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  1. A short while ago we revealed the new look Admin CP for Invision Community 4.5. The focus was on increasing the workspace, brightening and modernising the look. However, for some this new look was perhaps a little too bright, especially when setting your OS to use dark mode. Rather than cause an increase in sales for sunglasses, I went ahead and implemented a dark mode for the Admin CP. You can set it to work inline with your OS preference, or you can choose to enforce light or dark mode. I'm sure the next question you're about to ask is "Hey Ehren that looks amazing and now working at 3 am won't wake up the neighbours when I log into the AdminCP but can you do the same for the front-end?" The answer to that is "no". Front-end themes are more complicated, so creating a light and dark mode would be largely ignored by most third-party theme authors. Our marketplace has a great selection of dark mode themes already. I hope that you like this little feature addition and I just wanted to say thanks for all your feedback; we do listen! View the full article
  2. The news is currently filled with anxiety over coronavirus and workers are being encouraged to work from home where possible to limit or delay its spread. For many people used to commuting daily and working in shared offices, this is a huge upheaval which will take a while to adjust. How do you stay motivated and productive when you're not at your desk and held accountable by your colleagues next to you? Remote working has become popular over the last few years. The internet has transformed how we work, and improvements to connection speeds, authentication systems and cloud architecture make working home a viable alternative for many office workers. Working from home certainly doesn't suffer the same stigma it did years ago when it was synonymous with sleeping in late, daytime TV binges and excessive time in pyjamas. A good number of years ago, I was getting my hair cut. It was about 11 am on a weekday, and we had the usual small talk as she attempted to tame my unruly mop. The question I was waiting for dropped a moment later "so, is this your day off?" My reply was that I work from home so have some flexibility in my day. Usually, this gets a nod, and we move onto the weather. I'd not met this hairdresser before. She processed my reply, stopped snipping and locked eyes with me via the mirror. "Do you really work from home, or is that you don't have a job?" Fears over reduced productivity from remote workers have proved to be unfounded. A large-scale experiment was conducted with 16,000 employees of a Chinese call centre. Workers were randomly assigned to either work from home or at the office for nine months. The home workers enjoyed a 13% performance increase due to fewer breaks and sick days. At Invision Community we not only make a product designed to bring people together online, but a good number of us also work remotely. Our HQ is in Virginia, USA but we have team members in the UK, Europe and Australia. Remote working allows us to hire the best people we can find, and not just those who are within a few miles of our HQ. I spoke with our team to get their tips and strategies for working from home and still getting work done. Rikki, lead UI designer Get out of the house every day It's easy to fall into the trap of being a hermit for days on end. Particularly in the summer, I like to take a walk to get lunch every single day. It gives me a chance to get some fresh air, a little exercise and most importantly get away from my office properly (instead of just being in the next room, which doesn't feel like it's really taking a break). Don't take your work home downstairs with you Another easy trap to fall into is working every waking hour because you're always 'at work'. Set fixed work start/end times and stick to them. Leave your office at the end of the day and consider the work finished. If you do need to hop back to work later because something cropped up, go back to your desk to put yourself in work mode - don't be tempted to start working from the sofa. Olivia, Customer Success Manager Organize your workspace You may not be lucky enough to be able to repurpose a dedicated room in the house, but that doesn't mean you can't find a good spot to work from. Choose a place that is free of clutter and well lit. Organize your work I'm a big fan of to-do lists. Keeping my lists organized helps me stay on track and prevents me from drifting too far from what's important. I like the "To Do versus To Get Done concept." Organize yourself Plan in breaks away from your screen. There's always one more email to write, but setting times to take a break is vital to keeping your energy and focus. Working from home means that you cannot rely on others to remind you! Check-in often with teammates At Invision Community, we use Slack to keep in touch and recreate the 'water cooler' moments where we discuss our favourite TV shows, movies and more. Reframe "my office is always open" to "I'm always available for a call". Remind your colleagues often that they can start a voice call if they need to talk. Stuart, developer and migration specialist Minimize human distractions When you're working from home, it's easy to get distracted, especially by other people! Remind your family and friends that during your work hours you're working. As much as you'd love to spend the day drinking tea (or beverage of your choice) and chatting, you do have a job. Stuart's work area How we do it There's no doubt that we're fortunate to have a team that is self-motivated and responsible. Remote working can allow individuals to drift, and productivity suffers. We