The active forum, Atlassian Answers, was barely staying alive due to daily DoS attacks. In addition the technical pain, the forums felt out-of-date and in need of much attention. Customers were in need of answers from Atlassian and our support resources were being taxed.
The previous iteration of the forums already proved to be a great place to grow and maintain influencers and champions of Atlassian products. It is in the interest of the business to scale this kind of championship by tenfold. More champions = more word of mouth = more revenue.
I stepped into the project at the tail end of the generative research phase. It was already known that we needed a new forum, but given the blank canvas - what was the best forum to build?
After rounds of interviews and group exercise sessions, the research was pointing towards a community where people were at the center. There would be three pillars that would come out of this time, connect, share and learn.
Connect - Having the ability to connect with others like you, this was implemented by ensuring real names would be used in accounts. We would use clean typography and layout to emphasize people to ensure that they were front and center.
Share - Questions and answers were at the heart of what made Atlassian Answers worth participating in. This had to be incorporated in the new version. However, there was research that indicated that people wanted to read about best practices, or how-to guides that were written by other Atlassian users. Because of this we introduced two new content types; articles and discussions.
Learn. - Content on the site wouldn't be primarily focused on questions and answers as a primary learning path. By including other content types and encouraging the usage of these types, more learning could be done on the part of community members (and non members alike).
The ADG (Atlassian Design Guidelines) was just getting started. We were the property that was being built while the plane was still in the air. We took what was already complete and tested the limits of the guidelines.
Everything had to be designed. Nothing was borrowed over, so this was a fresh canvas to paint from. What does a question and answer experience look like? Can it be uniquely Atlassian? What does that mean and what does that look like? What would be different between a question versus a discussion? What would email notifications look like? How would voice and tone be infused into the community experience?