topics (see what I did there) this may alter the context of the conversation.
We have added a little identifier between posts when a period of time has passed between posts.
These changes add a little context to the topic to give you more insight into how the replies direct the conversation.
The new topic activity summary gives you an at-a-glance overview of key moments and posters to help you navigate longer topics.
We hope that you and your members enjoy these new features coming to Invision Community 4.5!
liquidfractal reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: User Interface Improvements
Invision Community has certainly changed a lot over the years as we've moved through major updates and large user interface changes.
While large scale changes offer a dramatic difference, it is sometimes the smaller changes that bring the most satisfaction when using your community daily.
This blog entry rounds up some of the UI improvements Invision Community 4.5 brings.
Content View Behavior
What do you want to happen when you click a topic link? Are you taken to the first comment, the last comment or the first comment you've not read? If you speak to 100 people, I'm pretty sure you'll get a good spread of votes for each.
Invision Community has always offered subtle ways to get right to the first unread comment. Our infamous dot or star allows you to do this, but it is so subtle almost no one knows this.
Invision Community 4.5 now allows each member to choose (with the AdminCP offering a default).
Now everyone wins!
Invision Community has had reactions for a long while now. Although finding out who exactly reacted without clicking the counts has proved irksome.
We've fixed that in Invision Community so simply mousing over the reaction icon reveals who reacted.
Sign In Anonymously
For as long as I can remember, Invision Community has offered an option to sign in anonymously via a checkbox on the login form.
However, as we've added faster ways to log in via Facebook, Twitter, Google and more it's become less straight forward to ensure your anonymity.
Invision Community 4.5 removes this login preference and moves it to your members' settings.
Now your members can resume hiding as they move around your community across multiple logins.
Resize Before Uploading
One of the most popular requests we've had in recent times is to resize large images before uploading. It's quite likely that your giant full resolution image will be denied when attempting to upload, and it's a bit of a faff to resize it in a photo editor.
Invision Community leverages the uploader's ability to resize before uploading, which makes it a much happier experience.
Switch Off Automatic Language Detection
Invision Community attempts to map your browser's user-agent to a specific language pack.
When you visit a site, your browser lets the site know which language our browser is set to (often dictated by your operating system) and we use that to show you the correct language if the community you're visiting has multiple languages installed.
However, it might be that you don't want this to happen because although your computer's OS is set to a specific language, it doesn't always follow that is the one you wish to use on a website.
Invision Community 4.5 allows this automatic detection to be switched off.
We will finish with another popular feature request; the ability for long quotes to be collapsed, reducing the amount of scrolling one has to do.
Quite simply, Invision Community collapses long quotes with an option to expand them to read the entire quote.
Thank you to all our customers who have taken the time to leave feedback. As you can see, we do listen and action your feedback.
Which change are you looking forward to the most? Let us know below!
liquidfractal reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: Simple Stock Photo Picker
We have come a long way since the late 90s when someone had the genius idea of using a small yellow smiling face image instead of the more common colon-bracket representation of a smiling face.
In Invision Community, there are various places that photography can be used to create visual interest. From uploads in topics, to cover photos for blogs and members.
The humble upload field has served these areas well, but sourcing images to use can be a pain; especially when you have to walk the minefield that is copyright and attribution.
Fortunately, there are a few "CC0" online stock photo libraries that offer quality photography that requires no attribution and are not hampered by copyrights.
One such library is the ever-popular Pixabay, which was established in 2012 and features a very powerful API. Pixabay has over a million images ready to use from llamas to sausages and everything in-between.
Invision Community 4.5 now includes support for Pixabay which brings those images to your fingertips (or mouse pointer if you're on a desktop.)
This video shows the feature in use.
As you can see, not only can you upload into posts from the stock photo library, but you can also use it to add a cover image to your profile and blog entries.
Finding quality photography has never been so easy!
For those that love technical details, the stock photo picker is a programmatic option on the upload form field type making it very easy to add to your own code and apps.
How will you use this new feature? Let me know!
liquidfractal reacted to Andy Millne for an entry, 4.5: Blog Categories
Ever since Invision Community 4.x was launched you have been asking for the ability to categorize blogs in your community.
We heard you loud and clear, but sometimes when a feature sounds straightforward, it requires some re-engineering of the framework. Because users in your community can create both blog entries and their own blogs to hold these entries, this was one of those areas.
Starting with Invision Community 4.5 I’m pleased to announce that it is now possible for blog authors to categorize their blog entries and it's now possible for administrators to categorize blogs.
Blog Entry Categories
When creating a new blog entry, your members will now be able to create a new category for the entry or choose an existing one that had been created previously.
Choosing your category when creating a new blog entry
When a reader then visits the blog they can choose to display only those categories that interest them.
Filtering by category
Running a community where users can create their own blogs, you don’t only need to make sure individual pieces of content are categorized correctly, you also need to make sure the blogs themselves have a logical place. Well guess what? Now you can!
As an admin you can now set up predefined categories in the control panel and Blog authors can then choose which one to create their new blog in.
Managing blog categories
We realize some of you have been waiting a long time to see these changes so we hope you enjoy this and everything else to come in Invision Community 4.5!
liquidfractal reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.5: Club Improvements Roundup
Almost every single day, we receive feedback on our popular clubs feature. Some of the requests are big in scope, and some a little smaller.
Following on from our previous blog entry for Club Pages, we’re pleased to announce a collection of smaller, but no less useful improvements.
Improved Map Display
The Clubs location map better shows where local clubs are
A small but useful change to the clubs map means the view is now centered and zoomed around available clubs. Previously the map would show a world view even if all of the clubs were located in a concentrated geographical area.
