Weekly Breakdown: FSN Network


(Sarah Hawk) #1

This week’s breakdown is of the FSN Network community, which is running on Drupal.

##First impression

  • Landing on the homepage I can see at first glance that there is an online community and a wider community. The differentiation is clear, which is great.

  • The bulk of the homepage real estate is taken up with a scrolling carousel advertising upcoming events and resources, which is useful, but it is huge and the banner about the TOPs program below is unnecessarily large. I’d consider moving the banner to the bottom of the page and making the carousel half the size so that your featured content is more visible. I’d also consider adding a community item to the carousel and adding a clear CTA to register for the forums.

  • Another option would be to add a forums slide into the carousel, similar to the resource library one.

  • I love that there is featured community content on the homepage, but I notice that this post is 2 months old and has no responses. Unless there is a reason why this discussion is really important and needs visibility, I’d consider using fresh, engaging content here.

  • There is a slight layout issue also:

  • Clicking through to the forums takes me to a page with an interesting banner which sets the scene, a clear description of purpose, and a list of available categories. Excellent!

Search and traffic

  • Good meta title and description. Clear purpose which should draw relevant traffic.

  • Are these the most important sitelinks? In order to include Discussion Forums you could consider demoting one or more of the others.

General UX

  • There is a lot to like here! The grey text on the wheat coloured background is easy on the eye. The base font size is good. The font hierarchy is great. Links underline on hover, making it very obvious that they are links.

  • A couple of very minor points - all the links states are the same, meaning that I can’t see what I’ve read. I’d consider making visited links a different colour.

  • I’d also look at increasing the size of the main navigation items, especially the drop down menus. This text is very small.

  • It’s slightly confusing that the Featured Event heading is so different from the other featured items. It would make sense if that was because it was the most important thing, but then it shouldn’t be right at the bottom of the page.

  • The same thing could be said of the email harvesting form. It is right at the very bottom of the page.

  • The CTA to register for the community is very tiny and easy to miss. I’d think about making this into an onpage form, or a button that stands out at the very least.

These are pretty minor points though. Great work.

Signing up

  • I love that there are clear instructions around username restrictions and email. I was a bit surprised at not being asked to set a password at this point though.

  • The very long list of subscription checkboxes at this point feels unnecessary. The goal here should be to capture registration information as quickly as possible. People could set their preferences once their account has been created.

  • I like the clear instruction once I’ve submitted the form, but it would have been good to know that I was going to go through a vetting process that may take some time before I got to this point. It would be helpful to have my expectations around timing managed here also. How long does the approval process take? Should I sit and wait or could it take a day or two? I’d add a note to that effect at the start of the registration form.

  • I received an email along the same lines as the message above (although it went to Spam). Again, it would be good to get an indication of waiting time here.

The onboarding process

  • ~7 hours after registering I received your acceptance email (also in Spam). I’m curious about the approval process. What is the reason for it and is everyone approved?

  • I like the tone of your email. Although obviously automated, it’s friendly and feels personal. I’d split it into two separate emails. Send through the login information first, and then follow up with the CTA and more info email once I’ve set my password. As it stands, I think people will stop reading once they get to the login information.

  • I clicked on the link to the conversation that you recommend in the email and it hasn’t had a response for close to a year. I’d choose a current, busy discussion here – something with a very low barrier to entry. A welcome or introduction topic where I can see how others interact and what kind of language/tone people use. It’s really important to do everything you can to try and get me engaged at this point.

Logged in

  • This is where things get a bit confusing for me. It’s not immediately obvious that I’m logged in. The tiny Register link has now changed to a My Account link, but that’s very easy to miss. I’d expect to see my avatar somewhere, indicating that I’m logged in and with which account.

  • The next thing I notice on the forum homepage is that there don’t seem to be any people around. There is no evidence of other members or of activity or engagement. It would be great to see a list of the latest posts (with avatars). If you think that people need instant visibility of the category list, I’d think about putting an activity feed widget on the side.

  • The list of categories is pretty long and more than half of them haven’t had a post for over a year, some for 2 or more years. It might make sense to archive some of these.

  • It would be useful to send a private message at the point where I activate my account so that I can familiarise myself with the platform – seeing where notifications display and where to find private messages are quite fundamental platform learning paths.

  • On further digging it seems that private messaging isn’t actually available, which is pretty unexpected these days. Is there a deliberate reason for not offering that option? At this point I’m starting to feel a bit disconnected.

  • I decided to try and figure out who the staff are/who I could connect with, but clicking on anyone else’s username gives me an Access Denied error.

  • There is no obvious member list anywhere, no profile/member cards or pages, and no indicator of when someone was last active.

  • I decided to make my first post. There was no obvious way to get out of my profile and find the discussions. Clicking on the logo takes me back to the main site homepage and there is no link to the forums outside of the dropdown in the primary nav bar. Once I’m within the forum itself, there should be a standard one click back to the main community homepage (in this case the category listing). The breadcrumbs that are used in other parts of the forum would work here too.

  • Once I get to posting stage, there is quite a lot of ambiguity around what is a discussion and what isn’t. All the links look the same, but some have clear ‘Post Reply’ buttons, and others have no indication of anything. Take the topic below for example. It ends by asking a question, but there is no way to answer. Is this actually a discussion?

  • I love this “If you’re interested…” suggestion prompt.

  • A couple of side notes: This page seems to be broken and the layout of the radio buttons on this page is a bit confusing.


  • The appearance and accessibility of the site is really good, barring some small navigation hiccups.
  • Outside of the automated emails, I felt like I was left to fend for myself a bit. Some personal handholding would go a long way to resolving that, and that should be achievable given that applications are individually vetted.
  • The community area feels like a bulletin board, rather than somewhere that people interact. If the primary goal is to provide information, then it’s doing the job. If you’re hoping to build activity and member interconnection, then I’d start by undertaking some pretty extensive engagement work, and then increase the visibility of that activity.

I’m happy to dig deeper into any points above if you have questions or want to explore further. There are a lot of small changes that you could make that would have an immediate positive effect. :slight_smile: