Weekly Breakdown: DreamFactory


(Sarah Hawk) #1

Hi @Alexandra_Anna_Bowen – here you go!

As with last week’s breakdown, I found your forum experience intuitive because I’m very familiar with Discourse. That said, your customisation goes a long way to making the place feel a bit more on brand than many other Discourse instances. Huge thanks to you for sharing your process – I really appreciate that. :slight_smile:

##First impression
My first impression is that of slight confusion. If I click on Community on your homepage I go here. That page seems like a huge wasted opportunity. Almost all of the visible realestate is filled with essentially nothing – the only real actionable calls-to-action [CTAs] are to get more info on the paid product, which isn’t the purpose of this page.

Some notes:

  • If it’s important to have this page showcasing the different aspects of the community (rather than going straight through to the forums) I’d consider removing the extraneous copy and replacing it with feeds from Discourse and any other social media streams that are really active.

  • These boxes could do with some love also. They’re big but don’t actually add anything to the conversation. From an accessibility perspective the contrast isn’t ideal either.

  • Once I click through to Discourse, the first thing that strikes me is the Welcome banner, which is great, but it’s not as cohesive with the rest of the site as it could be. The background image is one that I haven’t yet come across and it doesn’t make me think of DreamFactory. I’d consider the blue constellation image with the header in white. I also think there is a bit of a lost opportunity here as far as content goes. Your copy is a bit generic and not particularly persuasive. At this point I haven’t signed up so it would be great to see more persuasive messaging. It’s also pretty heavy on the exclamation marks. :wink:

  • There are 4 CTAs in the banner. What do you actually want people to do most? I’d just include that. You can put a link to the FAQs in the sub nav beside Top if you’re worried that people won’t find it, and you could put a link to the Get Started guide at the start of that (and you could also customise the hamburger menu to add it in beside the FAQ link if nec.)

  • Since I first checked your site a couple of days ago, you’ve redone the header and it looks so much better! The icons need tooltips though – the blog and question mark icons aren’t intuitive.

  • I question the need for the double header. Why not put the logo and extra icons into the primary header?

General UX

  • The community is using a slightly different version of the favicon to the main site (such a tiny ridiculous thing to pick on but it kept catching my eye)

Some of the Discourse default settings aren’t ideal:

  • Contrast wise, black text on white isn’t as easy on the eye as dark grey on light grey

  • The light grey of the category description text should be darker for accessibility reasons

  • The line length is long, making the text dense. As I mentioned in the Nethserver breakdown, ideally you want to limit to ~60 char per line. (Note that on your main site, the contrast is good but the line length is significantly too long). For anyone interested in the line length debate (it has been fairly well accepted in more recent times that shorter line lengths do work to reduce cognitive load), the comments on this article make an interesting read.

  • When I scroll down I lose your secondary header and therefore your DreamFactory blue (which is a really gorgeous shade of blue btw) and along with it, most of your brand identity – see below. Merging those headers would solve that.

I’d try something like this:

Signing up

  • There are some layout issues with the custom fields on the rego form (Chrome 51.0.2704.103 on Mac) meaning that I can’t read the questions properly

  • But even if I could, are the extra fields at sign-up necessary? I’d consider motivating people to provide this info in their profiles at a later time. At this point I’m not going to spend time thinking about valuable answers to these questions – I’m signing up to satisfy some need of my own so unless you provide me with a compelling reason to provide this info I won’t. Luckily, there is no validation on those fields. :wink:

  • Is the community only for DF users? That isn’t communicated anywhere but I’m asked what version I’m using.

  • `[Edit]: Now that I’ve done further digging I see your custom fields are displayed on the user cards. I like the theory behind this but I wonder whether members actually use this info. The missing default avatar is a Discourse bug which I’ve just reported!

The onboarding process

  • I think this is where you could make quite a big difference. I received a very generic ‘Confirm your account’ email (below) and have had no further contact. Even an automated welcome email with a really clear CTA would be an improvement, but something personal would be better.
  • Your welcome DM is the default Discourse one, which I think is a bit text heavy and overwhelming. I’d think about making that a really short, personal note of just a couple of lines and one CTA (either an intro topic or answering those extra profile questions) and link to a post containing all that info, or better yet, incorporate it in the FAQs

Logged in

  • The first thing I notice now that I’m a member (and worrying about posting) is that there is quite a high number of unanswered topics, and lots of topics with views but few responses. This might be due to the nature of the community (as opposed to an engagement issue) but without spending more time here it’s hard to diagnose, so this is an observation rather than a criticism.

  • The first thing I did was visit the welcome topic, and I felt a bit overwhelmed. It’s very long, very verbose, and there are a lot of questions. I’d cut it down significantly and just ask the most important question. I suspect that’s why it’s predominantly DF staff that have posted there. In your case that is probably what their current challenge is/what problem they are trying to solve.

  • It looks like you have a good core group of users that are willing to help each other out. I’d reach out to them and ask them to model the behaviour that you’re hoping to see – perhaps introducing themselves in the welcome thread, or welcoming others when they introduce themselves.

  • This is where I admit to being a wimp. I have drafted several posts in the Welcome thread to see what kind of response I get, but I either need to post something full of lies about what platform I use and why I’m there or post something weird and fluffy which won’t solicit a legit response anyway. From the little I know of you, I’m going to assume that you’d jump in and make me feel welcome anyway.

I hope this is valuable to you. It feels a little harsh but I’m happy to elaborate further on any of the above points.

(Alex Bowen) #4

Thank you so much for these great insights @Hawk!

I will dig into this. Thanks for helping make my community better :slight_smile:

(Sarah Hawk) #5

@richard_millington is flat out at the moment so we’ve had a chat and I’ve added another couple of points. As mentioned earlier, I’m very happy to discuss any of this further.

Search and traffic

Your SEO meta tags could do with some love. Right now they’re not descriptive and won’t necessarily pull qualified traffic. They should reflect what it is that your target audience is looking for (and would actually search for). Your title tags aren’t too bad, but your descriptions should make people want to click, and currently they’re a bit ambiguous and confusing.


  • Good use of the ‘Mark as Solved’ feature. Easy to see at a glance what still requires work and adds value for new members.
  • The MotM program doesn’t seem to be getting any engagement. I’m not sure what your ultimate goal is here, but assuming it’s about community spirit, then perhaps a CTA at the bottom of the post (to join you in congratulating the winner) might work.
  • You have a high number of categories, many with very little activity (<5 posts per year). I’d consider culling some and building up activity in the ones that are important.
  • The community seems very transactional – people ask questions and get answers. At the moment it’s quite dry and technical. Your MotM and community digests imply that you’re hoping to create more of a sense of community and relatedness. Have you considered asking a few key community members to help you turn the engagement tide?
  • The brand is engaged from a technical support perspective, but not from a social or motivational one. That would likely also help with your sense of community.
  • Your mod list could do with updating. None of those people have been around for over a year.