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Eight Community Site Design Tips for the Win

Written by Lauren Wolfe | on November 4, 2015 at 1:02 PM


A winning community site – we all want it and we all can have it. It starts with strong design and a careful execution of the brand. I’ve put together eight tips that you can use right now to create a community site that is a winner in the eyes of your users, staff and prospective users.


1. Start with your logo.

Your community site logo is the most essential element to the design of your community site. All of the components of your brand come from your logo and should complement it – font, color and aesthetic. Create a high-resolution image that you can use for web and print. 

2. Create a Brand Book.

A Brand Book serves as your style guide and should be referenced for all design decisions. Anyone who is working on creative elements and artwork should be given a copy. Make sure to include a color palette. Color is a very powerful tool that creates a physical and emotional reaction.

3. Choose a web font.

This makes your content is easy to read across all devices and browsers. If your brand book doesn’t include web fonts, then add one so your community site has the same governance that corporate documents and collateral does. If you haven’t looked into this yet, start with font utopia providers such as Google Fonts and Font Squirrel.

4. Use authentic photos of people.

Using authentic photos of people will boost engagement and build trust. Avoid using stock photos of people because your users will come across them on many other sites. In such cases, people photos can actually have an opposite effect due to their lack of credibility. (SEO tip: Sites with highly optimized images load faster and work better across more devices.)

5. Add more white space.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. Give your design room to breathe, and your users will be able to find things easier. White space can also make your website feel open, fresh and modern and if your branding is consistent with these then it can help you communicate that feeling to the user. White space is essential to good design and a positive user experience.

6. Mobile matters.

No surprise here – and as you know most of your users are accessing your community site via a mobile device or tablet. Responsive design allows your community site to perform optimally on multiple devices and should now be considered a requirement. If you aren’t optimized for mobile, you will be penalized in search engines. Always have mobile users in mind.

7. Be accessible.

This means every webpage of your community site should be visually approachable for every kind of user across the spectrum of visual limitations. Make design decisions like selecting layouts, text formatting, color choices and labeling to be accessible. Read more on Higher Logic blog post – Accessibility: Getting Everyone Engaged.

8. BONUS TIP from Emeri Schweigert, Creative Director, eConverse Social Media: Limit the number and size of fonts / typefaces.

Everybody loves a clean, simple design. Not only because it looks nice, but because it gets the message across in a clear and concise manner. Try not to use more than 2 or 3 different fonts with a logical hierarchy in font size to follow your content. Using this guideline in combination with ample white space will ensure your site is attractive, easy to use and encourages engagement. Good design is synonymous with a good user experience.

Feeling inspired? I hope so! Design is fun. Keep your users in mind and blend design with best practices for the win. Do you have a design tip to share? Let’s work together to expand this list. 


Topics: Marketing, Customer Experience, Member Experience, Online Community

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