A commitment to privacy always influences our development decisions, and this is true in clubs as well as other areas. It is now possible to set who can view the club member list on a per club basis. Clubs can be set to show the member list to everyone, only to club members or only to club leaders and moderators.
You can now decide who can see your club
A common request for clubs is that widgets should be able to display content from within clubs. With 4.5, this is now possible and allows you to better bring attention to your club content from anywhere in your community.
Content widgets can now show club specific content
Some people wanted to control where widgets would show more finely. This wasn’t previously possible, but now it is. When adding widgets to a page, you can now set whether you want it to appear everywhere, everywhere except clubs, or only in clubs.
Club leaders can invite members who they believe will enjoy their content to join. Likewise, members can request to join a club that is not open for all to join instantly.
For a site with a lot of clubs, this could mean that you are invited to many clubs or find that your pending request goes unnoticed.
Your member can quickly manage their pending invites
Members can now cancel pending requests themselves quickly and easily from the Club homepage.
Clubs are becoming an increasingly popular part of Invision Community and really helps foster a sense of involvement.
We are always interested and surprised by the variety of ways this feature is being used. Let us know how you’re using clubs in the comments and keep the great suggestions coming!
liquidfractal reacted to Ryan Ashbrook for an entry, 4.5: Club Pages
Without a doubt, clubs is one of the most popular features added to Invision Community in recent times.
Invision Community clubs allows you to run sub-communities on your site. We've seen clubs used in many ways, including managing geographically local groups and clan groups for large gaming sites.
This popularity drives us to keep incrementally improving the feature set for clubs, and Invision Community 4.5 is no different.
One thing that was raised many times was a way for club owners and leaders to create simple pages with general information members need.
Happily, in Invision Community 4.5, this feature now exists (and more!)
In addition to the title and visual editor that allows full formatting of the page content, there is an additional visibility setting which allows owners and leaders to define which types of members can view the page.
This is perfect for showing a page that is only visible to non-members which informs them how to join the club.
Likewise, it is a great way to display moderation guidelines to the club moderators only.
Of course, owners and leaders will always be able to see all pages added to a club.
Additionally, once a page is added to a club, a tab will be added alongside others, and the page can be re-arranged just like the rest.
Using this, owners and leaders can create an alternative unique index page for the club.
This is just one of many club improvements finished for Invision Community 4.5. We'll be talking about these in a future blog!
liquidfractal 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.
liquidfractal reacted to Matt for an entry, The benefits of owning your data
I noticed something new in the chiller cabinet at the petrol station after filling yesterday.
Bottles of Grape Fanta sitting alongside the more mundane and pedestrian drinks such as Coke Zero and Pepsi Max.
I grabbed two bottles.
After draining one in record time, I googled around to see where I could get more of this delicious nectar, and it discovered that it's a new flavour being launched in the UK.
The really interesting thing was that Coca Cola used data stored in the self service machines that offer different flavours (such as those at cinemas) to determine which new flavours to bring to the market.
Grape was the second most popular flavour after regular orange, so the company knew they had a market ready for premixed bottles.
In a world where we fear what Big Tech does with our data, it's easy to forget that data has a valid use in your business.
It's why we make it clear that with Invision Community, you own your data. We just look after it for you.
This gives you the freedom to discover new trends within your business and use them to drive sales.
liquidfractal 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
liquidfractal reacted to HelenG for an entry, How I started my community
I'm only one month in to starting a new community and I've already learned a huge amount. I was a little apprehensive at first but I'm taking things one step at a time and I'm happy with how things are going so far.
The points I'm going to raise are working for me but I'm a beginner and running a website of any description is new. Nothing here is guaranteed and I hope to receive comments from established community admins so I can continue to improve.
The first thing I realised is that I wasn't actually starting a community but instead I'm going to be bringing new tools and ideas to an already existing one. My chosen subject is broad (Dogs) so there is already a well established real life community globally. My aim therefore is not to replicate already available content but to reach this community with unique content and encourage them to contribute their own. More on that later but before I could do that I needed something they could visit.
The new community site
You can spend days and weeks planning and writing business plans and these are all good things to do alongside everything else but they shouldn't stop you getting started. The only thing that really mattered to me was starting on the actual idea and to do that all I needed was a platform. You've probably already guessed but Invision Community was chosen for this as it offered multiple apps that would allow me to have both long form articles and forum content. There's also the monetisation options that appealed to me but I am not yet using. It's good to know they are there when I'm ready though.
I also considered Wordpress but it lacked the community tools I was already sold on.
Rope in friends and family and use their skill sets
I'm not scared to admit where I need help and as I have hit problems or things I don't know I have called in favours. I don't have a large budget for stock photography subscriptions so a friend is providing photos in exchange for attribution. My fiance is more technically minded so he has helped with some of the set up and help with Invision Community features is only a support ticket away.
There is plenty of general information a quick web search away too but some topics are complex and I thought that if I could free up at least some of my time I can keep focussed on the direction.
Help can be as simple as nudging friends into posting new topics or comments to get some initial activity and momentum. It's also a good test to make sure you have everything set up with your registration process and identify some potential problems.
These helpers are also now active members of the site of course so it's a two for one. I'm sure they'll be calling in return favours at some point but that's fine, they've earned it.
Encourage all contributions even if you don't agree with them
Coming from a primary school teaching background I see kids come up with lots of crazy and novel ideas all the time, they might sound silly but you never know, they may grow into something bigger. My aim is to foster a sense of community and belonging and people of all ages who have their ideas valued tend to stick around. If an idea doesn't work that's fine but you never know what will work so I'm trying lots of things and encouraging innovation. The forums are a great tool for this as everything doesn't need to be rigidly structured.