use a combination of software platforms and a few simple strategies to keep us all informed, organized and feeling part of a greater team. We use Slack to not only onboard new clients, but also to organize product development, feedback and support. These channels are well used, but without a doubt, our 'general' channel is used the most. This is where we hang out socially and chat during our breaks. It's easy to see this as unproductive or distracting, but I feel that it helps build us as a team and helps forge relationships with each other. We use a private Invision Community as an intranet hub which does the heavy lifting for organizing releases. It also acts as a repository for feedback, new feature ideas and development discussions. We encourage breakout groups to voice call to resolve hot topics and pressing issues. It's amazing what you can get done in a few minutes by voice. We hold a stand up voice meeting weekly where we organize the week, discuss anything pressing and run through development tasks. This call is developer-focused, but it's held company-wide, so it is inclusive. We try and avoid human information silos where possible. Daniel's workstation Above all, just keep talking. It's just as important to share your personality as it is your work. Make sure you check in on quiet colleagues to make sure they're OK. Not everyone is super-chatty, and some prefer to switch off and focus. However, it's easy to feel a real sense of loneliness and isolation if you don't have a partner or family living with you. It's essential to put effort into maintaining relationships online. Working remotely means less interaction with your colleagues, and it's easy for multifaceted personalities to become a flattened disembodied persona online. Without the office 'vibe' and body language cues we often take for granted, it's easy to lose that personal connection. Build depth by asking how your colleagues weekends were. Ask about their hobbies and pets. Work at keeping a connection with the person behind the computer. Take advantage of technology Apart from using Invision Community as a hub and company-wide information repository, there's a lot of apps you can use to make your work time more productive and avoid the constant distractions partners and children rattling about the house can cause. I work from home and have two young children. School holidays can be challenging when the house comes alive during the day, and there's a constant stream of potential distractions. I use "focus music" with noise-cancelling headphones when I want to knuckle down and write code or blog articles. Right now, my kids are at school, and I'm listening to Metallica at an unreasonable volume through my Homepod speaker. For some reason, loud metal music helps me concentrate. There are only so many power chords you can take, and I've found Brain.fm to be very useful. Brain.fm uses "neural phase-locking" via music to help you focus. I have no idea what that means, but it does help me get into the zone on days where I struggle with productivity. I have the attention span of an anxious squirrel. It can take me a long while to get into the zone and mere seconds to pop back out. When I'm writing code, it's less of a problem. I just put on Brain.fm or some music, and I get lost in time and space as I build complex constructs in my mind before bringing it together in my code editor. However, when I'm writing articles, helping support, hopping between tasks, or doing general administration work, I rely on a Pomodoro timer. The idea is that you work in sprints of 25 minutes, followed by a short break, usually 5 minutes. You repeat this cycle four times and take a longer break. Many apps can track your time in this way, including web-based tools such as the amusingly named Tomato Timer. Using this technique helps me get into the flow by giving me "permission" to take breaks but only once the work block has finished. I might pop out of focus and think about checking up on our community or Facebook and get back to work when I realize I've still got 12 minutes of work left. Where I work. Can you guess my favourite TV show? Work/life balance doesn't exist You'll often hear people talk about their work/life balance. You are better off thinking in terms of work/life integration. Now, I'm not suggesting that you work all day and night. I'm not one of those "sleep when you're dead" people. I like to sleep. I have a partner and two kids I want to enjoy and passions outside of my computer (although my guitars are gathering dust again). The reality is that when your workstation is just a door away from the rest of your life, you're going to work outside of the traditional 9-5 routine despite how rigorous you may want to define a working day. This might be because you took the morning off to watch your kid's school play or you may have booked a haircut during the day as it's much quieter. My advice would be to look for pockets of time that won't impact the rest of your family or free time. I tend to earmark an hour once the kids have gone to bed as potential "work overflow" time. This allows me to integrate my work schedule with my home schedule without it taking over my life. Avoid Coffeeshops Working with your laptop is a massive cliché. Every single time I've walked into Starbucks, there have been dozens of people at tables squinting at laptop screens. It's an attractive idea. You get to mingle with fellow humans. You get a change of scenery and a decent cup of coffee. You also get a constant source of distractions, poor quality and insecure Wi-Fi and sideways glances from staff who'd love to free up your table. Also, what do you do with your laptop when you need a restroom