Building Online Communities – Usability and Design

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Categories: Online Communities

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I decided to bundle these two issues together. Although usability and design already play a big part in websites in general, they play an even bigger part in online communities.


Your design, is your identity. Your users will feel how much work you put into your site’s branding and identity. If your forum uses a common forum skin, or worse, a default forum skin. Users will pick up on it. You’ll get out as much as you put in. If your forum skin, for example, fits with your color scheme, content and logo, then we have a real masterpiece, and users will notice. It will show that you care.

That being said, if you use any mash-ups or purchased software, be sure to heavily customize it and tailor it to your site’s identity.


Usability is great for every website. One thing you’ll notice about online communities, is if you’re constantly adding content or features to please your community, you might soon find yourself with a myriad of applications and processes. Here are some tips:

  • Make sure your stylesheets are similar across the board. This includes link colors, hover styles, buttons, etc.
  • Consider revising your navigation if you see that you have more than 7 navigation items.
  • Try to keep the same header and footer across all applications and additions.

That’s all for now, hope that helps. :)

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One Response to “Building Online Communities – Usability and Design”

  1. Azzie Baucum Says:

    Nice information. Thank you for the info, domain names are a tough subject for me to understand. Definitely bookmarking this site for future use.