Be passionate and confident about your subject matter
Perhaps my top tip…If you don't value your own thoughts and actions then how can you expect others to? Show your enthusiasm and knock away negative thoughts and doubts.
Use all of your tools
Once you've encouraged your initial core group of members, you need to keep them coming back. So far I've had success using the bulk mail feature for a monthly newsletter to rekindle the interest of early members who may no longer be as active. I was warned about bad email practices so I have our notification defaults set very loosely as I want to build trust by not spamming. Everything I send is opt-in and using the newsletter signup block I've been able to make this prominent but not obtrusive. I'm worried I might be missing out by not being aggressive enough with email but it's a risk I'm taking to hopefully get better long term members.
Get involved with your member activities and conversations
Join in with conversations on your community where it makes sense and be as active as possible. You're running a website but to do so you don't always need to be in front of a computer. Speak to your members face to face as well as through the keyboard. I've been going on local dog walks with clubs and other community groups which is a great chance to network and give your members and potential members the chance to see the people behind the website. If there are events or shows in your field get involved and spread the word verbally. I'm talking to dog owners face to face about behavioural issues and always in the back of my mind is the fact this could be discussed on the website to help others and build activity. Over time these "real world" relationships should also be represented on the website too.
Don't get distracted
I've got into the habit of using a reminders app to keep track of future things I want to do. It is tempting to start lots of things every time you have a new idea but that can take your mind off what is actually important right now. Don't forget about these ideas though, make a note and come back to them later.
Approvals and applications for things can also take time. I found myself sometimes sitting around waiting for adsense accounts to be approved or Facebook apps to be verified for sign in. Don't let this downtime be unproductive.
Keep writing new content
What we have started as new community admins isn't easy, it's going to be a long haul so you need to be consistent and regular with updates. On that note I have a breed profile about Chow Chows to write.
Thanks for listening to my ramblings and if you have any more tips please let me know in the comments.
Helen is a year 3 international primary school teacher currently living in Slovakia. She loves dogs (of course), books, and reading whenever possible. She has travelled extensively for work, particularly in South East Asia and has experienced many amazing cultures. She is a qualified Zumba dance fitness instructor and is now building what she hopes to be an invaluable resource for dog owners.
liquidfractal reacted to Matt for an entry, The hidden cost of doing nothing
I'm sure that most reading this blog are running an up-to-date Invision Community and enjoying all the benefits of a modern community platform.
Little things that get taken for granted now, like being able to view your community on a mobile phone without pinching and zooming just to read a few posts and having multiple automated tools to deal with community toxicity and spam.
However, a little wander around the web soon uncovers some really old forum systems still somehow creaking along.
Amazingly, most of these communities are still used daily, often with millions of posts in the archives.
It might be tempting to ask why keep upgrading and investing in new versions of the software?
After all, if the community is still running just fine and getting daily visitors, then it's ok to do nothing, right?
But there is a hidden cost in doing nothing.
This is the main one for me. Old platforms often have several published security vulnerabilities. Often these vulnerabilities are exploited by scripts that are shared around hacker communities. This means exploiting a website running an old version of a forum system is as simple as running a script and pointing it at your site.
Older forums are also less sophisticated. They rely on unsafe hashing methods to store passwords and lack vital features like two-factor authentication.
Also, consider that the server environment has to be maintained with out of date PHP and MySQL versions. It's a recipe for disaster.
Could your community survive a major exploit where data is downloaded into the hands of a hacker?
The cost could be fatal to your community.
Even the most ardent of fans on your community will eventually tire of struggling to access your site on mobile devices.
I think back to 2002 when we created the first version of our software. We only had to focus on how it looked on a computer, so naturally, that influenced the design of the forum.
It's not so simple now. More and more of us are using mobile phones to access the internet. A recent statistic showed that mobile internet access outstrips desktop use 2 to 1; and for some countries, mobile internet access is almost the only way people get online.
It's just a matter of time before new members stop registering and engagement tails off.
At the end of 2018, there were 1.8 billion websites (I Googled it). The competition for attention has never been as fierce.
Your community may be the go-to place for your niche, but what if another community popped up running the latest version of a platform with all the features your members have been desperately asking for?
It may not take long until there is a massive drain from your community.
I'm sure there's a dozen reasons to make sure you're always re-investing in your community by upgrading to a modern platform. This blog merely scratches the surface.
For those of you that do invest and upgrade? You reap the benefits daily by ensuring you are doing the very best for your community by keeping it secure and accessible for most.
If you are on an older platform, now is the time to put some serious thought into making the move to something better.
I put together a little downloadable guide that might help too.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.
liquidfractal reacted to Matt for an entry, Don't hide your community away!
One of the first things I do when visiting a site that I know has a community is to try and find it.
More often than not, it's hidden away in the footer links or buried in several sub-menus and labelled something relatively obscure like "Fans" or "Support".
This is a massive lost opportunity!
We all know that social proof is incredibly important when making a purchasing decision.
When I buy something on Amazon or book a holiday, the first thing I do is scour the reviews. Are the reviews mostly positive? What did other people think about the product after receiving it?
I might see two almost identical products and the reviews, not the price that'll always sway me.
It's that urge to herd to keep safe at play.
So why bury all that out of the way?
Your community should be full of fantastic social proof — hundreds of customers using your product and creating a buzz.
Is it a fear of criticism? We all have had bad experiences with clients who are less than rational with feedback, but that's OK.
The Harry Potter series of books are beloved by millions, made J.K Rowling a fortune, made a celebrated movie series and opened up several themed attractions which are always busy.
Yet, there are a significant number of 1-star reviews on Amazon.
Not everyone will get you or your business.
You always have the opportunity to reply and explain your side, and you are always in control with moderation tools.
