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Community Experience Upgrade: Out of the Box with Project Hermes

Khoros Alumni (Retired)

Brand communities are rapidly changing as a result of broader changes in the world over the last 12 months.  In response to unforeseen circumstances, many brands had to shift priorities and resources and build new solutions. The same is true at Khoros, and we recently completed a major revamp of our technology that was not on our plan or roadmap. Since we didn't follow a typical product release and communication process you may not have heard of it.


Accelerated need for communities


It’s no secret we are living through a rough patch in human history. We are lucky to have incredible tools for digital connection - and none are more powerful than communities. In this time of change, having a brand community to build powerful networks that are more adaptable and resilient is helping many brands succeed. Other brands are therefore launching or expanding their own online communities. As a leader in the space for two decades, Khoros has built some of the most respected and successful brand communities in the world - like Airbnb, Google, Microsoft, Anaplan, eBay, Fitbit, Cisco, Sephora, Alteryx, and many more. One of the challenges we face is that new customers want to emulate these iconic, mature communities as quickly as possible. However, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Although we get better with every community we build, it still isn't possible to create these incredibly successful communities overnight. What we needed was to optimize the tools and resources we have available to help every new community achieve that success, avoid any pitfalls, and grow rapidly without needing the same level of resources as they did in the past.



New Community TemplateNew Community Template


Every new Khoros Community launch is based on years of best practice experiences and comes packaged with the optimal level of services; including front- and back-end engineering, experienced community strategists, in-person and on-demand training, and project management.  This model still works, but to respond to the changing environment, we needed to accelerate our launches while ALSO delivering more of the most recent best practices and technology innovations in this shorter time frame - either via automation or “out-of-the-box.” 


Project Hermes was the internal codename for an initiative we launched in June of 2020 in response to rapidly increasing customer demands to simplify and accelerate community launches. We created a team that spanned every department in Khoros: Product, Engineering, Professional Services, Customer Success, Sales, Marketing, and Strategy. Everyone came to the table with a list of challenges uncovered in recent community launches and we all committed to put ourselves in the customer’s shoes to create the best possible community launch (or "relaunch" - more on that later). 

We wrapped up the project in November and here is what we did.


Created a new default community theme, including:

  • More modern UX reflecting the latest responsive updates for mobile-friendly, high-performance communities.
  • Updated configurations and settings for to accommodate the newest strategies to optimize fast growth.
  • Replaced “lorem ipsum” default content with actual best practices - such as a “How to Moderate threads” forum thread. 
  • Consolidated customer-specific customizations into a single plugin to simplify installation and enablement.
  • Includes latest Accessibility capabilities driven by WCAG2.1 or RGAA (although not fully compliant on it's own).

Example "Best Practice" ContentExample "Best Practice" Content



  • Reduce the time it takes to first get “hands-on” with a community from days to hours.
  • Ensure the default UI incorporates the latest community features AND built-in instructions on how to use them.
  • Add new default custom widgets like highlighted content, blogs, leaderboards, and more.
  • Optimized the user experience across various screen sizes 
  • Accelerated launch timeline and introduced a lower cost, faster launch package to reduce the overall total cost of ownership of a community.
  • Reduced the learning curve for new managers and moderators by leveraging best practices as the default content.

What’s Next


Not only did we create a list of impactful improvements really quickly, we immediately put it to use. We have launched almost a dozen communities on the new Hermes theme AND started applying it to existing communities to improve performance and user experience. 

Updating Existing Customers with Hermes for UX & Performance

eBay is a great example of an established community that benefited from thsi new template. Like any digital property that’s been around for a while, they had a lot of customizations they had done to their communities. They even talked about it in a recent podcast!


Before: Category PageBefore: Category Page





So far, we have also seen improvements in performance - most notably page load times reduced more than 35%

We will continue to make improvements on this technology - and we have something even bigger planned for next year. 

If you are interested in learning more about Hermes for your community please contact your Khoros Account team to schedule a demo.