Moving to a new software service is never easy. I’m sure you, like me have been frustrated when your favourite app or piece of software is updated, then you have to relearn everything all over again because nothing is in the same place and the way you did X to get Y is now completely different (umm… Windows 11…. #justsaying)
Online communities are no exception. Those of you who have been a member of our online community at the IET for some time will have been through a number of different iterations over the years. First the Fusetalk forum then MyCommunity followed by Engineering Communities and now we have IET EngX.
Of course with every changing of the platform software comes a variety of feedback both positive and not so positive. Picking through that feedback to find the things that need addressing isn’t, however, as easy as you think.
Over the last few months we’ve been busy working behind the scenes to investigate how our EngX community members are using EngX, what they like, don’t like, use and don’t use along with their suggestions for how we can improve the community.
We reached out to some of our regular users as well as some who are relatively new to the community to ask for their feedback. We arranged a number of video calls with each of them to have a good chat and find out more about how they’re using the community, their general thoughts about EngX, what issues they were having if any and what they were. It was lovely to put faces to some of the names we’ve known for a while and thank you once again to those who took the time to speak with Liz and myself :)
As we suspected though, the opinions we gathered were sometimes polar opposite and feedback wasn’t always unanimous. Some had difficulties in understanding and getting to grips with using certain features within EngX but for others it was simple and intuitive. Some never use the notification centre, for others it was the first place they go when they log in. Some really like the personalised homepage highlighting content they’re interested in in one place, some never visit it and some only ever look at one specific forum category while others like to look around the whole community to see what’s going on.
There was also a stark contrast in opinions when it came to ‘nested replies’ in the forum too. We found there was a clear divide between those who liked and were happy to use nested replies in the forum and those who didn’t. Those who preferred nested replies were more likely to be early career professionals and prolific users of other forms of social media and online communities and commented that they expected to be able to address each user’s comments specifically and directly on an online community. Others however would prefer a more linear approach, opting for a practice of ‘quoting’ other users posts instead of directly addressing another users comments.
So as I’m sure you can see, we’re going to be between a rock and a hard place when it comes to trying to make everyone happy as it’s always difficult to find some common ground. When we make changes and updates, some users will like them and some users won’t.
We will however be making few minor changes over the coming weeks and are also looking at ways to address some of the other feedback we gathered. We’ll be discussing those items with our supplier’s software development team to see if we can come up with some solutions that hopefully will be helpful for all.
We always welcome feedback and love to hear your thoughts so please do continue to let us know what you think.
I’ll shortly be looking for volunteers to join a feedback/testing group to help us continue to improve EngX and provide an interesting and welcoming online community for engineers across the globe. If you’d like to be considered for participation in the group, please drop me a direct/private message on EngX or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org