Let's face it; if you are to handle negative feedback, it's better to manage it on your community than see it all over social media, Google reviews and review sites like TripAdvisor.
Maybe you're a little embarrassed because the community platform is old and doesn't match your branding.
If that's the case, then come and talk to us! We specialise in migrating communities from legacy platforms with poor mobile support. We offer brand matching services too.
Maybe it's just that you're unsure of what to do with your community.
I get that too. It can be hard to know how it fits in with your brand. I'm happy to help there also. Feel free to drop a comment below.
Our product has several ways to pull content from the community and feature it on your site.
We've helped big brands like LEGO®, Sega, Warner Bros. and more nurture a prosperous community that enhances their business.
The bottom line is that a well manage community should be central to your brand and website.
liquidfractal 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!
liquidfractal 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.
liquidfractal reacted to Matt for an entry, Team Talk: What's your favourite movie?
This month, I thought I'd ask a trick question. "What is your favourite movie?"
I fully expected to be told "but Matt, we work so hard on Invision Community, we don't have time to watch movies." just so I didn't have to complete this month's entry.
But no. Apparently, most of our team have MULTIPLE favourites. Hmmm.
And here they are.
Favorite movies are a pain to choose because there are so many great (and greatly terrible) movies out there. So I'm going to choose a few that I just really adore and explain why.
So the first one is "Halo: Forward Unto Dawn". I have never played a Halo game in my entire life. I just find the movie intriguing and smooth. It has an amazing pace and of course there are aliens. It's also one of those movies that I can just put on when I don't feel like watching anything else but I want to watch something. The replay value for me is amazing.
The Next one is a psychological thriller called "Pandorum" this movie is a thriller about a man that wakes up in a broken space ship that was on its way to another world. The way it's put together is amazing, the story is twisted and it's just an amazing watch. It's something that I can easily say was a quick favorite from the first time I saw it.
I can never forget the lovely "Dredd" in this list of my favorite movies. Muricer for the win! It has all the elements of a great Sci-Fi plus Karl Urban and Lena Headey. I win all around on this movie. Plus, it's even better in 3D with the Slo-mo drug.
While I can list more I'm going to round off my answer with 2 Series movies. "Tremors" and "Sharknado". What most of you don't know about me is that I'm a sucker for horribly trashy horror movies ("Zombeavers" is another favorite with the same reason as these two series). Scantly clad women, screaming, monsters, corrupt people and lots of blood. There is no better thing to watch. I love a good day of Monster Movies and beer. The trashier the better.
When Mark Wade is challenged in a git review
I think I will go for 3 different points in time for favourite movies. One from growing up, one which is a classic IMO, and one more recent that I've enjoyed.
Growing up, it has to be 'Labyrinth' staring David Bowie. It's the first movie I ever watched at the cinema with my parents, and one I can still watch to this day. I'm very much guilty of singing along to every song, and I'm actually banned from watching it anywhere near my wife as I say every single word in the script a split second before they say it. I think its safe to say I have seen it a few times.
A classic for me would be 'Schindlers list'. To me this is one of the best movies ever made, and while I'm sure it will have been greatly adapted for a movie audience, it also shows what many went through during WW2 which are not so common knowledge. A great movie for children to sit there and watch who don't know about it, as it gets them asking questions that all children should ask and learn from.
For a more recent movie, I quite enjoyed 'Sully: Micracle on the Hudson'. I generally like movies by Tom Hanks anyway, but I did particularly enjoy this one.
Bonus recent movie - Baby Driver I really enjoyed. Great movie, and the star somehow looks familiar I'm sure 'ed' will find a suitable image to illustrate.
Airplane. I must have seen it dozens of times, it never gets old, I quote it constantly... I just love it.
When Wade is reviewing your branch
Zathura - Jumanji in space, no more words are required.
When you're late reviewing Wade's branch
This is a fairly challenging question to answer, as someone who watches a lot of movies. I own somewhere around 1500 DVDs/BluRays, though in recent years I've been buying fewer and renting more. A few of my top movies would include (in no particular order)...
1. The Matrix Series - while I've overplayed the series at this point, the story was amazing at the time and it had so many allegories to real life that were fun to think about even when you were done watching.
2. Doom - it was campy and silly overall, but a lot of fun. Karl Urban and The Rock together was a cool mix.
3. The One - I have always been a fan of Jet Li, but when this came out I thought the cinematography was awesome. The way they did the slow-mo movements was neat, and the story was quite unique. Plus, Jason Statham is awesome, and he was a supporting role instead of a lead.
When you challenge Wade in a review
The Beatles’ “Help!” has got to be my favorite movie due to the special place it holds with my family. My sister growing up was a huge Beatles fan and being the younger sibling, it kind of got forced on me but grew to be a fan as well. This movie, in my opinion, was my great due to the music (great album) and very dry comedy that is hilarious. Think I can recite each line of the movie as I’ve seen it too many times. It definitely isn't a movie set out to win any acting awards but if you haven’t seen it and like the Beatles, I would recommend it.
When you get a list of 'recommendations' on your branch
As Daniel Son I have to say Karate Kid 🥋
Nah, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is just to sick and amazing and gets never boring!
Daniel likes to commit on, then commit off
Like the others, I can’t pick just one movie.
For documentaries, that would be “The Longest Day”, the story of the Jun 6, 1944, allied invasion of Normandy, with perspectives from all sides of the conflict. The book by Cornelius Ryan on which it’s based is a very long read, but gripping and factual, and this movie is one of the few that actually did justice to the book from which it was derived. Anyone with a passion for history should both see the movie and read the book.
The runner-up in this category would be “Saving Private Ryan”, although it did take liberties with historical fact.
In the Sci-Fi category, the original “Blade Runner”. The city in which it is set was once described as “a cross between Hell and Hong Kong on a bad day”, and that’s disturbingly accurate. It’s a warning about the future of humanity if we do not curb our use of the planet’s natural resources, and do not carefully overwatch technology in the hands of corporations driven only by profit and without any societal morals.
Two close runner-ups in this category would be the film “Soylent Green”, another cautionary tale that is similar to Blade Runner in its warning about the future of humanity, and “2001: A Space Odyssey”, a speculative tale about our own evolution and our future.
For other general fiction it would be “The Silence Of The Lambs”. Few movies have creeped me out like this one did. Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of Hannibal Lecter was truly chilling,
Two runner-ups would be the mini-series “Lonesome Dove”, based on the books by Larry McMurtry, a fictional work about the frontier Wild West, but could easily be true, and “The Thorn Birds”, a similar genre set in Australia and based on the book by Colleen McCullough.
When you run out of logical facts during a developer's meeting
We'd love to hear which movies you love, or that have inspired you in some way.
Let us know below!
liquidfractal 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.
liquidfractal 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!
liquidfractal reacted to Stuart Silvester for an entry, 4.3: Announcements
We have a very important announcement to make!
There are times where you need to get the attention of your visitors. You might be closed on certain days of the year, performing server maintenance (if you are consider our Cloud Plans, they're excellent) or running a competition.
Invision Community has always had an announcements feature baked in, but we felt it could be improved.
Okay, maybe this feature isn't as flashy as some of the others we're introducing in 4.3, but these useful features should make managing your community easier.
The new look announcement feature replaces the old widgets enabling you to display customisable announcements in any of the following locations;
Top of the page Above the page content In the sidebar
The three new announcement locations
Each location has some slightly different features; the page top banner is dismissible by the member if they no longer want to see it, whereas the banner above the content and the sidebar announcements cannot be dismissed.
Most of the original customisable features are still available, including the ability to select which applications and pages show certain announcements and which member groups can see them. Combining this with the three new locations gives you much more flexibility for different types of announcements and we've also included the option to customise the color of the announcement.
New customisable options
The announcements have also been improved to contain more information. Rather than showing an unformatted snippet along side the title, announcements can now be tapped to open a modal showing any further details.
Modal showing announcement content
We hope you'll enjoy these useful improvements in Invision Community 4.3. Stay tuned for further announcements (pun intended)!
liquidfractal reacted to Matt for an entry, Happy 16th Birthday To Us!
This month, we turn sweet sixteen!
We made our own card this year.
I know, it's hard to believe with our youthful looks and energetic personalities, but it's true. Charles and I have known each other longer than I've known my own children and we still make each other laugh on a daily basis.
Over the past 16 years we've seen a lot of trends come and go.
When we started, AOL dial-up was the preferred method of choice (and probably the only method of choice). Compuserve were flying high and I think I'll stop this walk down memory lane before I turn into my own grandfather and start talking about how things were better in my day.
A lot has changed. We've seen the rise of social media and how it disrupted habits. We've seen MP3 players become iPods, and iPods become iPhones and iPhones become iPads (other digital devices are also available).
It's crazy to think that our company pre-dates Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.
Click on this image to see it unless you have excellent eyesight
We're still here because we are always innovating and adapting. The software we're working on right now is vastly different from the one we started out with. And that is how it should be. We listen to our customers and we implement the great ideas.
Of course, we'd not have lasted a year without our customers. We're genuinely thrilled to still be doing a job we love and serving customers who have trusted their community with us.
Thank you all for choosing us and we're looking forward to the next 16 years.
liquidfractal reacted to Matt for an entry, 4.3: Commerce Subscription Manager
We've recently spoken about how we've brought our Gallery and Blog apps up to date with interface overhauls to bring them inline with the high standards our customers expect.
Keeping this in mind, we're thrilled to announce that we've taken Commerce right back to 2009.
This needs an explanation.
Way back in 2009, Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President. Minecraft was put into beta, Slumdog Millionaire was released to critical praise and we had a product called IP.Subscriptions.
IP.Subscriptions was a lightweight member subscriptions manager that allowed members to purchase elevated permissions via a user group upgrade.
It was a fine little app. However, on the horizon we had a brand new eCommerce app in development. Then called Nexus, now called Commerce (we took months to come up with that).
It made sense for us to merge the products into one app given they both had overlapping functionality. They both could create packages to promote members to a new user group. Commerce was much more developed as an invoicing and billing system.
Everyone was happy.
Commerce has grown to be an incredibly powerful app. It can sell anything from physical products like t-shirts, to digital products such as license keys and it can even manage your hosting set-up.
We use it for our support and billing systems, so we know how robust it is.
While it's an incredibly powerful commerce system, setting up basic subscriptions packages became a little more complex.
Over the past few years we've received a lot of feedback on this.
Commerce Member Subscriptions
We've built a brand new section into Commerce specifically for membership subscriptions.
Let's take a look at this in more detail.
On the front end, there's a very clear and easy to understand page for membership subscriptions.
The main subscriptions interface
Here you can see all the available packages, which one you're currently subscribed to and the upgrade and downgrade options.
A simple way to upgrade
There's several choices for costing upgrades in the Admin CP, here we have chosen to charge the difference between packages.
Get to your subscriptions easily
Your subscriptions are easily found in the user menu.
If the Admin allows, the package you're subscribed to appears as a badge on your profile.
There's also a little widget showing the packages which you can drag and drop to the sidebar for an additional prompt for non-subscribers.
This gives Invision Community a very clear and easy to understand interface for subscriptions which lives outside of the Commerce store and its packages.
