Looks like your site is doing pretty good. You have over 4,000 members right now. Our site doesnt have near that many.
I agree, the site looks pretty good. :-)
4,000 users? lol. How do you get that many? I only have 100 or so. We have 600 on our facebok page but people aren't going further and making accounts with us...?
Thanks Paul and Sean- Actually, of those 4,000 + members, only a fraction (maybe about 10%) are active members; The others simply submitted a profile and have never been back altho that is good for "numbers" just like a newspaper needs large circulation, so I leave them as members...
Nice job so far. I'll offer some quick feedback and if you want to get more into detail that's fine too.
Design Sense: I think you have a fun background theme there, but I don't think it really supports an industry business and networking concept. The header background, site name, and tagline are too simplified and contrast poorly with the rest of the page IMHO. I would aim for a cleaner look and feel- one that demonstrates more attention to professional quality and that members would be attracted to for associating their reputations to. The strength of your presentation may be visual profile and in studio shots. I'd make those more prominant with some text box paneling featuring aspects of the site you want to draw attention to.
Web Usability: I think you've got too many tabs. I'd go with more major categories and try sub-tabbing the rest as appropriate. In terms of guiding the experience, those tabs do sort of offer a value proposition, but I would actually integrate more of those with summary descriptions into the body of your main page.
Optimizing End-User Experience: If you want to increase visits, engagement, and donations, then I think you need to present it as more of an active event. That could be a number of things from audio presentations, webinars, featured member interviews, etc. Rather than taking a passive approach behind the member activity as it is, drive the main activity. You can set it up for more formal social media campaigning whether that be you or various members that want the spotlight for a while. Altogether, something like that would reinforce a periodic newsletter, social blasts, serve as new marketing collateral for industry outreach, and be something members would be motivated to promote for their own benefit.
Thanks much Anthony- What you pointed out are things I have actually thought about and I will definitely be doing some revising- Thanks again for the feedback!
My pleasure Robert,
Just let me know if you would like me to clarify or go into more detail.
The "Featured Member Interview" is a great idea also that I had considered!
O.K. Robert, since you mentioned it, I'll share some of my thinking on how doing a featured member interview could be done in the context of my other suggestions.
Let's start by orienting to the "profile shot" photographic element. What I'm talking about is the kind of publicity photo you might see in a magazine article- something that features a media personality up close and personal, but especially professionally done. Some of your members will already have PR kits with a number of selected photos like this, others can be sold on the idea of going out and getting these done, and where cost is an issue this can usually be improvised from a members personal collection in conjunction perhaps with some relatively accessible editing software. For full effect, you would incorporate a number of these throughout the presentation.
So what I'd like you to imagine is a main column text box on your site that shows maybe one or two of these photos. You present it like this month's featured media personality or whatever, lead off with an upper body shot- perhaps showing them standing with their arms crossed or some other confident gesture.
Then a little paragraph along the lines of "we met with so an so for an in depth interview yada yada" and then perhaps another shot of them in studio...
followed by an intro excerpt, and finally call to action check out the full interview here.
Then I would present a forum discussion along the same lines using a close-up detail like so.
The neat thing about using a forum post is that you can allow other members to jump into the conversation. The share options are solid, and if I recall- leading off with a photo you would get the same icon on a Facebook share. I would do this in parts so you don't have to worry about getting it in all on one post. But, you could still do it all on one thread. As an audio/ radio niche, you might also do a blogtalkradio type interview, link it in text, and use the discussion to summarize.
"With a little html coding, you can work out some interesting text wraps around photos and also to some call out quotations in larger font in select places."
Now such a closeup photo with a little graphic enhancement could be your go-to banner for the period they are featured- so weekly or monthly, etc. You get your brand name and tagline in there and also a selected quote again from the interview and you may be in business.
By extension, you could repeat this same kind of thing applied in different contexts. So perhaps a featured blog, or a featured group. I call this paneling and I find it preferable to indescrete module activity feeding. Being more selective with what you feed- perhaps featuring specific content from audio, video, forum, blogs, photos, etc. The Latest Activity feed is generally good to show on a side column set at 20, but the rest of the body can be more focused and media intensive. Doing this, you direct activity to the various modules and points of interest at a given time. So you can actually reduce the reliance on top nav and simplify it.
Finally, rather than pitching the value of members getting featured, you can sell that without saying it. In other words, do a better job of featuring and people will be coming to you to get in on what they are seeing.
Thanks for your time Anthony, I appreciate your detail (sorry it took so long to reply) and I will consider all these suggestions when I make changes- I understand full well what you mean too about getting a more professional overall look and appeal and I do agree.
I have taught myself everything I know. I use to use WordPress which is great except that I spent more time learning the curve than getting anything done- That is why I decided to use Ning, as all that mechanical work is already done for us. My mind is often "spinning" when I am implementing these ideas and I feel overwhelmed at times so I simply log off to "catch my breath" often leaving unfinished business!
No problem Robert,
Actually, I recently wrote some articles on Ning Creators you might enjoy reading on your free time then.
Check out 10 Reasons To Keep It Simple Stupid.
Nice site! very clean and has its own niche, keep up the good work bro!
Thank You Armani!