Custom built communities can be so beautiful

I really wanted to make Rosieland a custom built community, in the end I didn’t due to a variety of reasons.

I still dream of having and leading a community that is truly custom built.

Here are some examples:

What ones do you know of?

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I love HackerNoon. It is a news-breaking, user-generated news article community centered on high tech topics and it sports a unique user interface and compelling aesthetic for its niche. I would love more sites to be like this and less like cookie-cutters to social media or forums.

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Yes, and they started on Medium, right? And moved away after Medium changed the way they worked.

That’s right! Speaking of which - and I know you’ve posted about this elsewhere - how did you go about selecting Ghost + Discourse? Even if it’s not custom-built, your selection feels very intentional to drive a user experience that lends itself to the handcrafted, artisanal mindset.

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I’ve gone around in circles, which hasn’t helped my growth.

I really wanted to custom build something, but life got in the way. The next best thing, from my perspective, was to use ethical and open source products, which is what Ghost and Discourse are.

There are pros and cons, I’m still sad I didn’t go down the custom build route. I believe more communities should be entirely unique and invested in.


I think these are great choices, and I love that you chose them! Did you go the self-hosted route? Or the as-a-service route?

I think this is a fundamental question facing so many community leaders today. Should they invest time (and potentially hire specialists) to continue the site-management / infrastructure-hosting route themselves? Or risk the loss of (some?) control by turning the infrastructure operation to an as-a-service provider?

I do think that in either scenario, designs and content can create beautiful user experiences and can close the gap between what we have time to do vs. what our aspirations are.

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I went for the as-a-service route. I’m doing it all myself atm as a ‘one person thing’, self hosting might push me over the edge. :sweat_smile:

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I agree, and if you can use an off-the-shelf forum platform and customise that to keep the budget down. We’ve done some really deep customisations to our platform for clients.

That’s one benefit of not using an app based community platform.