Now, let's dive into the Admin CP
The main engine for this feature is the package list. This is in a separate area within Commerce.
The list also shows the number of currently active and inactive subscribers. This links to the list of subscribers.
Other than Bob having a total nightmare, you can easily view which members are currently active. The buttons link you to the Commerce invoice and purchase.
If you wish to add a member to a subscription without charging them (you generous soul, you), then that is easily possible.
Creating a new subscription package is very straight forward. We've built a new form which is stripped down to the fundamental items you'll need for a subscription.
As you would expect, there are several settings to control the system.
A few things worth mentioning here:
You can force new members to purchase a subscription on sign-up You can show or hide the profile badge indicating which package they purchased. You can choose to allow upgrades or downgrades. You can choose how you'd like to charge for upgrades or downgrades Thank you to everyone who has provided feedback over the years. We're really pleased to present this new feature and hope that it'll make your daily lives just a little easier.
Let us know what you think!
liquidfractal reacted to Matt for an entry, January Wrap Up
What an exciting month we've had!
The big news is that it's all systems go on Invision Community 4.3, our big update to our apps.
We've already talked about Automatic Community Moderation, Emoji, Sign in from other sites using OAuth, blog updates, Scaleable search and interface improvements, Apple Pay (and more) support, Paid club memberships, and other club improvements and massive gallery updates.
Our team take a short breather to discuss their hidden talents, including the ability to solve a Rubik's cube in under two minutes.
In our community management series, we look at how you can brand your Invision Community in just a few minutes without knowing how to code.
This month's featured articles are:
You can see our full newsletter here.
liquidfractal reacted to bfarber for an entry, 4.3: Leverage your data with our statistic improvements
"The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data", the Economist wrote recently.
Invision Community software stores a lot of important data that can be leveraged to analyze and improve upon the traffic and interactions with your site.
While there are some various statistics tools in the AdminCP already, we spent some time with 4.3 enhancing and improving upon our existing reporting tools, as well as adding some new analytics tools you may find useful.
Beginning with 4.3, any dynamically-generated charts in the AdminCP that support filtering will allow you to save those filter combinations for easier access in the future. When you open the Filters menu and toggle any individual filters, the chart will no longer immediately reload until you click out of the menu, and 'All' and 'None' quick links have been added to the filters menu to allow you to quickly toggle all filters on or off.
Here is the 'Sales' chart for Commerce, for example. You will see that the interface is now tabbed.
Commerce's Sales chart
After opening the 'Filters' menu, selecting all of my products named 'test', and saving this filter combination as a new chart, I can quickly come back to this chart in the future.
Specific filter configurations allow you to run reports easily
Note that each user can save their own chart filter configurations independent of other users.
Top income by customer
Speaking of Commerce, we have also added a new chart to the 'Income' page, allowing you to view reports of your top customers. As with other dynamic charts, you can save filter configurations here for easy future access, and you can view the results as a table to get a raw list of your top customers' purchases. Further, we have tidied up the table views for the other existing tabs on this page.
Looks like brandon is my top customer
We have introduced several statistic pages to expose information about the Reactions/Reputation system and how your users are interacting with it. For instance, you can now view information about usage of each of the reactions set up on your site.
Yes, I'm definitely confused a lot
You can also see which users give and receive the most reputation (which is the sum of their reaction points, keeping in mind that negative reactions can reduce a user's total reputation score), you can see which content on your community has the most reputation (which might prompt you to promote it to the 'Our Picks' page, promote it to social media, or otherwise continue to encourage interaction with the content), and you can see which applications reactions are given in the most. This could allow you, for instance, to focus more efforts in areas of your site to drive more activity, or to foster activity in areas you did not realize were as active as they are.
Some areas of the community aren't as active as they could be
Additionally, when viewing user profiles on the front end you can now see a breakdown of which reactions each user has given and received when you click the "See reputation activity" link in the left hand column.
Apparently I'm not so much confused, as I am confusing
Another useful statistic introduced with 4.3 is the ability to review tag usage on your community. As with other dynamic charts, you can filter however you like and save those filter configurations for easy future access.
Not all tags are equal
Trend charts for topics and posts
When viewing the New Topics and New Posts charts, there are now tabs for "New Topics by Forum" and "New Posts by Forum", allowing you to see which of your forums are the most active. Additionally, you will see a trend line drawn on the chart to show you the trend (e.g. whether activity is increasing or decreasing). You can also filter which forums you wish to review, so you can compare your most active forums, the forums that are most important to your site, or the forums that need the most attention/may not be relevant, for instance.
Viewing new topics by forum
New posts by forum, but viewing only a subset of my most important forums
Some other miscellaneous improvements have been introduced as well, which you may be interested in:
When viewing Member Activity reports, you can now filter by group. We have also added the content count column to the table so you can quickly sort by top posters if this is relevant to the report you are running. Device usage is now also tracked (mobile, desktop, etc.) and can be viewed on a new Device Usage page. Developers: Dynamic charts now support database joins
liquidfractal reacted to bfarber for an entry, 4.3: Modernizing our Gallery
A picture says a thousand words, they say. If getting those pictures online is troublesome, some of those words might be a little choice.
Gallery has been an integral part of our community suite for just about as long as T1 Tech Mark Higgins can remember (and he has many years of memories). It has seen many interfaces changes as the years have rolled by. The most recent version received a fair amount to feedback on usability.
We've listened. We've re-engineered most of Gallery's key interfaces to make uploading new images to your community frictionless.
Lets take a look through the major changes.
Improved submission process
Submitting images has to be simple or else users will give up and your gallery will be underutilized. We have spent a lot of time simplifying and speeding up the submissions process for your users. The first thing that will be noticed is that the submission process is not presented as a wizard anymore, and the choice to submit to a category or album has been significantly cleaned up and simplified.
