Forums have been around for an age, and there’s a reason why. They bring people together, allow them to communicate and express thoughts and feelings behind a layer of anonymity, a face to face conversation doesn’t always protect one in their most vunerable times. Thought goes into building a good solid forum, especially one with high traffic (like the one we built for Huggies). Here are some things to consider.
One of the ways people have interacted with one another since the Internet was in Internappies is, of course, through forums. And, while many forums can lay claim to fostering community and interaction between users, just as many forums lay waste to that same idea, and leave behind only wasted time, wasted words and wasted bandwidth.
When Huggies (did we mention it was one of the most popular parenting sites in Australia?) asked us to rebuild their forum earlier this year, we had all of this in mind. But how’s it gone so far?
Well here are some stats: Over 12,000 posts have been made by over 1,200 individual members in one week. The longest post has over 2,800 replies and counting. It’s had more than 600,000 posts since it was launched, and the company’s experts are now receiving more than 100 questions a month.
This is all summarised neatly in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald:
Through the forum, Huggies is able to build a strong relationship with parents that hopefully builds loyalty to Huggies products. The options for communication and interaction that web 2.0 technologies present are widening rapidly.
There are a few things that mark out the Huggies forum. The presence of experts helps to guide user-generated discussions along helpful paths – users can submit questions and get them answered on a one-to-one basis, as well as discuss related answers together. It also helps that the forum is focused around a singular topic, parenting and pregnancy, and while it might seem to be an obvious thing to say, that topic is one that the core audience is keen to discuss.
Lesson for the day, when you’re building interactivity for users: spare a thought (and hopefully a bit more) for what that interactivity will mean, both for the user, and for the client.