Ok, so I’m new (a few weeks) to Couchers but old (15 years) to Couchsurfing. Allow me to give first impressions of the Forum site, which I reckon as structured might be a roadblock to growth:
(1) There is Couchers.org and Community.Couchers.org and they’re two different sites and there are two different logins. This really wasn’t clear to me.
- Can they not both be on the same site?
- If not, do we really need a separate login?
- If so, mention should be made explicitly of the fact that you’re heading to a different site. I was furiously trying to log into the Forum site with all known passwords from the last 10 years and it was telling me it didn’t even recognize my email address.
(2) When not logged in, you can still scroll through the posts of Community.Couchers.org, but it shows older posts first. This was offputting, because I initially had the impression that people hadn’t been posting on here since 2020.
(3) The tabs are higgledy-piggledy. They seem to be the fruits of idea upon idea piled on top of each other but they lack order. In more detail, there are 20 elements to take in when you log in:
- First thing you see in logging in is (1) " Welcome to the Couchers.org Forum"
- Then a picture of some girls trying to touch God…or, like me, trying to find the top of the ribbon (2)
- Then a tagline (3) “Welcome to our dedicated conversation space…around the world!”
- Underneath that are four tabs: “(4) Welcome / (5) Discussions / (6) Events / (7) Categories >”
- Categories contains eight sub-tabs: “(8) Open talk / (9) Feedback / (10) Culture / (11) Forum / (12) Volunteers / (13) Community builders / (14) Translators / (15) Online events”
- Clicking on Events, you get another sub-tab called (16)“Online events”
- Underneath that are four headlines: “(17) Announcements / (18) Latest topics / (19) Conversations / (20) Groups”
Without wanting to get too existential, where should this very post even exist. There are 8 places where I can see it fitting in. I opted for feedback, but even that I reached only by clicking on a 21st element, “Open draft”, and seeing the categories list.
Could this not be cut down dramatically, by:
- Getting rid of (1) and (3) (I mean we’ve had to log into a completely different site to go to the forum, so we know where we are - we got here deliberately).
- The picture is too prominent and takes up too much space. The photo in the discussions forum gets 10 points for ethnic diversity but only a few points for fun (the girl and guy front of frame carrying the team). These people are not having fun, so why would anyone carry on reading?
- Have the tab options at the top (look at Fb, Amazon, any retail site): people need to be able to see the tabs, they shouldn’t be nested half-way down the page.
- The topics are very blah and the pop-up notes even more so. E.g. Hovering over Welcome gives “Forum overview”, hovering over the sub-category “Forum” gives “Forum”…
- I get having “Discussions” and “Events” as tabs - but all the other tabs seem senseless to me. Why is “Categories” separate from discussions for example. Couldn’t it be a subset of Categories, since everything in the list basically involves discussions e.g. (a) Open talk, (b) Feedback, etc.
- Announcements, latest topics, groups and conversations is very prominently displayed on the splash page. Announcements looks particularly bad because the latest one dates back to January 2022. I’m sure y’all be doing something since then?
(4) I think you’re missing the most important tab here, which is “Who are we?”. Couchsurfing is on life support because it became faceless and corporate, so take the opposite tack: become face-full and personable. Some suggestions:
- Fine if you don’t wanna have a top-down approach, but I see names popping up in posts and unclear who the F these people are in the structure. When Jesse posts (he does a lot - sorry to use your name in vain, Jesse), who is this guy? Community builder tells me nothing, because in another post I see that there are a long list of people waiting to be community builders. I see gpoovan post, who is also listed as a community builder, and yet he introduced himself elsewhere as head of marketing or something. Aapeli is a co-founder - well have these people listed. I read you have 500 contributors to development or something - well mention that team (by country or contribution or something if you don’t want to list every person). When suggestions are made, who is it that says “yes, that’s a good idea, we’ll work on it.”
- You mention all these volunteer positions: well add some cache to it by having said people displayed on this page. I applied for one such volunteer position weeks ago and I haven’t got a clue whether my application was received, whether the position has already been taken - it’s all very opaque, because we don’t know who does what.
- Likewise, the “community builder” position is confusing. Jesse says there are a mountain of them to get through. Fair enough, but show us said mountain. You probably have a list of people who have applied and for the area they applied for: well show it then. I’m about to move to a good hub for Couchers in Europe, but have no idea whether 20 people from that city have already offered their services.
This post is TLDR for most, but for those who did, thank you and congratulations for reaching the end.