What is the best way to make people feel at home? Decorate!
Communities mainly exist for people to engage with one another. Therefore it’s important that people feel safe and comfortable enough in the community to engage in conversation, to begin with. A welcoming look and feel can really help achieve this. Your look and feel and tone-of-voice can also help make your brand more recognizable to your (potential) audience. This way, when they encounter you somewhere else, they know it’s you and are reminded of your community.
Unless you already have a logo and look-and-feel, be sure to remember the psychological effects colors can have on people. Red is viewed as bold but can also be experienced as aggressive, green is generally experienced as peaceful but is also associated with the environment, and grey may come across as balanced but can also be viewed as a little boring. Come up with different variations of your logo and color combinations for your community. Run a poll among your friends or co-workers to check what associations they have with those colors. Adjust, and try again until you found the perfect look and feel for your community.
When you determine your tone-of-voice, you need to know what kind of community you would like to start. Do you want it to be open so everyone can say whatever they want, whenever they want? Or do you want to make sure your community doesn’t get too cluttered and chaotic, meaning you should be more stern from the start? Consider how formal or informal and inclusive you want your community to be and what tone-of-voice can trigger users to engage and be responsive in the most meaningful way.
Tip: Be sure to use your community colors or logo for the Site Manager and Content Manager profile pictures, so it’s easy for people to recognize official topics, groups, and responses.