Migrating to a new community platform: what to/not to focus on

(joel galbraith) #1

We are working on maintaining an existing community, but starting to plan out our transition to a new platform…without upsetting the many good things we have going on in our exiting community+platform…yikes! It will be tough now, but best in the long term with increased opportunity to build engagement with our audience.

Our closed community of online college teachers is currently around 1,200 strong, but expected to grow to about 4,000 over the next couple years before it probably caps out.

Though I’ve been fairly successful at avoiding the “what tool” question, I can’t get past the notion that tools DO matter–both for community members to find content and other members and easily contribute, as well a to community admins and managers that want to know what/how well the community is doing (analytics).

For those that care…or wish to advise us here, we’re moving off of Ning.com

(Nick Emmett) #2

Welcome @jdg239, it’s great to see you here.
What’s driving the planned migration? As long as the reasons behind the move are sound then the “which platform” question is one that can’t be avoided - have you checked out CMX’s platform report?

@Mike_Collins is also looking at migrating from Ning and might be able to share what he’s found out so far?

(Sarah Hawk) #3

Good to hear from you @jdg239

I recently compiled a fairly comprehensive list of platform options at The Knowledge which might be of help.

Do you have tech resource in-house or will you be outsourcing the project?

(Jennifer Zowada) #4

Hi Joel,
In my experience when transitioning a community, the number one priority is to get the user experience right. If you have a say in selecting the platform think about the needs of the community, the call to action (how many times a member needs to click to execute a task)If you are clear about the call to action this will develop trust. Also,consider the size of the community when selecting the right platform. All are not created equal and you want to avoid latency issues. You have one shot to get the initial UX right otherwise you may lose your members and work for months to get them back.

Hope that helps a bit.

(joel galbraith) #5

So, we received a number of RFPs back from vendors, and it is a bit depressing. We are a small (1,500), semi-closed, community for online employees (online teachers). We expect to grow to about 5,000 members before tapering off our growth over the next couple years.
Vendors seem to be pricing their tools all for the for-profit market and with 20,000+ users. The role our community plays is still mission-critical to us, but not to the tune of $50K for setup and $60K to $250K annually (USD).
We sent requests out to 15 vendors and only heard back from 5. Somebody help me properly set my expectations.
sigh back to the drawing boards.

(Sarah Hawk) #6

It can be disheartening but don’t let it get you down. There are lots of options. It sounds like you’ve been looking at the larger enterprise end of the range.

I can help with expectations.

This platform (WordPress + Discourse + customisation) cost us around the $25k mark (although that doesn’t include my time, which was significant) and took about 4 months to set up (including data migration from an existing community). It costs around $3k per year to run.

There are lots of cheaper options, you’ll just need to decide how much time you have to invest in working on it.

Do you have anyone with technical or project management experience in your team?

(joel galbraith) #7

We have’t thus far had anyone super technical…which is one of the reasons we went with Ning.com in the first place. It was al stuff myself, my CM and my small team of community specialist students could do.

The University IT group may help us with some single sign on support, and perhaps some integration with our HR system, but other than that, I think we’ll have my same team above and vendor support…and of course, the vendor community and Experts community.

(Sarah Hawk) #8

To do what we did, we used me, a designer + a team of devs in India. It was very manageable.

If you want to look at non-enterprise options, I’m happy to help you narrow some down.

(joel galbraith) #9

Yes, I’m interested in discussing non-enterprise options.

Introduce yourself (or at least just say hi)
(Gear Buzz) #10

I would be interested in the Indian Dev team you used.

(Sarah Hawk) #11

Did you take a look at the platforms by price breakdown? At least 3 of the 4 in the $1-10k sections would be viable options (I don’t know anything about iAdvize). I can put you in touch with people that have experience with migrating onto any of those if you want to scope the size of the project.

We worked with Grazitti Interactive. I’d be happy to introduce you if that’s helpful. They are great at the technical stuff, brilliant at managing the project, but not very strong on design.