The Dolphin Engagement Problem

CALTRADE posted 16th of October 2012 in Community Voice. 32 comments.

If there is one thing new members here need to know about Boonex it is that it is primarily a development company, and they are pretty good at it.   They always get the community here excited about the next version and usually it does look pretty good - so people wait for it, or they delay features, or they just keep a glimmer of hope alive.   All this masks what I think is a huge problem here - we have a dark little secret - most of our projects here are failures, or at best rather lame. 

Every once in a while someone will post here asking "what is the most successful site using Dolphin".  The answers are usually disappointing.  We hear that the most successful sites are "secret" - I know that one guy here has a dating site in the tens of thousands of members but that is the exception - most of us get stuck at a few hundred members, and that is after massive effort.   During the last such thread the head of Boonex came on, again with that "secret" explanation, but mentioned that they had worked on a site with 8,000 members.  For a technology that has been around this long that is really nothing to brag about. 

I have been working my ass off on a site for startup company founders at http://World-Startups.com .  I am determined to stop failing at this, so am throwing everything but the kitchen sink at it.    Still, after a huge amount of effort I have just over 100 members - most of whom I have had to beg to join, and the growth has been anything but stellar. 

A few days ago, I got a message in my RSS feed about a new site for Startups http://http://hub.startuprev.com/.   The guy had basically just slopped it together using Social Engine but already it is bigger than my site, and is growing much faster.  What bothers me even more though, it that it is immediately engaging - people are actively posting there constantly and it is growing as an actual "community" - unlike my site which is just sitting there stagnant except for the posts I make.  

I'm not saying I know what the answers are, but I think this is a serious issue that should be addressed - at least as much as "the next big thing".   Maybe we should have some face to face video conferences to discuss it, maybe there should be some "best practices" case studies -anything.   More cool software isn't going to solve this, and I think it is a serious problem. 

  

 

 

 
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houstonlively
The first thing I notice when opening both sites, is that http://hub.startuprev.com is instantly more visually interesting. It has some eye catching colors that immediately pique the senses. It's not a great template, but it's better than the default uni template.

My first impression when looking at a dolphin site with the default uni template is 'Boring'. I would expect that most other internet users would have the same first impression of instantaneous boredom.... although they may not know see more why they are feeling that way.

I really think you should change the look to something more visually interesting. I use this template for a business site I am working on: http://www.gorpus.com/dolphin7/index.php?skin=net

Open it up in a browser tab next to http://World-Startups.com and switch back and forth a few times. What are your first impressions of both looks?
CALTRADE
@HL - I agree that my site could use some visual improvements, but I don't think that is this issue. I am not even sure we can provide the kind of capability that is on that Social Engine site - where people can quickly and easily post and people can comment. I didn't really post this for people to critique my site, though you can do that if you want. It is really comparing apples to oranges. If, however, you know of a Dolphin site that is successful and "immediately engaging" I would see more certainly like to see that.
houstonlively
All I am saying is, that I believe you are overlooking a very important point.... that of aesthetic appeal. You drew a comparison between your site and the other, and believe that the other is growing faster because of the social engine platform. That may or may not be the case. It certainly isn't because the other site has more compelling content, because it doesn't. It definitely isn't because the other site has a better set of features, because it doesn't. I simply pointed out one obvious see more thing the other site has that yours doesn't. Maybe better visual appeal will improve growth rate, maybe it won''t.... but how will you ever know?

You said you were throwing everything at it but the kitchen sink, Did you mean to say, "I am throwing everything at it but the kitchen sink or a fresh new look."? What have you got to lose? (Except the $40 price of a new template, that is.)
CALTRADE
I can just tell you what I have observed - that everyone has their own opinion of what looks good. I have had people give me their sites as example of what looks good and I thought they looked like crap. The guy who designed my logo is highly visual - and he thinks the site looks ok, but he absolutely freaked out that the "join" button is red. "join means stop" he said. I don't think the base template for Dolphin looks all that bad, though I know some people think the template see more is the only thing that is important and do that first. I have looked at a few of your sites, and while I like some of your content, frankly they don't appeal to me visually at all.

