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NC for Hire

So, I've been experimenting with a new way of presenting a reimagined Getting Started Guide for my community.  I have visited many communities which have a getting started guide which is outdated (ie creator stated number of members which has grown for example) and clunky.  For so long we have wondered about the best things to clue new members into when joining that we may have forgotten that clear instructions for how to best engage our communities are ever evolving and can change quite often.   Those who are truly unfamiliar with HTML will find the process of updating a guide regularly quite hard to manage and frustrating to control on Ning (especially 2.0). When building a Getting Started Guides we also can sometimes forget that the moment someone signs up may not be the moment they are ready to learn all of the features and wonderful things our communities offer. We need to provide an interactive way for members to learn at their own pace, giving them the ability to return to the guide on their own time and see noticable progress while digging deeper into the community. 

Community Compass

So I have developed a proof of concept that I call "Community Compass" which I would like to collaborate with all of you on. Let's build the best Getting Started Guide ever!  First I'll show you my customized working version which is far from perfect and will change as time goes on (feedback welcome).  Next, I'll explain to you how it was built , what it accomplishes and what it can do with code to follow, if enough of you are interested.  Finally, (again, if you guys are interested), I have built a stripped down version of this template with progress bars that you can fully customize on your own and add to your network.  Let's begin

Picture This:  You are a new member who has signed up and been accepted to the community.  After acceptance you are redirected (or pointed towards in welcome email) to a page on your network where you have iframed in an all inclusive Community Compass, like so:

Now what you are looking at is a stripped down and then customized  Google Sites website, managed through a Gmail account, iframed into a page on one of my networks which can open full screen.  Each page represents both things I would like for new members to know and a step towards deeper engagement within the community, indicated by a small progress bar for each step.  In this case, I have obviously installed it into a 2.0 network but it can be integrated into 3.0 Ning sites as well.  The Guide itself is responsive and will layout on mobile devices as well, and can even be used to send newsletters using App Scripts. 

Working on a way to automatically redirect mobile phones to mobile version of guide rather than iframed version on this page.

About The Google Sites Aspect of This

Google Sites all have an https:// protocol meaning they are secure and can be restricted to allow access only to those who have permission.  This makes sites very useful for building things like Facebook Apps (example) , Wiki style sites and in our case a robust multipage Community Compass.  Sites can also easily be mapped to a subdomain of your site in less than 5 minutes.  With sites, you can also configure your search feature to use a Google Custom Search Engine as the default search engine on the site, so although members may be using the guide for what it is intended, it can also be a quick method for finding what you are looking for within a community.  Here is the GSites version which i plan to map to when all said and done.

UPDATE///////GET V.1

Version 1.0 of Community Compass

Get Community Compass Version 1

Step 1) Visit this page while signed into your Gmail account and click Use Template
Step 2) Change the name and URL of the site to match your community needs.  You'll now be able to find it inside your account
Step 3) Edit, Replace and Add to any page by clicking the pencil icon up top right of any page.  Customize until your hearts content..pages edit just like a word document.
Step 4)  Go to this page to get the code for iframing the minisite into your 2.0 or 3.0 Ning site.  (if enough of you are interested, I can show you how to embed it as a facebook tab too)  Be sure to ask any questions that you might have about customizations for Google Sites.
Step 5 optional) Edit the welcome message on your site using the language editor to point to the new getting started guide on your site

Plans for Version Two:

Version 1 is basically used for increasing engagement within your community, give quick links to most important areas of site and introduce your site to new members.  Version 2 will have a slightly more dynamic way of calculating progress and should be a breeze for those who want to use the Version 1 and upgrade it later to include the script i'm building.  Many will not need a dynamic profile specific progress bar, so I am releasing version 1 so you can start customizing your community compass.

Some Initial Tips:

- You can configure the search feature to use your Google Custom Search engine (tell me if you need a walkthrough)

-You can use images from your own site to replace mine and to save bandwidth on your free google site (only get 100mb for free)

-Works seemlessly with other Google Products so you can import Google Docs, Maps, Calendars, G+, Presentations, etc.

Over to You... Some Questions I am Pondering..

Do you see value in providing a dynamic getting started guide to online communities which members can return to anytime?

If you had a template (controllable from your gmail account) which had all of the essential items for steps and progress in place, would you  customize the pages to reflect your community values?

What are the features and instructions that you provide new members when they first join your community?

Any other thoughts you might have about Community Compass..

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  • NC for Hire

    I think this is a great idea. It is am ambitious project because I imagine it is like creating another entire site. I sort of understand most of what you say here but trying to understand the dynamic part. It would seem that there would need to be a customized guide for each member to track their progress. Is that how it would work?

    One post that I wish Ning had paid attention to is the one you made about allowing NCs to create a member checklist. They seemingly incorporated this in 3.0 for network creator but don't understand why they thought it would not be as useful for us to use with our members. Just stumps me.

    • NC for Hire

      Ambitious yes... but a lot of work, not really.... took me an afternoon to put mine together combining tips I spread all over my 2.0 site.... should have the template boilerplate up tonight if others are interested in trying it out... pretty much plug and play at this point..thanks for chiming in Garfield...

  • JF The link in the initial email notification didn't work (tried 3x) but I'm glad I tracked down your post.  This is a brilliant idea

    • NC for Hire

      terrific.. glad you like it.. will be finishing this post up over the next couple of days.. Thanks Kos

  • NC for Hire

    Version 1 of Community Compass Now Available

  • NC for Hire

    Just a quick note to let those of you who are using the Community Compass that I have added a new way to communicate with your new members using Google+ Hangouts.  You will notice that I have added a new Start a Hangout Button to the template.  If you have not yet copied over the template to your account, it will be included in the Version 1 of the Community Compass.

    If you have already begun customizing your template, no worries.  Here is how you add a Hangout button to your mini-site.

    How it works

    For the Hangout Web Conference there are two fields:

    • Emails
    • Profile IDs
    Email: Self-explanatory, your Google Email account.
    Profile ID: Check your Google + URL. Mine is Landsurveyorsunited, because my Profile on Google Plus URL is .  The + symbol is not needed in the field.
    For the Phone Call Button
    • Just your phone number, no spaces, dashes, parentheses, etc.

    Hope this is a new and exciting way for you to introduce your communities to new members!  Let me know if you need any help whatsoever.

  • The Get Template button is not working.

This reply was deleted.

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