Planning and developing a community platform


(Sarah Hawk) #1

Continuing the discussion from So, what are you working on?:

I have decided to create a new topic to respond to you @KDawson because this is an important subject and I don’t want it to get lost in the noise.

There are many platforms out there and it’s impossible to recommend one without having a better understanding of your needs. The key questions are how technical are your team (it sounds like you have some knowledge yourself), what do you want the community to do (do you need a blog, do you want a discussion forum, do people need to chat etc), and what is your budget?

[quote=“KDawson, post:118, topic:1328”]
But how do you really know 1. Who is any good? 2. Who can create exactly what you want?
[/quote] You have to decide what it is that you really want first. Then the safest option is getting a referral from someone else that is happy with what they have.

[quote=“KDawson, post:118, topic:1328”]
The price differences between the various options offered?
[/quote] I can help you with that once we’ve figured out what it is that you need. This platform guide is also really helpful (although it’s already pretty dated – there are more options around now.) Do you have some idea of your budget? Are you comfortable giving us some idea of what your community is for, how you see it being used, what your projected growth is etc? (We do offer platform needs analysis and recommendations as a service, but I’m happy to help you out here if you’re comfortable sharing the information publicly – it will help others in the future.)

[quote=“KDawson, post:118, topic:1328”]
Is it better to buy a platform already created (like vBulletin) and hire a coder to customize it?
[/quote] It is almost always better to get something already created, but NOT vBulletin. Going bespoke sometimes seems like a great idea but it is very costly and you’re essentially just recreating the wheel. There are so many great open source platforms out there these days that you can get the bones of a great platform and then customise it if necessary to suit your needs.

[quote=“KDawson, post:118, topic:1328”]
I see most people use Wordpress, so is it as simple as finding a WP coder and hiring them? Do most WP users use BuddyPress? Has anyone worked with a developer they would recommend?
[/quote] Yes, no and yes.

WP is great if you want to incorporate a blog. It is simple to use, highly customisable and intuitive because people are used to it. Yes, it’s as simple as finding a WP dev, choosing a theme, and going for it. No, most WP users don’t use BuddyPress. It’s not bad, but it’s fairly cumbersome and limited. It’s starting to look a bit dated. This site is WP integrated with Discourse. You can also integrate WP with MUUT or NodeBB (and probably others). Some platforms (like Standing on Giants) have a CMS built in, but it’s pricy.

We used a fantastic development team to build this site, and I’d highly recommend them if you want to go down the WP route.

Does this give you somewhere to start?


(Kim Dawson) #2

Thanks @HAWK. I’m happy to give you some more information, but from what it sounds like, I should find a WP developer who will know the best integration for what I want to do. Basically I will need the following: Blog, Videos, Forum, and a Calendar. The site will allow users to post questions, comment, and share ideas. There will be a component which offers instructional and topic videos, a blog (which may be both video and written). Subscribers will be able to sign up for online events such as webinars or online group meetings (that will take place with something like GoToMeeting). This will be a member-only site, memberships will need to be approved, and will be subscription-based.

I mentioned BuddyPress because I thought that was the forum add-on to WP, but I assume there are many others? You gave some recommendations, which I can take a look at. If you have recommendations for web developers, I’d be happy to check them out.

Thanks!


(Sarah Hawk) #3

[quote=“KDawson, post:2, topic:1726”]
Subscribers will be able to sign up for online events such as webinars or online group meetings (that will take place with something like GoToMeeting). This will be a member-only site, memberships will need to be approved, and will be subscription-based.
[/quote] That is all do-able with WordPress plugins (we have a subscription-based model) but will require some fairly heavy technical lifting to get it all up and running.

[quote=“KDawson, post:2, topic:1726”]
I mentioned BuddyPress because I thought that was the forum add-on to WP
[/quote] And you’re correct – both BuddyPress (social networking plugin) and bbPress (forum plugin) are free community plugins for WP. They are fully functional, but don’t offer the great UX that many of the newer open-source products do.

Here are some examples of bbPress forums
And some examples of BuddyPress