Choosing a container
Here, I have chosen the category I wish to submit to, so now I am asked if I want to submit directly to the category, if I want to create a new album, or if I want to submit to an existing album. Choosing one of those last two options will load the appropriate forms to create an album or select an existing album, respectively.
Afterwards, the modal expands to full screen and you will naturally select your images next, and there's a lot to talk about here.
Overhauled submission interface
First and foremost, the interface has changed significantly to both simplify the UI and to make actually using the interface easier. When you click on an image, the form is loaded to the right immediately without an AJAX request needed to fetch the form.
In addition to quickly setting the credit and copyright information for all images at once, you can now set the tags for all images quickly and easily without having to edit each image individually.
Images support drag n drop reordering in the uploader here, which means that you can drag n drop images to different positions to control their order. Many users previously would name images "Image 1", "Image 2", and so on, and then set their albums to order images by name in order to control the order the images were displayed in. This is no longer necessary now that you can manually reposition the images.
The default description editor is a pared down textarea box, but you can still use the rich text editor if you wish. The ability to enable maps for geo-encoded images and to upload thumbnails for videos is still supported as well, and those options will show up when appropriate in the right hand panel.
The 100 image per submission limit has also been lifted. You can now upload many more images in one go with no hard limit imposed.
Upon clicking submit images, you will see the typical multiredirector to store all of your images, however you will notice that it processes much faster than it did in 4.2 and below.
Better submission control
Administrators can now configure categories such that can accept only images, only albums, or both. This means you can now create categories that cannot be submitted to directly, and you can create categories that albums cannot be used with. This is a feature that has been oft-requested since the release of 4.0, and we are happy to report that it will be available in our next release.
Additionally, album creators (if permitted) can also now create shared albums. When you create a new album, you can now specify (under the Privacy menu) who can submit to the album, with your available options being:
Only me Anyone Only the users I specify Only the groups I specify Prior to 4.3, albums have always been owned by one user and only that user could submit to them. Invision Community 4.3 will open up albums so that anyone can submit to them, dependent upon the album creator's preferences and needs.
The choice is yours as to who can submit to your albums
New image navigation
Another major change with Gallery 4.3 is that clicking an image now launches that image in a lightbox to view it and interact with it. This lightbox is context-aware, allowing you to visit the next and previous images in the listing, whether that is a category or album listing, or the featured images or new images listings on the Gallery homepage, for example.
The new image lightbox
Firstly, I will note that you are seeing the image here with my mouse cursor over the image area, exposing the title, tags, and some various buttons. When you mouse away from the image those overlays fade away to highlight the image itself better.
As you can see, you can navigate left and right here to view the next and previous image in this context, and you can otherwise interact with the image as you would have if you had visited the older-style image view page (including the ability to rate, review and comment).
The new Gallery release will introduce a new advertisement location in the right hand column to allow you to show advertisements, even in the lightbox.
If you follow a link to a full image view page, the lightbox will automatically launch when the page loads, still allowing you to interact in a familiar manner. Additionally, if you move through enough images in the lightbox to reach a new page (for example, if you click on the last image in the album listing and then click on the next image button), the listing itself behind the lightbox will update for easier usability if the user closes the lightbox.
One final thing to note is that the interface has been made more mobile friendly, particularly through the introduction of swiping support. You can swipe left and right in the lightbox, and in image carousels, to see the next and previous images.
Notable performance improvements
As we mentioned at the beginning, we recognize there is a balance between performance, usability, and attractiveness, particularly with regards to an image Gallery. For that reason, we have made Gallery's performance a major focus in 4.3, and have implemented some changes that bring with them a noticeable performance improvement.
Firstly, we have adjusted the software to only store two copies of an image (in addition to the original), instead of four. In previous versions, we stored a thumbnail, a small copy, a medium copy and a large copy of an image, all of which arbitrarily sized and designed to best meet our layout needs without showing an image too large or too small in a given space. We have simplified this vastly by storing a slightly larger "small" image, and storing a large copy. Diskspace usage is reduced dramatically as a result, and bandwidth usage is actually lowered as well since only two copies of an image need to be delivered to the browser instead of four.
Next, we have implemented prefetching of the 'next' and 'previous' pages when you launch the lightbox image view. This means that when a user navigates to the next image in the lightbox, it loads immediately instead of waiting for the content to be fetched from the server. From a UX perspective, this provides a much snappier and responsive interface, making users more apt to interact with the site.
We have additionally sped up the submission process as previously mentioned. The order of execution for certain events that must happen during submission has been moved around a bit, resulting in a faster experience for the end user actually submitting the images.
Because we know the details matter, we have implemented other smaller improvements as well. For example, the link to rebuild images in the AdminCP previously resulted in a redirect process that rebuilt the images while you waited, but now a background task is launched so that you can continue with what you were doing while the images get rebuilt in the background.
From start to finish, the Gallery UI and UX has been touched on and improved, and we hope you enjoy these improvements when you start using the new version.
liquidfractal reacted to Mark for an entry, 4.3: Paid club memberships, and other club improvements
We released news of Clubs just under a year ago for Invision Community 4.2 and it has been the best received feature to date.
Clubs opens up new ways to run your community by allowing members to create sub-communities away from the central forum area.
Since the feature was released, we've collated an immense amount of feedback on the feature. Here's what we're improving for Invision Community 4.3.
Paid Club Memberships
If you have Commerce installed on your community, 4.3 adds the ability for members to create paid clubs. Users wishing to join the club will be required to pay a membership fee (which can be one off or recurring) which will be paid to the club owner, minus any commission you want to keep for the site. You can choose which groups can create paid clubs.