I don't particularly think the appearance of that site but recognize that my tastes may be different and some people may like it. I don't think that is the factor though - I think if my site looked exactly like that I would still have the problem. Let's leave me out of it though. Show me a Dolphin site that is beautiful and successful - or more specifically successful because it is beautiful. I do thing ascetics are important - but so is solid functionality, and if that is missing no amount of "beauty" will save you.

As I said on Zarcon's comment, right now I am actively engaged in discussions there - and have already made new contacts, the alerts are properly designed and it is easy to know what people are doing - even though it is a crude site that was just thrown up a week ago.
CALTRADE
By the way, you have been involved with this technology for several years now, have you not? You seem to be intelligent and certainly highly technically proficient, do you have any site that have anything approaching "traction" yet that you would put up for critique as a good example. If not traction, do you have any sites that you think at least have good user engagement? If not engagement, do you even have any sites with a significant number of members?

All I am saying I guess, see more is there are lots of smart people in this community - with different kinds of "intelligence" - and I don't see anyone of them that seem to be a stunning success. If I am wrong, please let me know and show me the link. I do like to emulate successful approaches.
houstonlively
Let's get one thing straight before it spirals out of control. My opinions on the importance of aesthetics were just meant as constructive criticism. Please don't take them so personally. I will say no more on the subject. With that said.....

I have yet to attempt to launch a site with any sort of effort. This is deliberate. Every time I have tested the waters in the past, some Dolphin malfunction created an embarrassment for me, and I just got tired of embarrassments. I am still waiting see more on what I would term a stable enough, and user friendly enough platform for my applications. The latest embarrassing moment was when last week, an oil company exec took a look at the industry related site I am working on.... or at least tried to. I wonder what he thought of me when instead of seeing the site, he got a blank white page with the message, "All Terabyte-Hosting servers have been suspended due to non payment", Little things like that can bite you in the ass. It always seems that something goes wrong at the worst possible time.

From what I've seen, 7.1 will address a lot of problems, but as we all know where Dolphin is concerned, the solution to a problem, merely changes the nature of the problem. I'm not putting anymore effort into any of my sites until I have a stable 7.1 available, and who really knows how long that will be. Perhaps all 4 of my sites disappearing into a black hole was a blessing. One of the sites, I will probably just abandon. I will give top priority to the last site I showed you... I won't mention the name here because all it will get me is a bunch of spammers. The second priority will be the energy related site... I might move that to #1 because I have a ton of connections in that area. Houstonlively.com made a lot of sense when I first tried to put it online with 6.1... what was that, 4 years ago? At that time, the migration from Myspace to FB was just beginning, and the timing was right to try and develop a local social network. That opportunity is long gone and no longer makes sense. I'm going to shift the focus of the site more towards an informational site with less of an emphasis on social networking. Think local business directory on steroids. Of course, all the social networking functions will still be there if people choose to use them. I guess I can say all of the sites I am envisioning will be more information oriented than networking.

As far as a successful Dolphin site? My personal opinion is that a successful Dolphin site has yet to exist. It is my opinion that most people here adjust their definition of success to fit their mental needs..... kinda like that guy across the pond that had 17,000 completely useless accounts. He had every module on earth installed, 17,000 "members", and no one online... ever.... but he created a forum post to blow his horn about how successful his site was. Go figure that one out.
CALTRADE
HL - this wasn't intended as a slam against you - your sites don't appeal to me visually but it it entirely possible that I just have bad visual tastes - I do tend to like things that aren't too loud. My post was that in this case I don't think the visual issue is the problem. It has something to do with the functionality I think. On Dolphin it is deeply buried and difficult to use while on that other site the functionality is on the surface and immediately available. What should be of concern see more to everyone is your statement that "a successful Dolphin site has yet to exist" - I don't see where people have posted any here - just more "Rob you suck" posts. I already know I suck, I am trying to find out who doesn't suck here so I can emulate them. I also agree that number of members is not a good measure of success, though it is one measure. That is why I made this point about "engagement".
Zarcon
I think there are alot things involved in having a Dolphin site that would be considered 'successful'. You can build the best 'eye-catching', feature enhanced, website in the world. But it will not do you any good if you can't market it good enough and get the people to join. I hate bringing up Facebook, but honestly, how do you think it got all of those members? 1 person told another, another told 2, another told 5, etc.

