5 types of modern community homepages

(Richard Millington) #1

I've just spent an hour or two reviewing the new types of community homepages around at the moment. 

Most new communities fall into one of five categories:

1) Activity-stream. The community is driven by a central news feed shared by all members similar to Facebook.

2) Activity-boxes. We saw this with Sarah Hawk's Sitepoint community. It's Pinterest-style. 

3) Purist-activity. We see this with most forums / stackexchange / most lithium sites

4) Activity-content. Where activity and content are combined and intermixed into a single place. Huddler does this. Jive too.

5) Guided-Activity. You see this where the homepage guides people towards specific activity. Moz does this - guides people towards events. 

Has anyone seen anything new that doesn't fit into one of the above categories? 

(Steve Bridger) #2

Well-observed, Rich (as always). It would be great if we could share screenshots of examples of each. Here, or [cough] on Pinterest?

(Olivier Le Pord) #3

Yes... seems that it would cover it...

(Lincoln Russell) #4

I currently run my sites as 3 with pages for 1 & 2, but am experimenting with a combination 4 & 5 layout. The challenge is that this requires much heavier design & integration efforts than 1-3 do.

I feel like you ordered those on a continuum, but defining it is eluding me. Maybe it's from total push to total pull? Maybe it's from small to large scale (your own FB community is typically quite small - your friends - while Moz is perhaps more trying to aim a firehose).

I'm interested in what you think of having multiple approaches available as separate pages.

(Richard Millington) #5

I didn't actually think about ordering them on a continuum. If I did, I suspect it would be purist activity at one end and guided activity on the other (or content-activity on the other). 

Hence the continuum would either be importance of discussions or how many other things would appear on the page. 

I'm not sure it's the right approach for this mind. 

(Sarah Hawk) #6

I guess we’re now firmly in the Activity-content category. :smile:

(Richard Millington) #7

Pretty cool.

(Gear Buzz) #8

We are trying to figure out a home page (we just have a /board forum index at the moment)

It will likely be a mash up of:

At a glance what visitors can do signposting (tabs) Classifieds, Reviews, Events, Forum, Buyers guides etc
Selected “cool” hot topic (auto curated?) content links
Member of the month spotlight
Some buyers guides / top ten… Lists
How to use this site screencast tutorial links
Prominent “advertisers get in touch here” link

I will never forget the boss of mumsnet in Richards interview at the last Sprint conference - responding to my question re a forum portal page and what to consider for one - she said “pfffft! It’s just for advertisers! - no one ever looks at a front page!”.

Kinda took the edge of my panic about planning one!

(Richard Millington) #9

Are you moving from vBulletin?

Do you have any designs you can share with us? I’d love to take a look at

  • Rich

(Steve Bridger) #10

I’m currently grappling with this issue for a new community.

The discussion forum will remain at the heart - and is the most important bit for members.

Hard to get the balance right - with platforms now offering modules for ideation, wikis, etc. Throw blogs into the mix, too. These are all things the sponsoring org may wish to see given prominence.

One of our core skills is ‘diplomacy’, right? :wink:

(Gear Buzz) #11


Not moving from VBulletin 3.8 - far too much (8 years?) of customisation to replicate at this stage.

Re designs - will will likely follow our usual MO - throw up widgets with all the functionality we want - with the developers doing crude / rudimentary fit it all on the page ‘design’. The idea being that once ALL the functionality is on the page we can THEN call in a designer to make it look pretty. (but we have yet to actually ever do that!)

We DO have one page ready for a designer…

We need to find one… (any ideas?)

(Sarah Hawk) #12

Haha, yes indeed. So the bottom line is that it will come down to stats. Sponsorship is based around eyes on pages. If the forum is where your members spend their time then that should be a relatively easy case to put to the decision makers.

[quote=“julesstanden, post:11, topic:118”]
far too much (8 years?) of customisation to replicate at this stage.
[/quote] No! It’s never too late. We did this after 15 years on vB. Lots of work but well worth it.

[quote=“julesstanden, post:11, topic:118”]
We need to find one… (any ideas?)
[/quote] Are you comfortable working remotely with a designer? If so, I’m happy to introduce you to the person that we worked with on this site.

(Daniel Dow) #13

We’re working on a new HP design as well. Run a global learning community for network leaders. Have a #4 style HP now with some links, text widgets, and Buddy Press group, member streams.

Looking to shift to a two page HP design. One – for visitors that shows activity and guides members by persona type to different areas of the community. A second one for logged in members that creates a more personalized, profile-based dashboard that is focused more on helping them find new member connections, build friendship connections, access member expertise, as well as suggest content, training and discussions.


(Joe Velez) #14

I’m more interested in bounce rate for each type. Which one is better and for what type of audience?

Bounce rate anyone?

I’m asking because I use a mix/match and now get about 9% with our latest design. (We are a ad revenue driven website.)
The next step is to focus on users and make it more social. The goal is to increase member participation and ad impressions across all devices.

@julesstanden wow, just wow! vb3?! (I mean that in a good way.) With PHP7 and HTTP2 out I think now is the time to start planning your next big upgrade. Envision where you want to be and then take small steps to get there. ( You don’t want a Digg fiasco. )

(Gear Buzz) #15


We are working on portal with devs now

We found a designer

Once our rough version is done will pass to designer.

Reading this reminded me of something I forgot in my list so great timing of the post above this one. t!!!

Re future - we are now waiting for Xenforo 2.0 (it’s expected this year or next)

(Richard Millington) #16

since this one has re-appeared after so long, though I’d drop in the blog post based upon this discussion:


(Gear Buzz) #17

Thought provoking thanks.

Small typo aware should be award

(Sarah Hawk) #18

That’s a great result! Ours is closer to 30%, which clearly could do with some work. I’m curious as to what people are looking for that they don’t find. I can’t remember what SitePoint’s was, unfortunately.