Paid Club Settings
If enabled, the club directory will show the price for membership in each club.
Club directory with paid clubs
The process for joining works a little differently depending on the type of club...
For open clubs, the user will immediately be prompted to pay the joining fee. Once they have paid, they are added to the club as normal. For closed clubs, the user will need to request to join as normal. Once they have been accepted to join the club, they will then be able to pay the membership fee, after which they'll be added to the club. For private and read-only (a new type in 4.3, which we'll talk about below) users have to be invited to join the club Public clubs have no membership, and so cannot be paid.
Joining a paid club (a closed club in this screenshot)
Paid club after request to join has been accepted
Paying for club membership
Club leaders can also waive the membership fee, allowing certain users to join the club for free.
Waiving fee when approving request to join
Waiving fee when inviting members
Waiving renewal fees on an existing member
If a member fails to pay their renewal charge, they are moved into an "expired" state. The club leaders can see the status and renewal date for all members, and use the filter tools to just see active or expired members.
Club members management
Paying out membership fees works just as it does with paid files in Downloads. Users receive the amount as account credit. If enabled, they can then request a payout of this via PayPal or a manual payout method you want to use.
Viewing an invoice in the AdminCP where some payment has been given to a member
Viewing account credit with options to withdraw funds
Club content throughout the community
Currently content in clubs is only visible within the club itself. In 4.3 a new setting allows you to show the content from clubs throughout the community - for example, if a club contains a forum, that forum can show in the main forum list.
Club forums showing on main forum list
This is a single toggle: if enabled, all content from clubs that each user has joined will show throughout the community, appearing below the normal categories/etc in that application.
New Club Type: Read Only
In addition to Open, Closed, Private and Public, we have added a new club type in 4.3: read only. In a read only club, everyone can (without joining) view everything in the club, but cannot participate unless they are invited by a club leader.
Users can now follow a club, and will then receive notifications about all new content in the club - the same as if they followed every content area in the club.
In addition to the current grid layout of clubs, there is a new list-style.
Clubs List View
The admin can choose which views are available and what the default should be.
You can now filter the list of clubs in the AdminCP to clubs requiring approval and approve clubs from within the AdminCP.
Approving clubs in AdminCP
Deleting Content Areas
Club leaders can now delete content areas within their clubs. This can be useful if, for example, the leader added a club feature by mistake.
Content areas can only be removed if there is no content within it, or if you have granted club leaders the ability to delete content in their clubs (since they would be able to empty it).
Ability to remove features from clubs
Other Minor Tweaks
You can now set per-group the maximum number of clubs a member in that group can create. A member invited to join a club can now delete the invitation if they do not want to accept it (rather than just ignoring it).
liquidfractal reacted to Charles for an entry, 4.3: Usability improvements to make your day better
Often it's the smaller changes that can make a big improvement in the day to day use of your community. We have made quite a few updates that will make your community flow better for you and your members.
Update files in Pages Media Manager
Previously when you wanted to update a file in the Pages Media Manager you actually had to upload a new file and then change the references to that file to the new one. This was obviously not so great.
When you select a file there is now a replace option. We're not sure why we didn't do this earlier but as they say: better late than never!
Tag Input when Optional
On communities with tagging enabled, we have often noticed that people tend to feel the need to tag everything even when it's not really necessary. If your site is about cars you don't really need everything people post to be tagged "car" as that's sort of obvious.
So to make it a bit clearer that tags are not required we have hidden the input field behind a Choose link so people have to actively choose to tag if they really think it's necessary. We hope this cuts down on tag noise. If tagging is required then the normal input box will always show.
Google Invisible reCAPTCHA
The new Google Invisible reCAPTCHA allows you to prevent bot registrations without the need for all users to fill out the normal captcha process. As often as possible your members will never notice there is even a captcha happening on the page. It's another way to make the flow from guest to member easier.
Whitelist for Spam Service
The spam defense service Invision Community provides works very well at combatting spam signups automatically. The issue is sometimes it works too well!
Let's say you are at work and all your colleagues share the same public IP. You are excited about your new community (of course you are) and your whole office tries to register at once. Our spam service would probably see your office IP as suspicious with that sudden influx of traffic and may even block it.
The new whitelist tool allows you to specify IPs and email addresses to always allow on your community regardless of what score our spam defense gives it.
Reply as Hidden
Sometimes it would be nice if your moderators could reply to an item with a hidden reply. You might want to leave a note for other moderators or perhaps you have a database and want some replies public and some private.
If you have permission you will now see a hide toggle when replying. This works in all apps anywhere you can reply to a content item and have hide permission.
Exclude Groups in Leaderboard
You can now exclude certain groups from being ranked in the Leaderboard. This is very useful if your staff or RSS bot tend to get all the reputation points. By excluding those groups you can focus on your actual member participation which is a better reward to encourage engagement.
On a personal note this will make me very sad as I usually win reputation counts on our site. But, being such a great person, I am willing to make this sacrifice for you.
Complete Your Profile Order
The Complete Your Profile feature introduced in version 4.2 has been a great success for clients. We have heard many reports of increased engagement as the system can walk people through the sign up process. Not having a big, scary registration form is always a huge plus.
For 4.3 we added the new ability to change the order of completion for your members. This will allow you to stress the items you really want them to complete first and move your less important profile options later in the steps.
Mapping has been a feature of Invision Community for quite some time but up until now has been limited to Google Maps integration. For 4.3 we have added support for Mapbox which is based on OpenStreetMap data. The maps are beautifully designed and bring greater flexibility with an alternative look. The groundwork is now laid for some exciting new features still to come!
Some of our existing customers also found Google policies and pricing structure incompatible with their own internal policies which this addition addresses.