For my graduation project at the Haagse Hogeschool, I upgraded the website for The Werkcafe, and put together a strategy to grow their community.

Customer profile
Werkcafe Rotterdam is an online community that is centered around the unemployed in the area of Rotterdam. Their goal is to help re-intergrate unemployed people, byt being offering a place to share experiences with others who find themselves in a similar situation. The Werkcafe staff consists exclusively out of job seekers, who participate in the initiative for short periodes of time.

The Werkcafe was using the Ning CMS to power their social network. At first, they requested only minor upgrades, such as color changes and a cleaner Article organization. After a few initial meetings though, we honed in on the ultimate goal: an increase of the amount of interaction on the website.

After the upgrade, the website was easier to navigate, had a better balanced UI, and a design that appealed to the target audience.

werkcafe ning website

The new color scheme was not chosen arbitrarily. First, the target audience goals and desires were research, and later color symbolism was researched, so that the color scheme would resonate with visitors.

Community Strategy
The website upgrade was only the first part of the project. A fast, usable, good looking website couldn’t be the end goal, because that is the bare minimum to even stand a chance of building a community. The real challenge was for the Community Managers at The Werkcafe, to support interaction on the website. The strategy I laid out for them was based on five stages of the users journey through the website, from being unfamiliar with The Werkcafe, to becoming an active contributor. During each stage, a number of activities was listed, that the Community Managers could do, to support the visitors to move on to the next stage.

Usage Life Cycle Funnel

Other parts of the strategy included guidelines for:

  • Writing for Gradual Engagement
  • Writing for Trust
  • Using Twitter and other social media
  • Using Google Ananlytics

Below is a slideshow that shows a brief overview of the project: outlining about increasing interactions on an existing social network

UPDATE: Since launching the website last year, the werkcafe has expanded their activities to Den Haag Werkcafe.