Hello Couchsurfers, I’m Sam Houston, Community Manager at Couchsurfing HQ. I’m writing this week’s blog post to let you know about a few upcoming Place Page changes, including the retiring of the Community Details section.
What we’ve been working on
This week, the product team is still working on some underlying changes to the way we define Places. This is so we can easily create Places for islands, national parks, and urban and rural areas around the world. We will have more information about this in the coming weeks.
Upcoming site updates
We’re going to update the look and feel of the Places pages to make the background less white and add some color to the header by including profile images of local Couchsurfers. We will not display profile photos of locals who’ve set their privacy preferences as “yes” to any of the following privacy preferences:
- Hide in search
- Only seen by members
- Hide profile completely
- Hide group posts from non-members
Removing Community Details on February 12
In these product posts, we mostly talk about new features we’re adding to the website. However, we sometimes have reason to remove prominent features that aren’t being used. This Tuesday, February 12th, we’ll be removing the “Community Details” section on Place pages.
Very few Places have used Community Details in the two months it’s been available. Of the roughly 1500 Place pages, only 125 have ever posted any Community Details. This very low percentage coupled with data that shows very few members read the Community Details posts, tells us this feature failed.
Measuring the success or failure of Community Details
Measuring the percentage of people that use a feature is what we call “quantitative feedback.” We get quantitative feedback on each website change so we can better judge how to spend our development team’s time. We also get “qualitative feedback” about the website from the community via the beta panel, feedback forums, groups on Couchsurfing.com, and social media.
Despite several members creating wonderful content for their Community Details section, Community Details didn’t work both quantitatively and qualitatively. A few weeks ago we received qualitative feedback from the community that this feature needed better placement and rich text formatting to gain traction, so we moved it to the top of Place Pages so it was more prominently displayed. But still, the creation of Community Details posts didn’t change. Since better placement didn’t increase use, spending more time adding the second most-requested improvement (rich text formatting) didn’t make sense.
Quantitatively measuring Community Details
We used the percentage of Places that had Community Details as the main quantitative indication of whether it was successful; our secondary indication was whether members of the community read those Details when they visit a Place Page.
Community Details failed here as well. A member’s click-through to read the post is our best indication that community members need these Details. Of the unique pageviews that Places get, roughly .0005% of those included anyone reading the full post of a Community Detail. In the chart below, that number increased to around .00075% when we moved the posts to a more prominent place. This data tells us that even when the posts are virtually the first thing a member sees, they don’t read them.
Even when we moved Community Details to the top of the page, only .00075% of the combined Place Page and Community Details page views included click-throughs to Community Details. Almost too small to see.
Qualitatively measuring Community Details
Qualitatively, we also heard from members that the harsh tone of some of the Community Details posts made them feel unwelcome or confused. A few of these posts had titles directing members to new “official” city groups, which was confusing for new people. Others told members: “DO NOT POST COUCH REQUESTS HERE.” Those posts, coupled with its prominence at the top of the page, never decreased the percentage of posts flagged as couch requests. That tells us that Community Details are not preventing couch requests. It also affirms that members are not reading Community Details.
Educating and helping community members, both new and old, was often the goal of the members that created Community Details. As we continue to update the Couchsurfing website, the site will become easier to use and we will make various functions easier to find for new users, including Couch Search, Couch Requests, and finding local Events. The site changes and processes take time, and we understand that this is still more work to do on all of these efforts.
Building the right features, at the right time
The Couchsurfing site is undergoing a big transformation to support the growing and diverse community. At Couchsurfing HQ, we have to make sure our development team focuses on building the right features at the right time, and sometimes that means we have to remove or leave behind old parts of the site that are no longer used.
Community feedback and site usage are taken into consideration when changes are made. If you have any feedback or thoughts about this post, please join us in our Feedback forum.