I think that most members download this software and try to start the 'next see more big thing' in social networking. Oh really.. So you are going to get all these people to join your website and leave Facebook? Why should they? That is the key. You have to have some type of niche to your site that interests people. I have 20 domains registered (not all are running on the web yet) but I do plan on running Dolphin for the most part. My most successful website is aimed at Softball. Yep. I have over 400 members (real ones) on that site. I have 3 other Dolphin sites that have <50 members.

Another hard task to do, like you stated, is not only feel like you have to 'beg' people to join, but how about coming back once they do. Its possible to have a successful Dolphin site and the easiest way to do that is to not set your expectations too high. I would be ecstatic to have 50-100 members online at one time.
CALTRADE
Zarcon, I agree with that - there are lots of other factors, including marketing, community management, content management, etc. I'm getting basically "blame the developer" comment. Yes, 400 members is pretty good, but how long have you been at it? - and you are one of the most talented people here. All I am saying is there is something about the design of Dolphin that makes engagement extraordinarily - I am already in active discussions on that site and have made some new contacts see more - just today. I really think we - or more specifically Boonex, should get to the bottom of this.
Andrew Boon
This is perhaps the most interesting and important subject every Dolphin web-master should think about. Engagement is indeed very important. I think that we're almost past the point when SEO would drive most of your traffic. Now you have to rely on "social" recommendation a lot more.

Dolphin is powerful. And this is it's biggest... trap. Although we now ship with all modules turned-off by default webmasters still tend to just install as many as their servers would handle, somehow expecting see more this to be like a "fire all guns" strategy. It's not. Have a look at your example - http://hub.startuprev.com - in Dolphin terms this site only has half a dozen modules activated. It focuses on the goal/niche. It is easy for users to figure out what the site is about and how to use it. You can do this with Dolphin. We've been repeatedly preaching to keep your modules selection and setup simple, focused and well-communicated. Still, most people go for install-it-all bonanza.

Now, I still undersigned that Dolphin was lacking in social-engagement front somewhat. I understand this particularly well because of the Dolphin 7.1 development process, where we had to address this issues. Now I say "was", because I am confident that Dolphin 7.1 is on-par or better than other social networking platforms in terms of social engagement. We've simplified befriending, sharing, improved messages, and added Timeline/Outline, which put forward all the site activity and content in a very engaging manner.

With this, I think most would have the software back covered and only need to make the right choices when setting it up.

So, dear CALTRADE, since you've posted the note, I hope you'd accept some of my criticism, with which I hope to clarify my point. This is all IMHO, and I really hope that it would help someone...

-----

http://world-startups.com

1. No Goal. One major oversight that I think many webmasters do is building a community around certain niche without specifying a goal. Yes, it is somewhat engaging for people to find a group they can relate to, but next what? You need to set forth the reason for them to join and come back. Ok, I am a "start-up company". Should I join? Maybe, but why? What is there for me? "Collaborate, help each other, communicate" - these are very general and vague goals. I need to know why EXACTLY should I bother with this site? I'd wager that if your site title/message/goal read something like "Self-employed? Need a partner or helping hand for a project? Find them here!" or "Cross-promote your startups with entrepreneurs just like you". Something focused. Build your site around just that one goal, just one use-case.

2. Too Much Marketing Blurb". I know, Dolphin splash-screen is nice... but examine your front-page (and front-pages of 90% of Dolphin-based startups for that matter). Pretty much all of the above-the-scroll screen real estate is occupied with nothing but "placard" content. You have splash-screen (no practical use), then intro (no practical use), then display of some members (no practical use) and on the right - Google+ and Ads (no practical use). It's like a huge store window that has no products, but a huge sign saying "we have cool stuff inside". Try putting the stuff into the window and let visitors figure out the rest.

3. http://i46.tinypic.com/1yu4om.png - here's a slightly cleaner version of your logo. Use it if you like it.

