Articles, Inspiration

10 Things a Successful Online Community Can’t Live Without

November 17, 2010 • By

Online communities range from discussion boards to image or video sharing, or to just chatting and messaging. There are plenty of elements that are the key to the success of these online communities, and without them, many of these communities will not be as popular or as successful as they are today.

Despite all these different types of communities, they all generally share many different elements or guidelines or rules that are followed to make them as successful as they are today. We cover ten elements or things that have been determined as ten elements or things that a successful online community cannot live without.

Design, Design, and Design

The design of a community is such a huge element or factor that really makes or breaks a community, and to bring design into example, we discuss Google’s design and its affect on us.

We all have a favorite search engine whether be it Google, Bing, or Cuil. What really keeps us loyal to these services or search engines are many factors, results, relevancy, and many others, however, one key element that hinders our decision despite that mentioned would be design.

Google users love Google for their simplistic and straightforward design, the background color works well with the foreground colors, and what we came for is available straight away and the main focus of the search engine. Similarly, for online communities, you can have the best of people on these communities; however, if the design is unbearable people including ourselves begin to find an alternate community instead.

Design does not just relate to the way things are laid out and what is in focus or not, it additionally relates to the type of design that is provided based on the online community. For example, if you frequent a gaming discussion board , you expect to see a gaming like and exquisite design, but you land to only see a generic design in place, as a viewer, you are less intrigued into staying with that community as it does not express the gaming dedication or feel it tries to purvey.

Therefore, make sure the design layout, color scheme, and theme all fits in with the type of online community and the audience you are trying to target, as it is indeed a key to making an online community successful.


Successful online communities do not begin with a plethora of content available, but instead, it is built with content overtime and on the initial availability of the online community.

With that said, successful online communities’ reach where they are today through their content and by staying focused on the category, topic, or subject matter they have chosen initially. By expanding their subject or core focus to other categories, a community may no longer target its intended audience, but instead trying to target a set of audiences, and in the end, running too thin, reaching failure.

Tools to Make it a Community

An online community cannot live without the tools it needs to be classified as an online community. Eliminate core tools for discussion such as user-to-user communication, or the proper methods of getting discussions posted, the community will quickly fall apart as it becomes difficult for community members to communicate.


As a general rule in successful online communities or online communities in general, users or community members love to see the communities they participate in evolve, this includes the addition of new community members, new tools to convey messages, as well as the evolution in the design, always aimed toward improvement and to keep community members satisfied.

Community members always want to feel that the folks behind the community care about the community members rather than for their own benefit, and to show them this, changing and adding new elements to improve the community gives them this satisfaction, and without such actions, a successful online community cannot be where it is today.


Online communities thrive on activity, without it the communities slowly change, and are used less causing once active members, to begin to find an alternate community. Therefore, assuring your community is active is all in the way you market and reach new potential members, of which should be done often despite how successful an online community may be, as members who may be loyal today, may leave the next.

Response and Feedback

A community is built around response and feedback, and without it, there is no satisfaction provided or given to fulfill community wants and needs. Therefore, many successful online communities constantly respond to user or member feedback to keep them as continued and loyal members to the community rather than search for an alternate that actually responds to user or member feedback.

One Step Ahead

Many successes to online communities are due to communities being one-step ahead from their competitors. Without this step forward and always satisfying their users’ wants and needs before they need it or request it, they keep their users or members at the edge of their seats all the time, and wanting to continue to be part of the community to continue to wait to see what you have next for them. By not being a step ahead in the game, communities risk their continued success rate greatly.


In today’s world, every user or community member wants to integrate their other favorite tools or communities or social networking services with your community, and without this connection, users sometimes feel disconnected from the rest of the internet world. With that said, many successful online communities continue to be successful due to having these connections or widgets with other services or social networks their members or users request.

Good Search Engine Optimization

Online communities are generally built around user generated content, and because user generated content is never known until made available, it becomes slightly more difficult to be able to optimize the text for search engines. However, with some good optimization improvements, it can definitely be made possible.

Without good search engine optimization, online communities generally do not expand, and if they do not expand, they do not become as successful as envisioned, or they may lose traffic and community members due to the cause of changing techniques and lesser search engine optimization improvements. With that said, always assure your online community is greatly optimized for search engines, as it is a key to success.

Multi-Platform Availability

Online communities are all about being available across multiple platforms as that is a key to their growth and expansion, which ultimately leads to their success. Without making your online community available across multiple platforms, its success rate is risked greatly as it becomes limited to where it can be accessed and utilized.

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