Entry submitted by: Noora Halme (Noora) Community Manager
Community: Elisa Palsta (palsta.elisa.fi)
Community: Saunalahti Palsta (palsta.saunalahti.fi)
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:
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:
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