What works on DIYfather.com
Posted September 1, 2009on:
I’m on the look-out for cool drupal community sites at the moment – so I’ve been checking out DIYfather.com. The site was set up by some enterprising fathers in New Zealand and seeks to give dads a place to learn and interact with one another.
In terms of lessons to learn from the diyfather.com user experience, here are three things that work well, and three things that could be better, and why:
Ever-present chance to participate: Wherever you go on the site, there is a call to action to ‘Send us your article’ or ‘Post your question.’ This is important – a community site needs to constantly flag up opportunities to participate – they shouldn’t be lost as users go deeper into content. If this isn’t done, if a user arrives on a site page from a search engine or other referral, there is a risk they will read the content without realising they can get involved too.
Demonstrating credibility: The display of media where the site has been featured serves two functions – it seems to led weight to the site from the more established brands – and it shows the site has a buzz around it, and is therefore a place worth giving attention to.
Human faces: Showing the type of person who is already using and participating in the site will encourage others to do the same. In this case ideally the site user needs to see the picture and profile description and think ‘that’s a guy just like me’ – therefore ‘this is a site for a guy like me’. diyfather introduces several fathers and their stories thus, “Here is a brief overview of DIYFather writers and people who have submitted their stories for DIYFather.com.”
Setting unclear expectations: It is important to be careful with language – not to use terms that can be misconstrued and lead to false expectations on the part of users. The word ‘forum’ of course, can be used to describe a place where ideas are shared in different ways, however on a community site users are likely to think you mean ‘discussion forum’. Despite introducing their important about us section like this, there aren’t actually any discussion forums on diyfather.com:
Failure to signpost where the action is: The site claims to be an interactive forum, but where is the interactivity and how can a user find it? Comments are buried at the bottom (see circled area below) one click away from articles, and there is no way of telling which have the most comments without scrolling through to find out. Pointing out where there has been user activity will encourage others and lead to more interaction – this site could benefit from features such as a ‘most commented’ and ‘most shared’ – to indicate that others are taking the time to participate.
Random video: People like to know what they are about to watch – so this feature that plays random videos from the diyfather channel on YouTube is hardly user-friendly. Videos range from serious discussion about parenting to a film clip of a desert scene where a threat to violate a mother is warded off by a couple of fathers. The risk here is that a user will not like a particular video and feel it is indicative of the entire site – whereas it is just one example of what they could find. Creating an area that gives a proper explanation for each video would be much better. By all means a random video player is worth considering – but in addition to giving the user more control over what they are about to watch.