The Cadre approached me for help building a new membership site. They’d been using an old BBS system for years, but they shared it with another organization and were looking for a space of their own. Their current forum wasn’t mobile response, so their members couldn’t chime in from the field. The Cadre leaders also struggled to drive engagement on the forum and track the engagement that was already happening.
The new forum needed to have a modern design, allow the Cadre leaders to monitor member activity to ensure the forum was being used, and above all be easy for members to use.
We started by looking at the existing forum. What was working? What could be improved? And what new features would help this new forum gain traction?
With these answers in mind, I chose BBPress as our platform for its ease of use and flexibility. I built it on a clean, responsive theme that made navigating the forum easy. Then I added in BuddyPress’s social networking features to encourage interaction between the members and make it easy to see who was actively using the platform. Finally, I built in a custom tool that would allow members to upload their pictures and files from the field, which was important for the Cadre’s records.
To encourage activity, I added information about a member’s contributions to their profile page. I included email notifications about new posts, which help drive members to check the forums when they might not otherwise. Of course, I also let members opt out of that.
When I handed the forum off, I set the Cadre leaders up with all the documentation they would need to keep the forum growing on their own, like updating the site and adding new members.
Engagement on the new forum has been successful – in 6 months, 43 Cadre members have posted 94 topics and 164 replies.
You could visit championtreescertificationcadre.org, but it’s a private site, so you wouldn’t see much. I’ll let one of the Cadre leaders, Bob Leverett, tell you about how it went instead:
“Our initial meeting convinced me that you were up to the job, and you certainly proved to be. My favorite things about working with you are your pleasant personality combined with your competence and responsiveness. I’d tell anyone looking for a web developer: ‘Hire her while she’s still available. You can’t do better.'”