4. You have great pictures in your splash-screen. Those pictures are telling and help to understand what the site is all about. They would work so much better, however, if they were supported by content and/or action hooks right along them. If your site is about courses - put there the links to joining the courses, or the schedules, etc. If it's about Events/Conferences - give the list of upcoming ones, right beside the pics.


....

Well, I think this can apply to many examples of Dolphin setups. I am confident that the software is capable and is getting better every day, but it's only a tool. Experience, focus, idea and dedication will lead to success with pretty much any tools or without them. Good tools only help to save time. Good luck!
houstonlively
Good points on items that are of no practical use. Splash pages and slide shows are only good if the user happens to enter the site on that particular page. If the user is following a search result link, odds are they'll end up on some obscure blog post or forum post. I made a post here in the notes regarding a site I'm working on with full width menus, because I think it relates in a general way to this topic by Caltrade. I am going to use content rich drop menus to give users a quick overview see more of each section of the site. This way the user can get a quick overview of the entire site no matter what page they enter on.
CALTRADE
That is a good point about "following a search result link". Maybe it is still too early, but I am getting squat from the search engines right now even though I now have at least some content. You will hate the visuals on this, but as an example of a site I did that is good at this check out http://caltrade.com/directory. No one comes to that from the homepage, it is all from deep linkss, and it is SEO'd up the ying yang.
CALTRADE
Andrew, thank you for responding here. I will get to your critique of my site, but since we are being frank with each other, let me first mention that I am guessing that the Dolphin sites here have a 90 percent failure rate - maybe 95. That is shocking and in my opinion should be the central issue that needs to be addressed. With all the "Rob you suck" comments here do you see what is missing? No one yet has said, "Rob, check out this awesome Dolphin site - it is highly engaging". see more

Perhaps the next version of Dolphin really will solve this, but we have all heard this for a very long time now and it is getting difficult to "keep the faith". I agree with some of your comments here. That people try to use too many features and it does more harm than good, etc, but not all of this can be thrown back at the users here. No matter how hard we try, it is extremely difficult to get user engagement here. Have you looked at your alerts system for example? If someone makes a post or does anything it just sits there. Maybe we should look at solutions that are not related to development - some kind of incubator here for example, or private site reviews - anything - I just think the extremely low rate of successful implementation here is an issue that should be understood thoroughly - with evidence - not just the same assumptions, that almost always put the blame on the users here - many of whom are very smart and have tried hard for a very long time.

Ok, now on to your critique.

1. Ok, it is a little extreme to say the site has "no goal" but I am working on a more specific delination of user benefits. I have failed enough time here on niche sites that this time I decided to "go big". If I am going to fail again, it might as well be on something ambitious.

2. You are saying that everything has "no practical use" - including the images, members, etc. I get criticized on that text no matter what - when it was shorter I was told it should be longer. So you have told me all the things that shouldn't be there, but what should. That was almost my whole point in posting that other site - it is possible to engage in a discussion right on the surface. If there is a way to do that in Dolphin, please let me know - I will try. Also, again, please give an example of a site that you consider to be great - you must know of some.

3. Goodness - everyone wants to redesign my logo. That last one was done by a corporate executive who did one for his company - a major biomedical firm, and I have a feeling someone will see yours and want to redesign it as well - however I have put that one up there - thank you.

4. Ok, I will look at that splash screen stuff - but again, all the advice I have gotten here is visual - and I agree that is important, but I still think the problem has more to do with functionality.
CALTRADE
By the way Andrew - feel free to register for that site even though you are well beyond being a startup. Maybe you will have other ideas on things I have done internally, and it might also let you see what people are doing who are trying to make your technology work in the real world.
DRautenbach
I have to agree with you Cal.

I think thhat webmasters just see this huge pile of plugins (I am guity myself) and just install everything that they do not need. Dolphin sites do need to be instantly engaging. I have no splash screen and would never dream of such a thing. I have allso removed anythin from my site that does not add genuine value to the user or detracts in any way from the core idea of the site.


I have also drastically simplified the navigation and use of the site to make it see more as "One Click" as possible. I do think that at some point someone using dolphin is going to hit the jackpot, but not for a long while and not before all these and more lessons have been learned.

