When we began to develop Ninja Post, one of our goals was to create forum software that improved upon traditional platforms. However, we needed a concrete way to gauge our progress. In other words, how do we know with certainty that we’re making correct design decisions?
One metric we look at is the “User Participation Rate”. A high Participation Rate is crucial because activity instills confidence that questions will receive answers in a timely fashion. This confidence is what compels users to participate. If the user doesn’t think his or her question will garner a response, he or she won’t ask it. But if the user is confident in getting a worthy reply, he or she is likely to dive in.
We measure the PR in several ways. For example:
- What percentage of users are logged in vs. lurking?
- What is the average number of posts per registered user?
- What is the average time before the first reply?
- What is the average number of replies per thread?
- What is the average user reputation score?
- What is the average pageview-to-post ratio for threads?
Making the Participation Rate an integral part of our feedback loop guides our development process. We live by the credo “measure, improve, measure”. We are striving toward our goal to build the fastest, most effective forum software and thanks to studying the Participation Rate so closely, we’re confident we’re on the right track.