📻 — Designing a Community (and Product) Onboarding Process through Transparency and Communication

This is your Community, Daily.

Reading Time: ~ 3 min.

Good morning yeniverse!

My kids have the day off from school so my morning schedule is a bit more mixed-up than usual.

If you’re a #yenPARENT then you know what I’m talking about as sometimes “days off” make the day’s schedule worse (or at least much more unpredictable)!

Quite a few fun links to check-out and share about — hope you had a great and restful weekend! My youngest and I dug up worms.

  1. Workflows, not tools. Levels of an organization. Are we really engineers?

  2. Leadership focus to CPIs. Scaling product deliveryBookmarking.

  3. Ethereum naming service. YouTube team organizerVlogeasyBrick.

  4. Insta on your websiteSlate. Community department. eCommerce 3.0.

  5. Value-based pricing calculator. One full year as a venture capitalist.

  6. GenZ and TikTok war? What. No. Guild Writers. Apple Car rumors.

  7. Who created the Marvel Universe. Tweets on social products.

  8. I’m going to try this… I’ll let you know if it works! Tackling Typescript.

  9. DelightChatReplica. Community Fund. Video editing coolConsent?

  10. Repair old photos. Sell expiring domains. Mixtapes! Meeting bar.

And what about doing an email newsletter via Notion? It had to happen! And Anna just wrote a great first post on Mastermind Groups — check it!

To infinity & community,

— john

I wanted to start this week’s newsletter with a few high-level thoughts on customer and community onboarding which is something I’ve been recently obsessing over as we slowly onboard new members into our early-stage community-building platform.

And as we all know, getting this right is absolutely paramount because the quality of onboarding is oftentimes the difference between a successfully growing community, project, and/or business and one that struggles to find the initial lift that keeps them alive!

Onboarding isn’t difficult but it is a necessary and unavoidable workflow and system that you should intentionally design from the very beginning.

Here are a few things that I’ve been obsessing over when it comes to onboarding new folks into a new community space:

Part 1: Create Transparency Through Documentation, Consistent Communication:

The first thing I do when I onboard new community members into a new product and/or community space is that I first create documentation in and around the project so that they have as much information to read and digest before they make a commitment.

Some obvious examples that I’m using currently for YEN and the larger universe that we’re building:

  1. Public, open source handbook which describes who we are, what we do, and what you can expect from the community and eventual product.

  2. Public and consistently updated communication channels that have clear lines to the project’s core objectives as a business. Examples of this for this project are Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, this newsletter, a Product Hunt Ship page, and a growing Indie Hacker project. I update them daily / weekly based on our growth goals.

Transparency starts before you build the community; it’s a gift that you give to future (and current) members because your members know how to connect and communicate with you and this directly impacts onboarding because onboarding into a product / community starts days, weeks, maybe even months before as you’ve built out a brand with valuable content over a consistent period of time.

Transparency isn’t difficult to do but it requires a commitment to give more than you take, even when it’s not reciprocated for a long time.

Part 2: Define What Success Looks Like

Building an effective and scalable customer / community member process requires a plan that ultimately has a singular, calculable goal at the end of it.

In other words, you should define how you want your users to engage with the product and how you want them to experience it and what order. The same thinking is required for onboarding a community member(s) as well.

Here’s a look into one of the iterations of our onboarding plan as we’ve designed it for our growing product:

I devised a simple system to start, focusing on an experience or question that I wanted to able to answer in each part of the process:

  1. Wow! I didn’t know you could do that?! (e.g. build a profitable community)

  2. How? (They want to understand how this has been done)

  3. Now! (They discover YEN and find it’s easy to use)

The trigger or system that will throw folks into this loop will be the success stories of our customers, our wonderful yenizens.

The point is this: Do this before you actually build the product and/or community! You can, of course, build it in parallel, but, you might save a bit of time doing a bit more thinking on the front-end.

In our case, my team and I have spent time thinking about how we want to communicate our onboarding plan and how we’re going to build it out for them as we get closer to our go-to market.

Being able to answer simple questions like the ones above might be a useful exercise for you and your team and community leaders.

Hopefully this is useful and let me know your thoughts! Love you all!