Over the past year, I've written a number of blog posts about new feature releases on our products, some structured tutorials and a couple of thought pieces. I've tried to make sure the posts were well thought through and that readers could use them as reference in the future, kind of like informal documentation.
It takes a bit of time to write these posts, and when running 3 products, working with customers, managing custom client projects, time is precious.
I love writing, it really helps me to get stuff out of my head and to reinforce my understanding of concepts I'm thinking about and working on. Over the past year, in between the blog posts, I've been writing about the various things I've been working on in a more conversational, fluid way and I'd like to share that with you all in the hope my one-way writing can become more of a conversation.
But first, some context...
Welcome to The Guild
The Guild is a community platform, a modern forum, if you like. Yes, it's a Discourse powered site. If you've been a member of the Envato, Twitter or New Relic communities (as well as many others) you'll already be very familiar.
The site is structured around our core products, predominantly. Here, you can find all sorts of additional information about various topics relating to the Beach products.
What many of you don't know about me, is that I'm a bit of a product hacker. I love thinking of new ideas and using web and mobile technology to experiment with them. If you're into that too, you might enjoy the Concepts & Ideas category of posts.
Up until now, it's been rather lonely in here. The Guild was a somewhat over-engineered way for me to take and store my notes.
The Beach community is really strong, with more than 12,000 people actively using our products. Our active Slack team room often surprises me with just how supportive and helpful our customers can be to each other.
Now it's time to take that to the next level.
I am planning to tie in community participation to our business model, whereby the most helpful, most supportive members will be rewarded. It could be with product discounts, it could be with financial rewards, it could be with increased community status and responsibility, it could be with schwwwaaaag. Likely it will be all those things and more.
I want the Beach community to continue to grow in size, sure, but most importantly social value. We're lucky that some of the internet's most creative people use our products. If you would like to become top tier web designer or developer, if you would like to build better products or provide better services to your clients, then Beach is the place to belong.
Taking our first step in this direction, I have commissioned some delicious custom community Badges. These are awarded for achievements within the community, either automagically (your first Topic Post, for example) or manually, from one of the community moderators (the Elders, if you like).
No community site is complete without roles and status. In our community, status is achieved through merit, granted to those who most embody the spirit of our community - in demonstrating excellence in their craft & going out of their way to help others.
Our community roles are designed around the progression of a Blacksmith's Apprentice, from a young and fresh faced newcomer through to the end goal of achieving Master Craftsman.
For now, in order to ensure that the community is managed well and the content and conversation stays on track, access is by Invite-Only for our users.
If you'd like to join The Guild and participate in the conversation, then please let me know by clicking below and I'll send you an invite link.
What is Beach?
There has been a disconnect between the company (Beach) and the products (Hammer, Anvil, Forge).
The Beach name is very personal to me, living as I do on the South Coast of the UK, and having spent a large amount of my life on or around the beach. The lifestyle, beach sports, the culture - it's part of my character and I'm privileged that I have the freedom to build a company that embodies my personality as much as do all the stuff a business needs to do.
But yet, I love the Blacksmith theme of product names and identities. The metaphor fits so perfectly, the utility is key. The question has been, how to align these in a more effective way, to both solve the current disconnection but also to pave the way for a brighter future, with room for growth, new products, new features and a well conceived & communicated vision.
So I imagined that Beach is our virtual island of creativity and technical excellence. Inspired by Viking myths, fire-breathing dragons and medieval craftsmanship. The visuals are stunning, the narrative compelling and I have indulged my enjoyment of these themes, I must admit.
This is the first step towards a more complete visual identity for Beach that will encapsulate all that we do and enable us to tell a better, more cohesive story. For now, Beach is where we live. It's who we are and what we do.
Within Beach, our collective community of creatives can become members of The Guild. In the next posts, I'll be talking about what we're planning for Beach, introducing some new Beach product ideas we've been working on as well as the usual product updates. Have a great week!