We have some news to share on something we’ve been working towards for over a year now, that I hope you’ll find as exciting as we do.
For those who have been around for a while, you’ll know that our community here has been built on the same software platform since launch. That platform has served us well over the years, offering a full range of functionality and features that allowed us to hit the ground running and for the community to establish itself as a key part of what makes giffgaff what it is today.
In the last few years, however, the way we use our community platform has changed significantly, and a few new community suppliers have emerged. In the middle of 2017 we kicked off a project to conduct some preliminary research on whether any of these alternative partners might be able to offer a better solution for the giffgaff community for the years ahead of us. In January of this year, that early research culminated in us deciding to launch a formal bidding process for our next community platform contract.
As the first stage of this process, in February this year we opened a discussion thread in our Community Platform Group board to give members an opportunity to answer this question: “What features and functionality do you want in your giffgaff community?”
The feedback we received was used to help us build a requirements document that went out to 5 suppliers. Since then we’ve been through a long process of assessing each supplier through multiple stages. That process has now concluded, and we have selected a new partner to take over when our current contract ends in early 2019.
Who have we selected? Well, it wasn’t easy. Community is done very differently in lots of different places, and a lot of different suppliers had very exciting things to offer for giffgaffers. After going over everything we know is important to you, though, we settled on a platform that we’re confident will provide what giffgaff members need from a community.
Our new partner will be Vanilla Forums. Vanilla, like giffgaff, is a young company that has grown rapidly, and they impressed us when demonstrating how flexible their platform is. They offer a range of features that excel in areas that we know are important to you as members, as well as to giffgaff as a whole.
Work will commence with Vanilla soon to begin migrating all of the existing content here over to their platform. We’ve already started work dissecting the existing community design, identifying known issues with the design so that we can brief the designers for our new community on both what we want, and what we don’t want.
Most importantly: we want to bring you along with us on this journey. At the earliest possible opportunity we will be inviting some members to join us on the first Vanilla hosted development community, to help provide feedback from the moment we start implementing giffgaff specific designs and features. As we progress through development, we’ll invite more members to join us and help shape the future of the giffgaff community.
When will we be making those invites? We’re currently expecting to do that in October, however initially it will be for a small group only. As we progress we’ll add more members to the testing group, as we’ll want some fresh eyes on what we’re working on as we go. If you’d like to part of the initial group, or one of the later groups, drop a reply here and let us know.
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