I would be happy to join any video confenece or debate on the issues discussed in this post. Too many sites struggle to 300 members and then die a sudden death....
CALTRADE
DRautenbach - maybe we should do that. I am really active on Google+ and like their videoconference (hangouts) feature there, that can also be recorded. I also have a private, secured site that I started a while back but couldn't get going because of the same "engagement" issue (possibly as simple as just not having an alerts module). That is still there and I could reimplement that as a "virtual incubator" if someone wants to help me administer.
newton27
I would like to say a few words, may not help but it makes my mind up right off.

Rob, your site takes 5 seconds to load to where I see something of a site, then 10 promo images all load.. ugly.

HL the link you posted to gorpus took 13 seconds to come up to anything.. then continues to load..

The post to the hub, that took .5 seconds to fully come up, I have 25mbs down, I have loaded theses pages in three different browsers, most timings are the same..

Bottom line to me, browsing/surfers see more will and do not wait. I didn't on both of your example sites.

Rob, all you see on your site, are member images and a map with those huge promo images.. there is no long "Hot List" or "Recent Activity" like column as you see at the "hub" site.

Strip you site to look like theirs why don't you guys pull up all three side by side, I already like Social Engine better, this is my first time seeing this script.... interesting..
houstonlively
Newt, I posted the link to the Gorpus template demo only for the purpose of visual comparison. The old adage, "One picture's worth a thousand words", is not just a made up saying. The human brain is visually oriented, and is more stimulated by images and graphics, than a clump of text. There may be exceptions to that rule, by generally speaking, it is true. This is not my opinion... it's proven science. The human brain also know when there's too much visual stimulation, and such things see more are a turn-off.... in essence, it's what the human brain perceives as beautiful or ugly, or boring and exciting
CALTRADE
newton - ok, that is constructive I guess. I have removed a few of those images I didn't like anyway so maybe that will speed things up a bit. I also use the "random member display" mod, which Boonex has cautioned will slow down the site, so maybe I have to get rid of that. I can't afford a faster server right now. I thought this was another "Rob you suck" post without giving us a good example of someone who uses Dolphin who doesn't such, and it is, but I can see you like see more that other site also. It wasn't my intention to try to get people to like Social Engine better, it was my intention to try to learn what I can do to make my site more engaging.
newton27
I was in no way trying to bash, I was giving MHO.

HL, I understand your reason to the link, I guess timings meant nothing there, sorry, me being color blind in shades of reds and greens, the Gorpus has red box titles, with black lettering. The contrast for me is too much, I cannot read it.

I also was just trying to say, surfers don't wait on slow sites..
nurke
Caltrade, I have a few suggestions about your site....and this is not "Rob you suck" but my opinion and what thoughts I had when I visited World startups....since Im a business owner....

*An online community of startup companies that facilitates collaboration between entrepreneurs who are starting new businesses throughout the world........ *

Welcome to worlds startups intro is a big no no to me... there you just told me I got no business joining your site since Im a business owner see more 4 years now, have employes, also it is new site so most likely I wont find it useful....

BUT if your intro is something like;
welcome to our business platform where we believe the best way to help small business grow is to provide the tools that allow entrepreneurs to help each other, recommend/write about bank loans, Credit card merchant processors EXPERIANCES...(fill the rest).....so lets help each other....

You see, if I read something like that, I would join to learn about other owners what they went thru and I would write about what I went thru...and we all would have mutual interest...helping each other...