break? Do you take it with you? What if someone sits at your table while you're gone? It's just not for me. Jim's work area Exercise and movement I won't lecture you about health and fitness, but I do want to highlight one downside of having no commute and office building to move through: being super-sedentary. If you used to clock up 10,000 steps walking to the train station, walking to your office and then clocking up steps as you moved between meeting rooms and social areas, then expect that number to drop sharply. There are days where my Apple Watch tells me I've done less than 1500 steps during the day. To combat this, I make time during the day to go for a walk or to exercise. I'm fortunate that I have a treadmill in the garage along with some weight lifting equipment. If you don't have any equipment, then a short walk is better than nothing. As a bonus, you'll get some fresh air and vitamin D from the sun. I also have a standing desk so that I can get on my feet during the day and an exercise bike I can use while working with the desk at its highest position. Find ways to incorporate movement into your day for your own mental and physical health. Conclusion Despite the many challenges working remotely can cause and the learning curve of taking your work home, the vast majority prefer to work from home. In a study of 100 remote workers, only six said they'd return to the office if given a chance. If you're new to working remotely, then there will be mistakes. There will be days when you feel that you've achieved very little and probably yearn for some human interaction and be told what to do next. It's all part of the process. Keep lines of communication open, check in on your colleagues and embrace the freedom working remotely gives. View the full article
  3. Invision Community has had a question and answer mode for a good few years now. This mode transforms a forum into a formalized way to handle your member's questions. Members can upvote answers, and the topic starter and your community management team can mark a reply as the "best answer". This is great when you want to add rigour to specific forums which encourage your members to find solutions. The existing "QA" mode But how about a way to mark a topic as solved without transforming the look and feel of the forum? We get asked this a lot. Happily, it's now a feature just added to Invision Community 4.5! Those with a long memory will recall we had something very similar way back in Invision Community 3. The new "mark as solved" feature This new feature allows the topic starter or your community management team to mark a post as the solution. This highlights the post within the topic as well as adding an icon to the listing views. The green tick notes that the topic has a solution In addition, it also increases the member's solved count, which is displayed under their name in the post and even in a draggable widget that shows members with the most solutions. We have also added a new filter to the existing post and topic feed widgets to allow only items with a solution to be shown, so you can create a "Recently solved" feed. The new widget Finally, a notification is sent to the author of the post that is selected as the best answer, so they're made aware that their helpful content has been spotted. Let your members know their content was useful We hope you enjoy these changes and look forward to allowing your community to find answers quickly, and to reward the members that provide them. View the full article
  4. Notifications are a crucial feature in enticing members back to your community to read updates and post their replies. It makes sense that there should be as little friction as possible when setting up notifications. We want to encourage members to enable notifications relevant to them. The current notifications form in Invision Community is functional but overwhelming and confusing for new members. Thankfully, we have simplified it to make it clear what notifications are available and which you have enabled currently. This new settings page also includes support for our new mobile app and links to remove all email notifications. Notification Emails Notification emails are essential to re-engage a member. However, we found that when the email contained all of the post content return visits were not as frequent because the email provided all the information the member needed. In Invision Community 4.5, we've added an option to truncate the content of the email to encourage curious return visits and to reduce the chance that a confused member will attempt to post a reply via the email! What does the rest say?! Download's Notifications To receive notifications of new file updates it was previously necessary to follow files. This meant that you would also be notified of reviews and comments even if they were of no interest to you. From 4.5 we have added a separate button (send me version updates) so you have more control over the notifications you receive. Send me version updates We've plenty of new features yet to announce for Invision Community 4.5, but improvements to common features make our lives a little easier and are just as welcome! Are you looking forward to finally making sense of notification choices? Let us know below! View the full article
