A new look for Atlas: How we redesigned our own community
A dive into the new look for Atlas, the Khoros community. Learn how decisions were made and what steps were taken to redesign Atlas into a leading digital engagement space.
What is Atlas?
Initially, the Khoros community was referred to as 'The Lithosphere.' It was a place for customers to find and give support about Lithium products by sharing best practices, product innovation, and tips for self-help through detailed product documentation.
After Spredfast and Lithium merged, the community needed to evolve to represent the new brand and showcase the vast amount of resources for the newly added products.
In 2019, the Khoros community was rebranded as Atlas, staying in line with the Greek theme (Khoros, in Greek, refers to the chorus in a play — the group who connects directly with the audience). Then at the beginning of May 2020, a redesigned Atlas was launched, establishing it as a global hub to give and receive guidance throughout the customer’s journey.
Since the branding and redesigning of Atlas:
- Average page views increased by 85%
- Minutes spent online increased by 74%
- Average number of posts increased by 52%
- 55% more kudos given
- 60% more accepted solutions
These are signs of a thriving community filled with the resources that members need to be successful in their roles, and members are more often able to find the answers they seek and appreciate the content.
After the community’s rebranding in 2019, the newly established Atlas team had begun working toward improving the community's overall customer experience, starting by listening to members' needs. Khoros invited internal stakeholders and various community customers to a workshop/interview session on the state of Atlas. Participants noted that they didn’t love the look, feel, and navigation on the community — especially since Khoros builds communities.
With this valuable feedback, and guidance from the Khoros Strategy team, the Atlas team targeted a starting place to improve the community and began laying out plans to redesign the homepage. Most members access the community through the homepage, providing the most immediate impact on how members navigate and interact with Atlas.
How we gave Atlas new life
The homepage redesign goals were broken down into three primary focal points.
Content navigation is a challenge for many communities, with questions such as where to place access points to categories and how to browse for similar content. Initially, the community used a single drop-down icon to display categories and sub-areas within the community; this was overhauled into a fully visible category spread at the top of the page. We enlarged the search bar and placed it in the center of the homepage for increased visibility. Discussion style labels were also added to inform members of the content discussion type further.
Atlas needed a simplified structure to reduce clutter, category confusion, and irrelevant content. We looked to community data to understand what categories either were no longer used or overlapped with existing categories; this allowed us to reduce the number of public categories from ten to seven. Finally, we combed through over 12 years of content from the remaining categories to archive outdated content.
By reimagining the community’s visual design, we were able to wrap all these changes up into an intuitive package. Alteryx’ and Atlassian's communities were used as inspiration for the top menu design choices, using brand icons as button images and streamlined navigation. Khoros imagery and colors helped tie navigation and brand together with custom button icons, category theme images, and color coded discussion types, turning Atlas into a visually vibrant, intuitive website.
Every project is a learning experience
When critics agree the community isn't performing as expected, a great place to begin is reevaluating the fundamentals. One essential from this project is that the basic trifecta of structure, navigation, and design are often paramount to community success. Of course, these three factors do expand into a plethora of approaches, complexities, and decisions based on the goals of the community.
What's next for Atlas?
The project was a triumph for the team, and the community. After the redesign's initial launch this past May, many members were impressed by the effort and results shown in the community's design and structure. But this redesign is only an early stage of Atlas’ digital transformation.
The team will continue working to increase the value of Atlas by further evaluating navigation, structure and visual design, as well as stimulating user engagement. The growing Atlas team is committed to their pursuit of being the best case study in the digital engagement space.