Hi everyone. I'm mulling some ideas for a website I'm designing (weight loss related). While I intend for it to be a community site of sorts, I'm debating which would be better: having a forum, or having community groups. I'm reluctant to choose both- I don't want to split my time in too many directions, and I don't want to start the site off with too many website features.
First, I would prefer forums but several facts have me second-guessing myself:
1) Websites of similar niches have community groups. While I don't want to copy other sites, if their target demographic is the same as mine, would those website users EXPECT to have groups available?
2) Groups double as a even planning utility for users who want to organize outings, get-togethers and meetings in the real world.
3) Users tend to have more control over their groups than they would forums and they may like this kind of control.
On the other hand, I tend to see groups as glorified forums with a different UI. If a group is just a forum with a slightly different look, I'm leaning towards sticking with a well-themed forum.
I'd love to hear any of your experiences with using forums vs. groups. Are there some situations where one works better than the other for community sites?
Well, the problem with community groups can be it is sometimes awkward for people to become a part of them right off the bat. With a forum, it's more public and open.
I'd really vote for both, but like you said, you don't want to split your attention. =p
Really it depends on what you envision for the website. Do you want it to form smaller sub-communities or act as a larger community? You could do forums with some kind of event-planning and grouping features, without having to do full blown community groups.
Thanks for the post. I'm going for a larger community rather than sub-groups; although weight loss is a very diverse topic since there's a million ways to do it, and site visitors may want to reach out to others who are using the same method to achieve weight loss as they are. I suppose I could start out with the forum with loose plans to add groups in the long run (provided the community wants it by that point). I'd imagine groups are somewhat extraneous unless you have a large user base to take advantage of it, and I'd probably be starting out small.
If I'm telling myself what I want to hear, feel free to kick me
What you can do with your forum is if you see a particular set of related topics coming up, you can create a sub-forum to accommodate for those. Thus, you could create sub-forums for various types of weight-loss plans, etc.
I agree with itdost but of course, forum is an advantage since it is open to public and anyone can participate specially when it is a bout weight loss - such an interesting topic nowadays . Why not make a forum first and then if you can see good people out there who really are loving the discussions, then that's the time for you to make a community. So you'll never have a hard time to who's who to invite to join your group.
In my point of view forums are the best.
I love forums, because they allow people to discuss, ask, or debate questions or topics. Forums have at many instances helped to voice the opinion of large number of people.
I prefer forums. I've joined tons of community groups at various sites and promptly forgotten about them even though I've continued to visit the forums. The community groups have a tendency to fragment the community, and most that I've experienced end up being very inactive with maybe one or two people regularly posting anything. I'd suggest starting with a forum and possibly splitting off some community groups later if it turns out there is a real need for them. The last thing you probably want is a bunch of nearly empty, mostly inactive community groups just sitting around doing nothing but taking up space.
thanks for the advice. I'm going to be going for a forum, but the site will have more complex user accounts so they can have a friend list function and a profile. Community groups aren't viable unless you've got an large user base that can take advantage of it, so I might add that in later on once the site membership grows.