ARTICLE

Unveiling community features and crafting an effective roadmap

Online Community-Part 3

Unveiling community features and crafting an effective roadmap

Online Community-Part 3

Online communities are versatile, serving various purposes and functionalities. To ensure success, consider the value your community should provide its members and develop a plan outlining key features and use cases. This article explores how to define your community’s value proposition and create a roadmap for its features.

ARTICLE

Unveiling community features and crafting an effective roadmap

Online Community-Part 3

Online communities are versatile, serving various purposes and functionalities. To ensure success, consider the value your community should provide its members and develop a plan outlining key features and use cases. This article explores how to define your community’s value proposition and create a roadmap for its features.

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Low member engagement hinders community growth

Online communities face a persistent challenge—only a fraction of visitors actively contribute, hindering growth. A strategic approach is needed to enhance engagement, considering the unique lifecycle stages and varying member needs. This article delves into crafting a compelling value proposition, aligning features with community goals, and developing a roadmap to overcome the challenge and foster a thriving community environment.

The Lifecycle of Communities

As outlined in our first article of the online communities series, communities evolve through five stages, adapting offerings and feature requirements. The primary challenge is to consistently engage a larger number of visitors, encouraging active participation and enhancing community involvement.

In line with the customer life cycle method, the primary goal is consistently to grow the number of contributing members. An impactful strategy involves creating a value proposition closely aligned with members’ needs. In the upcoming sections, we’ll explore how to create a strong value proposition and connect it with the essential features and functions of the community. Additionally, we’ll discuss the importance of planning a roadmap to ensure sustained growth and development for the community.

Crafting a compelling value proposition for your community

Launching a thriving community requires careful consideration of your target audience and a thorough analysis of their needs. This process involves a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, such as in-depth interviews, group discussions, and surveys. These methods are invaluable for gaining a nuanced understanding of your audience’s preferences, expectations, and pain points.

By immersing yourself in the insights gathered from these research approaches, you can effectively formulate a compelling value proposition (Figure 1). This proposition serves as the cornerstone of your community, articulating the unique benefits and offerings that will resonate most with your audience. Ultimately, a well-defined target audience and a thoughtfully crafted value proposition lay the groundwork for a community that not only meets but exceeds the expectations of its members.

By defining what the target audience expects to gain from the community in terms of tasks they want to accomplish, desired positive experiences and negative experiences they want to avoid, you create a foundation for designing the online community. 

Within the community landscape, customer jobs represent the specific tasks that members aim to achieve through the community, ranging from seeking support and assistance to finding inspiration. 

Gains are the positive experiences members hope to have, such as ease of use and a friendly tone in discussions. 

On the flip side, pains signify the negative experiences that members seek to avoid, extending to concerns about how the community manages their data and potential security issues.

To address customer needs, a similar process is undertaken to ensure the community delivers value through both gain creators and pain relievers. This often entails a blend of resources, expertise, features, communication, and personalization. 

As the community matures, target audiences change, and the value proposition needs to be updated. Initially, the audience typically consists of individuals knowledgeable and interested in the topic. To build a core of active members contributing content in the early stages, they often need to feel exclusive and valued (e.g., VIP treatment). In the mature phase, the broader audience is typically more utility-oriented, seeking relevant information or social connections. 

For each phase in the maturity model, you need to define the most important target audiences and understand their needs. This forms the basis for developing the necessary features in each phase. 

Strategic feature prioritization for community development

There are numerous capabilities and use cases that can be developed for the community. Different features provide member value at different points in the lifecycle. Based on the value proposition established for each phase, new features are prioritized (Figure 2). Regardless of how much analysis is conducted in advance, it is impossible to predict with 100% certainty which use cases will become popular and valuable. Therefore, it’s advisable to start with simple variations, build, test, and evaluate. Based on insights at each stage, the plan for development is reviewed and updated. A good practice is to involve the most active members of the forum to gather their input on prioritization. 

We’ve outlined and clustered the key capabilities required in the most significant focus areas for online communities (Figure 3)

Community Roadmap 

To gain an understanding of the budget, schedule, and system support required for the community, it’s beneficial to create a planned roadmap for features. This roadmap will be updated and adjusted over time but still provides a shared plan to work from. 

This prioritization from the outset, based on what is deemed valuable to members in each lifecycle phase, also creates transparency for all involved and serves as the foundation for ongoing work planning. As work progresses, the roadmap is updated. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, crafting a compelling value proposition is crucial for building a successful community. This involves understanding your audience’s needs, positive experiences they seek, and negative experiences they want to avoid. As the community evolves, the value proposition must adapt to changing audience dynamics.

The strategic prioritization of features and capabilities is essential for community development. They are prioritized based on the value proposition for each phase of the lifecycle. Involving active members in the prioritization process ensures alignment with user needs. The iterative development approach, starting with simple variations and adjusting based on insights, proves effective.

For long-term success, a community roadmap is essential. It provides clarity on budget, schedule, and system support. The roadmap, rooted in prioritizing valuable features for each lifecycle phase, fosters transparency and serves as a foundation for ongoing planning and development. The journey involves continuous adaptation and evolution to meet the dynamic needs of the community and its members.

We at Remotion can help you carry out a pre-study and business case for your business and assist you finding out more about online communities. This is our third article in the series regarding online communities. In the previous articles, we have covered the following areas:

Article 1: Why do communities fail to attract active members?

Article 2: Key strategies and insights for drafting a business case

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