  5. CEO Mark Triggon, previously the chief merchandising officer at Target, laid out his plans to turn around the beleaguered American retailer Bed Bath & Beyond. Part of that plan was reducing the number of can openers from 12 to 3. Sales rose. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Tritton explained how tests conducted in his first few months at the company showed that less is more when it comes to product assortment. “The big takeaway: Selling too many items in stores that are overcrowded leads to ‘purchase paralysis,” Mr. Tritton said. Bed Bath & Beyond exploded across the American landscape in the 1990s and 2000’s with its focus on opening new “big box” stores for home merchandise where it was meant to be a category killer – consumers would shop in stores that offered them anything and everything. It was famous for its floor-to-ceiling options, and a simple trip for a new shower curtain turned into a shopping spree for every room in the home. In recent years though, that approach has soured on consumers. A Business Insider reporter commented on her latest trip, “From our first steps in, the store was overwhelming. There was merchandise packed top to bottom on shelves that lined every wall.” The tides have changed. Consumers are being offered – and overwhelmed – with more choices than ever before. PARADOX OF CHOICE One of the great benefits of the modern web is a proliferation of choice: choice in sprawling ideologies, choice in niche interests, and choice in shopping for thousands of products at a click of a button. All of this, every day. Unfortunately, that abundance of choice can stress and even paralyze our ability to make decisions. Psychologist Barry Schwartz coined the term Paradox of Choice in a 2004 book by the same name, where he advanced the idea that eliminating consumer choices can reduce anxiety for shoppers. In other words, instead of offering 12 options for can openers, offer 3 options. What does this mean for online communities? LESS IS MORE Across the spectrum of communities and forums, some of the biggest critical mistakes are forum creep and feature bloat. New features are mindlessly added thinking it will lead to higher engagement, new forums are added for every conceivable discussion, and design choices are automatically enabled at the default without aligning to your strategy. Your initial goal is to sweep through your entire community and identify the areas that align with your community strategy. For categories and boards that are low-value, low traffic, or not aligned with any strategic objectives, you should aggressively consolidate or eliminate. There’s no hard rule when it comes to design choices, although 7 has been touted as a magic number for short-term human memory. You can use this magic number across a range of design decisions. For example: At most 7 Reactions At most 7 Primary Menu options At most 7 major sections or content hubs THE JAM EXPERIMENT Choice overload can actually lead to less sales. In 2000, psychologists Sheena Iyengar of Columbia University and Mark Lepper of Stanford University led a much-recited study where they presented passerbys at a food market with two tables: one with 24 fruit jams, the other with 6 jams. The one with 24 different jams generated more traffic to sample and taste. But guess which table generated more sales? The other table with fewer jams, which had ten times more purchases! The moral of the story? At junctures of your member journey where you ask users to make a critical decision such as user information when registering, subscriptions, or selling products, don’t be the table with 24 jams to sample, but never able to sell. BIG BOX & SMALL BOX Invision Community offers an interesting approach where you can act like both a “big box” community for your general audience and still offer “small box” cohesiveness for more intimate groups. The feature is called Clubs, which empowers smaller groups to form and split off from the main audience. This is an especially consequential feature for mature and large communities looking to organically cultivate their next generation of engagement. Indeed, this is a trend happening in a large way among next-gen consumers, who are realizing the perils of broadcasting and oversharing. In a 2019 white paper “The New Rules of Social” led by youth creative agency ZAK, nearly two-thirds of the under-30 respondents said they prefer to talk in private message rather than open forums and feeds. Facebook themselves launched head-first towards social groups back in 2016 after the US Presidential election. In a 6,000 word essay called "Building Global Community," Zuckerberg sermonized on the importance of building connections in meaningful groups: Forum administrators on Invision Community have been building meaningful communities since day one. When properly deployed, Clubs will allow you to cultivate – and retain – users in a more focused environment without the distractions of your larger community. CONCLUSION For community managers and forum administrators who have run their Invision Communities for many years, you know first-hand that the power of community doesn’t come from adding another feature, another board, or another category. Happiness and fulfillment come from actually connecting with members, through education, enlightenment, problem solving, and teamwork. Overloading your community with theme options, excess reactions, and overbuilt boards get in the way of your true goal. Become the CEO to reduce the overwhelming options of can openers. Sell more jam by offering less of it. And unfetter yourself from unnecessary choices to discover a clearer connection to your members. Executive Summary Bed Bath & Beyond CEO declutters stores, sales rise Concept of paradox of choice: users can become overwhelmed and stressed when presented with too many options Jam experiment: table with more jams gets more traffic, but table of less jams gets more sales For large and established communities, use Clubs to offer intimate and uncluttered experiences. View the full article

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