Small World Community by Personify - Getting There
In general, this community has a good framework going and a lot of potential. However, since Small World was purchased by/merged with Personify, it seems that the time and effort are really going toward the CMS, rather than the community.
Our launch took place pre-merger, and went very well. It was a straightforward process and we were guided by knowedgable, friendly staff. As with most platforms, there are some pros and cons:
- Agile approach. Instead of a waterfall approach, the team continues to refine product all over instead of offering a static, solely out-of-the-box program.
- Outstanding staff. They have a group of very bright, dedicated, dynamic people who are happy to help out. Very personable and overall, outstanding.
- Good support responsiveness. Support tickets tend to be responded to immediately (or near it).
- Responsive to ideas.
- Excellent events. Conferences have been very educational and enjoyable.
- Recent modifications of back-end, including addition of Lynda-style platform training manual.
- A lot of opportunity for members to get involved and share expertise, and raise their profile in the community.
- Learning opportunities and materials.
- Currently offers little in the way of basic member management tools that are offered on other platforms.
- Private messaging is lacking. There are currently two methods where the interfaces don’t mirror each other. Formatting is terrible, and the send field is inefficient. This affects engagement campaings for the CM; drives members to communicate off-platform.
- Lag time in innovation/improvements. While it looks like some of the very basic items (moderation and management tools, better UX for private messages) may be added late summer/early fall, I've been asking for a couple of years for things like this and it’s still not done.
- Lack of communication in some areas. When staff leaves, clients do not always find out via any method other than forums (which we might not visit right away) or if we are connected on LinkedIn.
- There is no easily-accessible, clear-cut individual stage/sandbox environment post-launch. There apparently is a way to get to one, but it’s complicated. If there were a sandbox, I would have a much better handle on back-end items, such as creating pages, editing headers, etc.
- While there was a UI overhaul from an aesthetic standpoint in the back-end (which is nice) I find the the reporting is sloppy, and not always accurate.
- Back-end is cumbersome and not that intuitive; again, if there were a clear-cut sandbox, I'd likely have a better handle on some of the content management.
Essentially, there is some enormous potential here. Small World Communities/Personify has an outstanding team, and I have found them to be incredibly helpful and responsive, really going out of their way to help--even if you're not in a consultant's territory. They also have the right community philosophy, put on educational, enjoyable events and give members a chance to lead. Thie online forums are well-moderated and welcoming.
However, I find some of the technical side, and innovation in general, a little lacking. I hope that Personify is able to concentrate on the community side at some point and bring it up-to-speed with other platforms out there.