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Creating Community On The Web

Aug 17, 2007
Creating relationships and community are as important for someone's emotional survival as having food is important to someone's physical survival. As people become more adept at using computers for everything from paying bills and ordering groceries to personal networking, creating community as a priority has increased.

We need more community in our lives to keep us from becoming isolated individuals sitting in darkened rooms with only the glow of the monitor to keep us company. Online interaction has become an important social outlet. Web designers have created a series of tools to help people create community while they interact on the Web.

Visit the guest map

A longtime standard of web pages has been guest books where people who access the web page can sign in with their e-mail address and leave a comment. It's often fun to go back and see who else has been at the page that you were looking at. An updated feature of that same idea is the guest map.

On these programs people who access a web site can place a pin on the map to show where they live or where they're from. For sites that do international or national business, this can be a very interesting way to show where the majority of their web site users hail, and allow users to be a part of their global setting. Users may even come back later to look and see if their pin is still on the map and if other people from around there have also been to that site. The guest map is a fun and visual way to connect people to the site and to each other.

Cast your vote

Everyone has an opinion about something, and usually people tend to visit web sites that they feel passionately about. Thus giving their opinion becomes an enjoyable part of visiting the site. Opinion polls help users feel their opinion is heard and counted by the people who are creating the site and others who may visit it. Simple polls are easy programs to place within a web site and can offer users a chance to see how other people think. Some users even return to web sites later to see how the poll is continued and if their opinion is mirrored by others. Our desire to share what we feel and to compare it to others is an important element in creating community around us while websites generate traffic and user awareness.

Stop by for a chat

Chat rooms are nothing new to the internet, but Web designers have discovered by putting independent chat rooms within their site people interested specifically in the topic of their site can have a more secluded, safe place to share their opinions.

Public and large chat rooms often deteriorate in conversation or people with opposing views create havoc and controversy. However rooms on private sites usually are only used by people who visit the sites regularly and either share the views of the site or have knowledge of the site topic. This allows for a more mature conversation to occur and the site topic to be discussed in-depth. Chat sites on private web sites can be fully monitored to make sure the behavior in the room is as cordial as it would be out in the world.

Creating community on web sites is one of the many ways the designers of the internet have brought us together in a global world. We may be sitting in our room alone, but thanks to these community builders, we never have to be lonely.
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