Also I would make advertisement block invisible to visitors....OMG just another google adsense user....but once I join it would be ok to see....
Also, members and tags blocks dont mean anything....maybe blogs block, forum blogs, sites....would look more to it...
I hope you get the picture and it helps.
I had a site with almost 800 self signed up members and I deleted it 4 years ago. Now Im lingering around, got 87 members, just waiting for 7.1...
Dolphin might be the BEST engine, but its missing wheels.... no site will be successful without good wall and email notifications. As it is now, members sign up but are left to look around for replies...If I would get an email I would come back to see whats going on. Now we have spy , wall, comments, it is really too much.
Hopefully, new wall will record everything.
About my site.... with Prolazink`s help I managed to install dolphin on godaddy shared server which I pay 80 some $ a year and have 5 more nondolphin sites on it. I removed option to upload videos, left only youtube video additions, so I dont store videos, music is removed for the same reason, member can add 25 pictures...and the site is really fast. Once my site kicks in and I get more members/need for bigger server then I`ll get dedicated as it is now, I kinda run dolphin for free( since I have 5 other sites much needed)...oh yes, I have purchased ads management system (like adsbrite and google adsense/adwords) for $99, where you can buy time, impressions,and/or days for your banners....all in all looks good....good idea, we will se if it ends up profitable...
I hope you find it useful and let us know how you will make your site after members advices and suggestions...
Nurke
CALTRADE
Offence is not taken Nurke - I didn't really post this to be critiqued, but since a few people have mentioned the same things I will work on it - specifically the text block which I will try to improve. I can get rid of the tags block - it has never worked anyway but I just let it there for SEO - but the member's block? A few people have mentioned that but that is one that I thought most people here liked and used on their sites. I can keep the blog and forum posts, but it is almost all my content see more - again the "engagement" problem. Everyone agrees that the stuff on the homepage should be only the stuff that us "useful to the users" - but what? We don't really have anything engaging and useful to put there, unlike the other site I posted that is immediately engaging. Totally agree with you on the "notifications" system though - extremely important so if nothing else, I hope Boonex will pay attention to that one.

So you said this isn't another "Rob you suck" post, but even if it is I don't think I care - even I was basically saying I such here. Note what is still missing here after all these comments. No one has come here and said "Rob, check out this Dolphin site - nit is awesome and engaging". That seems to be somewhat revealing to me.
nurke
I came back b/c I got an email I had a reply to my post.... lets see what 7,1 will be like and get modzzz email notifications mod to start.... google search something like "starting business in CA" Starting business in NY" and so on.... read on how to and make blogs or forums about each state...google search business failures....tax fraud, thefts....so on and write about it in your posts...on forum, think of several categories...doesnt have to be 50 of them..

People like to put see more members block visible to visitors thinking that it will impress new members...depends what your site is about....it might work....in your case most likely not....

Someone told Hustonlively to butt off after he replied.... looks like we do have to mention that our posts are not to insult poster so thats why i wrote "not a Rob you suck post"...just to make sure you take my reply as advice...

Maybe the best dolphin based site is boonex.com ... and they have only forums, notes....every while they add oil to the fire and there you go 300 posts a day.....

I hope this can help....
CALTRADE
Let me make one final comment here, because the opening comment set the tone that all I wanted was a critique of my site, and that was not my reason for posting this. While most of the comments here pointing out the various ways my site sucks were constructive , do you see what is missing? Not one person came here and said "hey Rob, check out my site, it is highly engaging and the users love it". No one even was able to give an example of a site that was not theirs and said something see more like "check out this site - see how awesome it is".

Even the head of Boonex came here with this "blame the site developers" approach and while he also gave some constructive advice was also unable to point to a single example of a really successful site built with this software. I just spent some time looking at the site directory here, with special attention to the "featured" site. The first thing I noticed it that section hasn't even been updated in more than a year. Several of them now lead to broken links, one has been banned from this site, and several don't even seem to be using Boonex technology, having replaced it with something else.

I also looked at all the "popular" sites - but even most of them don't have many members, and even the ones that do don't seem to have much recent activity. From those entire two lists, I only saw two or maybe three sites that could come even close to being labled "a success".

The Social Engine site I mentioned in this post continues to grow at a good clip, but it is not the growth that makes me jealous - it is the user engagement. On the Social Engine site they brag that you can develop a site quickly and get immediate user engagement - and I think they have kept that promise. With Dolphin, on the other hand, it will take weeks or even months just to configure, and them you will almost certainly find that you have to do serious code modification to get functionality you might have thought would have been there in the first place - it is an exhausting technology to try to make work in the real world.

Almost all of the advice here is visual - how to make it look like I have an engaging site, not how to make my site actually engaging. I have looked at Dolphin 7.1 and to tell you the truth it seems like more of the same - it will "look" much better, but I am not positive it will be that much better. There are still many things I like about Dolphin - the profile fields builder is great, the feature set is second to none, but it's a little like the marketing executives who designed the perfect dog food and then discover that "the dogs just don't like it".
newton27
I would like to follow up.

