Planning an online community with CANS

I submitted a report today on building an online community on my workplace intranet. After weeks of mulling it over, the four factors in building a successful online community suddenly came to me last night. I label them CANS.

  • Contributing – what type of content and tools (blogs, wikis, galleries, discussion etc) should be part of an online community and how can users contribute and collaborate?
  • Awareness – how can you ensure that users are kept aware of the latest news and relevant changes? RSS feeds, email digests, personalised home pages and lists of new or changed pages are some of the methods that can be used.
  • Navigation – how should the community be structured so that users can easily locate relevant content? What are the differences between handling "static content" such as procedures and policy in contrast to dynamic content like news, events and discussion?
  • Systems – what are the best tools for building an online community?

I'm impressed by some of Google's offerings as tools for building an online community and, appropriately enough, wrote my report using Google's online wordprocessor. Staying up until 4am writing the report also gave me the opportunity to view changes in the iGoogle theme that I usually don't see!

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