The Birth of Online Social Communities
The web continues to evolve, driven by an appetite for more and more. Programmers are tasked with the art of simplicity, designers are required to understand programming and business marketing aspects of web design. In its infancy (1998) there were very few options available to businesses because the internet lacked maturity. Programmers, marketers and tech savvy people were trying to wrap their heads around the idea of global reach. As an individual that has transitioned from the late 1990’s to 2017, sharing this experience may shed some light on where we are today and how growth affects communities.
Y2K- In the Beginning
The first website we built was in 2000. It was a website that helped our printing business grow in leaps and bounds. The base coding language was hand-coded HTML. Any styling, editing, additions and deletions were executed manually. This website attracted new customers from around the world, most from the USA and Canada.
From 2000 to 2007 our domains were dominant presence in the online design and print sector. During this time many fundamental belief systems were formed that have been subject to trending and still remain key today. It is with this knowledge we began to create engaging website designs as a business offering.
My, my how the web has changed over the years. From a marketing and website designer’s perspective it is a constant learning curve. Chances are, if your website was designed over 1 year ago you are missing out on new web technologies that did not exist at the time of your website redesign. Evolving technology online is not the biggest game changer in my opinion. To me, the biggest change to our web happened in 2007; The Online Social Revolution.
We use technologies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to make socializing easier but we (humans) have been social creatures since the beginning of time. It was really in 2007 when we decided that Facebook and Twitter were cool to join. This is what spawned the birth of social communities online. We (humankind) must accept responsibility for making this choice. For businesses that are still naysayers with the social web…get over it and jump on the opportunities you are missing out on.
What is A Social Community Based Website?
Simply put, community based websites give non-profit organizations, businesses, municipalities, councils or any social group a clever way to market their goals. With community groups and webpages they interact with community members can have their say, while administrators feel the pulse of members. At the same time, new content is being born. A website with fresh content is a popular website and that’s what makes a community website rise above stand alone business websites.
Install new Modules in a Jiffy
Your favorite aspect of community based websites is scalability. Once the core programming has been installed, upgrading and adding new features (modules) is only a few clicks away. Below are a few modules that are commonly used in community website development:
Open Business Reviews
When products or services are being offered online this module will help consumers make educated buying decisions based on real customer feedback.
Create Online Surveys
Ever wonder what people really think? It’s a statistical truth people are less intimidated by online surveys. At the same time data collection is clean and easy. This makes your ability to measure the pulse of opinions quick and easy.
Run a Classifieds Section
This is likely one of the coolest features of an online community. Community classifieds offers a great opportunity to announce flea markets, yard sales, garage sales and other community events. Members can also create their own classifieds section if permissions have been set appropriately.
With multiple administration capabilities you never have a problem keeping your events organized on one place for public and private groups to see. Quickly add, delete and modify new events with full Google maps integration. Events can be assigned to groups or global administration. This means you have multiple event calendars in each community.
Board Committee Listings
For municipal communities, committees can be organized in logical categories. This will provide a higher level of accessibility and minimize the typical divide between city politicians and residents. The social web is upon us; there is no longer any excuse for the “great divide” between municipal governments and residents.
Community website development enables strength in the power of the collective. Provide your audience with the mainstream services you offer as a group. Save time and money by organizing a group who desires an online presence. Once your community is live be prepared for feedback. Feedback is good whether it’s positive or negative. It is your chance to become an authority in your industry.