Lithys 2013: Elisa - Best Community Design

Lithys 2013: Elisa - Best Community Design

Company: Elisaelisa logo.jpg

Entry submitted by: Noora Halme (Noora) Community Manager

Community: Elisa Palsta (

Community: Saunalahti Palsta (

Lithy category: Best Community Design



Saunalahti and Elisa had separate discussion/help forums for several years, original launches dating back to 2005 and 2009. That makes a total of ten years of conversations and community bonding! When we decided to bring our community to the next level and moved the old forums over to the Lithium platform, we had few things to consider design-wise:


  • We wanted to keep our community clear and simple, easy to navigate, visually new but similar to what our users were used to. With a decade of history with little or none design changes, we couldn’t risk losing our members due to a radical change from classic and simple design to something very cutting edge. Our current Scandinavian design reflects the minimal taste of our Finnish users.
  • The whole web presence of Elisa and Saunalahti is being renewed during 2013, and we wanted to be the first ones to take the changes into account. Elisa is a pioneer of support communities among Finnish telecom companies, and as a community, we wanted to be pioneers also internally.
  • We were excited about the great new features that could guide our users to the most relevant and helpful content. We wanted to present kudos, solutions, subscriptions and bookmarks on our forum pages in a way that would make it possible for all of our users to find relevant content easily. Our goal is to be easy to approach and intuitive.
  • Two brands, one community. We have one community, but two separate brands. Elisa provides IPTV-services, e-books and home security systems and Saunalahti focuses on mobile and broadband services and our customers are interested in different things depending on their products and services. We want to be there to help and to listen on both brands, forum pages have to be similar, but still provide relevant content for all types of customers. This was no easy task, but we managed to do it!



Our main focus is to provide a safe and friendly environment to our customers to ask questions about our products and services - we're essentially a support forum, a challenger to traditional customer support via telephone and e-mail. The community is a natural part of our customer care for us and - more importantly - to our customers.


We have had loads of good feedback from our clear colors, simple navigation, simplicity and the visual similarity of our two forums that form one community. The usability of our forums has been much praised: even though the radical decrease of different boards, from 30 to 11 on Saunalahti and 23 to nine on Elisa, was frowned upon at first, our members soon begun to appreciate the simplicity. Bringing the kudoed posts and solutions to the forum pages has also been a much-appreciated feature. We have had an amazing growth on our community members, and what is most important, the amount of visits and the average time spent online!


Our much praised avatar collection is one of my favorite parts as well. We use clear coloring to separate our staff and even super users from other community members, we see this as an important factor that helps our new users to find the most trustworthy content. After all we have a whopping community of 50 000 members! Our basic set of avatars consists of 20 characters including these ladies and gentlemen:















We added a bunch of new at the end of 2012, including few moustached-up versions for movember (they were a hit!):















And don't tell anyone, but we still have few more in store:



Maybe we'll add few special ones for nose day and pink ribbon?


We have a long lasting tradition of choosing a member of the year, they are rewarded with a crowned version of the avatars and our superusers have their own avatar collection with a small starred banner:















Finally, here are our staff members. Orange is for admin (that would be me), green for moderators and blue for other staff. Our moderators also requested a special avatar for movember and we have a grey one for the moderators, who have already moved on:









Now that the first year of the new community has passed, we want to keep on rolling! Some of our users are very active on other communities around the web and they're constantly driving us towards better usability. Our plans for 2013 include, but are surely not limited to:

  • Ideas exchange! We’re implementing Ideas in few weeks. Our users have been wishing for “Ideas-smithy” (that would be Ideapaja in Finnish) for a long time and now we’re ready for it! The design will be even more simple than the one on our forum pages’ and we’re ready to listen the voice of our users on what they want to see and how they want to use the “smithy”.


























  • Banner rotation! New banner pictures for spring, 1st of may, autumn and perhaps also gay pride? User designed banners? Sky's the limit! Speech bubble -logo and branding aren't going anywhere, but now that we have a good grounding, we can let loose a bit.
  • Product-specific designs, new backgrounds for new product launches.
  • Even better visual integration to product pages of Elisa and Saunalahti. We'll be incorporating a new navigation bar (currently marked with a grey bar on top of the community pages) that will allow our customers to easily navigate between our product pages, help pages, forums and self services.


1 Comment
Lithium Alumni (Retired)
Status changed to: 2013 Lithy Submission