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By Perry Eising in News & Announcements

The Road to Community: Part Four — Debut

Over the last few installments of this blog post series [1,2,3], I’ve been chronicling the journey we’ve been undertaking — from the first shaky steps of planning and evaluation, and then on to the actual nuts and bolts of bringing Community to life.

After quietly launching to some of our most trusted stakeholders, we felt confident enough to throw the doors open and debut what we have been working on to the public. It’s been just a few days, but we’re tremendously excited about the promise we are seeing. We’re conducting an internal retrospective of our launch, but here’s a few things we’re ready to share.

Coupling the launch of Community to a product launch increased our pageviews by 3x

We had known for some time that we would be launching a new product, Netlify Dev, at the New York installment of our popular series, JAMstack_conf. (Join us in London in July, or in San Francisco for our flagship conference in October.) We introduced Netlify Dev with a bang, and it totally paid off: Netlify Dev stayed pinned to the top of Hacker News for the better part of a day.

Photo by Mikito Tateisi on Unsplash

But we also made the important decision to soft-launch Community a week ahead of JAMstack_conf New York. This meant opting out of a bigger media campaign around the launch of Community — something we offset by encouraging new users in person and across our other channels to discuss Netlify Dev in Community. We easily tripled our pageviews for Community on Netlify Dev release day using this tactic, and got vital product feedback this way.

Doing a lot of the heavy lifting ahead of time upped our contribution quality

As already documented in my previous blog posts, we spent time thinking about the kind of forum we wanted to have — both in terms of the information we wanted to seed Community with, as well as the tone and vibe we wanted Community to have. We also made sure we put a careful Code of Conduct in place, as well as actionable posts full of information to guide Community members towards creating the best questions possible. As a result, we immediately saw people in Community interacting positively and encouragingly with each other, taking the time to introduce themselves, and thanking both us and each other for help they received. I feel absolutely sure we that our careful approach set the tone we wanted to create.

Soft launching Community gave us valuable opportunities to troubleshoot

We spent a good couple of weeks beta testing with our stakeholders (meetup organizers, enthusiasts, and many more) making sure we got as close to “done” as possible before launch. Test-driving our Community in beta allowed us to zero in on areas that needed more work before our user volume increased, for example, where notification bots were concerned. We spent some time writing some custom integrations for our internal Slack workspace, which helps take the guesswork out of identifying posts that need attention.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Some other things we noticed right away:

  • Internal training is a must-have. After noticing that many people inside Netlify wanted to participate, but had different levels of familiarity around using forum software, I quickly scheduled a lunch-and-learn, and started putting together tutorials and accessible short guides.
  • Tracking data and metrics is crucial. Every time I look at data in the Discourse dashboard, I see another interesting piece of information I want to track. For example, I am seeing searches for things we hadn’t even considered show up in our frequent queries. We will be doing a lot of work to align Community with our performance metrics.
  • Automation gave us fine-grained control. As mentioned above, we have been working to create custom Slack integrations that allow us to more easily monitor posts in need of responses. In the future, our bots will also alert us to accounts and posts needing attention, and simplify other tasks as well.

It’s still early days for Netlify Community — we’ve only been live to the public for a few weeks so far, and have much ground left to explore as far as spreading the word goes. That said, we’re already seeing the many ways in which Community can support us in facilitating the best user experience possible when using Netlify for our customers. Community is for everyone who is excited about the JAMstack and modern approaches to building websites and apps. We have contributors from all over the world helping each other solve problems, talking about meetups, showing their work, sharing resources, and having fun.

If you are curious about Netlify Community – come see us. Create an account from scratch or log in to Community with your Netlify login. See you there!