From what I see this company http://www.foundrygroup.com/portfolio/ who also owns many a company including Zynga... also owns this site your speaking of..
http://www.startuprev.com/ ( Copyright © 2004 - 2012) is the main site, the "hub" is a sub domain right?

The "hub" was just added; correct?

I would think a main company that big, would have huge budgets.. or is my research wrong?

Have you advertised anywhere?
Look at what they do.. see more http://www.startuprev.com/marketing

Your up against a huge company, http://www.techstars.com/ the actual site owner and author of four published books..
CALTRADE
Hi Newton - yes, that is true. The guy who launched it did just publish a popular book about "building startup communities" - real ones, not virtual ones, and has made a name for himself, and yes, that "hub" part was just started. It really doesn't have that many members yet - my real point was about the software itself - it really is "immediately engaging". It is actually a fairly crowed space, and he is hardly the only one I am "up against". No, I haven't see more done any marketing to speak of yet - I really have no funds at all. Most of the people you see there have joined because I asked them to join. It's funny, because if you did a "feature matrix" I would probably beat everything out there - though you would expect Silicon Valley to be completely hot at this stuff. Not sure it matters though. I will take some of the advice I have gotten here to make the site "look" more engaging, but right now that is probably the best I can do - making it "look" engaging, not to actually be engaging.
maddp
Rob"You don't Suck"! ......Now with that said I feel everyone has made great points and they are worth looking in to. I have a site with over 500 members. Its been 3 yrs and i have not put much time in promoting the site. Meaning I have not pushed it as hard as I should. Some months I have not even looked at the site. I say this becuase I feel we get out of things what we put in to them while using best practices.. I need to do better and maybe so do you?
maddp
Dolphin is not that engaging. If you dont have a points mod that gives real rewards i dont see how it will be. When member join everything is hard to navigate and confusing. They add avatar photos when joining like they are building a photo album for a gallery. And rarely go to the photo section to add photos. This business about making a album first then add photos, has my members making multiple folders with only one photo in it cuz you cant just click a add a photo button, upload and done. Nope see more the photo page says “Add album” . People want it simple. And Dolphin is not as simple as many would like. You really have to educate your users a bit more that I think a site should. Maybe D7.1 will fix this? I agree interaction sucks. But you cant make people engage if they don’t want to. However, you can give people a reason to want to. Funny you wrote this post because I am going over the how myself in terms of engagement. I think the phone app will help us all a lot to if it was fully functional. It should work with all areas of the site. If I cant post in groups or forums then how do I enter act with members from it in a meaningful yet random why?
newton27
Uploading has been completely revamped in 7.1, as well as the "timeline" and showing what you want on it.
When we finally get to 7.1, I think Rob will be able to "lay" the site out better.
I agree that we shouldn't go "all in" with the modules, and cleaning the menu up to be more intuitive.
With some simple changes to the home page to make it "look" engaging with posting of News, Articles, and Forums showing up to the guest, that makes me want to see more see more of a site..
maddp
From A seo point of view we already know Dolphin sucks. I use Joomla a lot and a few other cms types. The one thing I notice they all have and dolphin does not is SEO on all the pages. With each mod there is no seo and every page your user add has no seo value to me as well. I have a magazine online with joomla each page anyone adds to the site they can add seo to it (title, description, keywords). That means alot. So say you have 100 members and all wrote a blog on different topics. Well you should see more now have 100 landing pages right? Not in Dolphin You get , http://yoursite.com/blogs/posts/name_of_blog for title and description if you list it on facebook and your search engine sees nothing. I find articles from my magazine all the time in searches never a page of my D7 site.. And my splash page is done in all html as index.html so i could get the seo value and it works ..
maddp
I dont have a big member site with massive interaction so I cant post one. I don’t know of any, so I cant post others. And so far seems no one else does as well.. I think u r on to something .. We all feel Dolphin is good and could be great, but as HL said there is a issue of not fixing the problem. ....

ps. I am not sorry for the book of a post i just wrote ... lol
 
 
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