MANAGING ONLINE FORUMS
feedback forum threads with no replies from someone with authority. It
makes it look like you have ignored your members.
Starting with Staff
Should you have a staff for your community when it launches? It is not neces-
sarily needed right from the beginning, but if you know some good people
who are interested in the subject matter of your community and would like
to become staff members, why not just go ahead and bring them on? They
can bring activity to your community, which will be very useful. Make sure
that they understand that their primary function in the beginning will be to
help start topics and stimulate the ﬂow of discussion. As the community
becomes more active, they should become moderators and help you manage
the community as appropriate.
If you do decide to have a staff, read chapter 5, ‘‘Managing Your Staff,’’
for information on how to get started.
Design, Layout, and Customization
‘‘Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the
successful one is a lot of hard work.’’
If you are going to do this the right way, you need to have a unique, custom
look. Your users will identify you by your name, but they will also become
familiar with your color scheme and the look of your site. It will be a part of
your brand and overall community experience. Your colors will remind users
of your site.
Think of design as a means of promoting your community. That may
sound a little strange, but consider this: you visit two different sites about the
same subject—one that has a custom, usable, well-put-together design and
one that has the default template that you’ve seen a million times. What is
your immediate impression? It’s probably that the ﬁrst may be something
unique, and the second may be just another community. As superﬁcial as it
may seem, appearances and ﬁrst impressions do count. You need to have
something that, at the very least, won’t hurt you. Something that is unique,