Generally, an online research community platform is inherently ethnographic. Typically, a group of related people are often engaged and observed with the aim of a better understanding of what defines them as a research group. Such platforms usually offer researchers an opportunity to approach data from a different perspective, even if that is not the explicit aim of the researchers.
If you are looking for a great platform, there are important features you must look for. These include;
1. A user-friendly design
The first thing people notice when they visit an online research community platform is its look and feel. If it looks like every other website on the Internet, then visitors will quickly leave without even giving it a chance.
The best communities have a clean layout and easy navigation so users can find what they need easily. They also provide clear instructions for new members as well as detailed help pages for those who get stuck or want more information.
2. Easy access to content
An intuitive interface makes finding relevant resources quick and simple. Users should never struggle to do anything – whether it’s searching or creating their own content. Communities with complex interfaces may offer some additional benefits, but these aren’t essential.
For example, communities based around specific industries often include specialized tools such as job boards, company directories, news feeds, blogs, forums etc. But there’s no reason why any type of resource couldn’t be included within the same platform.
3. Reliable performance
While most websites or platforms work fine at home, many fail miserably once they reach thousands of page views or users per day. This means that sites could potentially lose customers because of slow loading times.
To avoid this problem, make sure that your site loads fast by using caching technology. Caching allows web servers to store copies of frequently accessed files locally rather than retrieving them each time a visitor requests one.
It would take hours to download everything again every time someone visited your site, but caches only require milliseconds to retrieve. In addition to saving bandwidth and server load, cached versions are usually much easier to update compared to static HTML documents. Poorly-performing platforms could compromise your research objectives and efforts.
4. Secure data storage
If your community hosts sensitive personal or financial details, ensure that these cannot fall into the wrong hands. Data security includes protection against hackers and identity theft, as well as protecting against accidental disclosure. You might consider storing credit card numbers securely behind SSL certificates, which encrypt communications between browsers and the payment gateway. Only choose a research platforms that’s secure.
5. User support
A responsive support team provides 24/7 assistance whenever necessary. Although some businesses choose to handle complaints directly through email, others prefer to use live chat software or social media platforms to communicate privately with customers. Either way, you must establish procedures for handling issues before problems arise. Reliable support means your research will progress much easier.
You wouldn’t expect anyone to enter your house unannounced, and yet businesses regularly share private information with third parties without asking permission.
Your community needs to clearly state exactly where personal information goes and under what circumstances it will be shared. Make sure that the terms stated here apply equally to both registered and anonymous users.
9. Frequent communication
Communication channels like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Foursquare, RSS feeds, and even SMS messages provide an opportunity to keep your audience informed about changes happening across your entire network.
Regular posting also makes it possible to engage with clients and employees in real time. Research platforms must provide an easier way of communicating with the study participants. Effective communication will ensure that you and your colleagues will share information much more easily.
10. Effective marketing strategies
Marketing campaigns should aim to increase brand awareness, generate leads, promote product launches, encourage repeat visits, and enhance user experience. These objectives vary depending on whether you sell physical goods or digital downloads. Some examples of effective marketing tactics include:
Email newsletters – A simple newsletter sends out regular updates via e-mail. They tend to attract more subscribers than traditional ads, especially among loyal followers who wish to receive exclusive offers. Social networking – Sharing pictures, videos, and blog posts helps create buzz around new releases, while encouraging fans to interact with brands.
If you intend to use the online research platform to reach, coordinate, and market your products or brand, it’s important to choose the right platform. As mentioned earlier, these platforms can be used for different purposes such as product testing, research, and more. The success of your project depends on how well you choose the right platform that suits your needs. Be sure to pay attention to the ten features mentioned in this article.
Video – Online Qualitative Research Software
Interesting related article: “What is Market Research?“