In 2005, GoLightly productized its community platform, and dedicated the company's talent and resources to building out the platform and making it accessible to a much larger number of organizations. Through viral marketing and word of mouth, GoLightly has become one of the premier providers of online community collaboration tools.
GoLightly is a leader in delivering effective and easy-to-use online community solutions for membership organizations. We provide superior technology and service that ensure that your online community enhances your organization's success.
- Expertise. We've learned what makes online communities work through years of research and experience serving organizations like La Leche League International, Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network (N-TEN), the YMCA and the Red Cross. Our team has been building web sites since 1996, and our software is on the leading edge of integrated community collaboration. Our staff are experts in implementing solutions that work for you!
- We make it easy. Your GoLightly Community is easy to administer, and our tools are intuitive and very user-friendly.
- Affordable, Built with Open Source Technology. Our use of open source software lowers our operating costs, and allows us to offer a powerful, yet affordable solution for your community building needs.
- The Personal Touch. Our founders have instilled a passionate commitment to personal attention in our company. We take the time to learn about your needs and make sure our systems are right for you.
- We care. In addition to providing professional excellence, at GoLightly we run our business with consciousness of our impact on the world. By helping our clients bring their communities closer together, we are making the world a better place.
Evaluating Community Options
If you're ready to start building an online membership community, you'll need to decide how to select the best software solution to support your community programs. When confronting this challenge, it's wise to evaluate not only the features that are critical to your needs, but technical and ongoing support considerations as well. All these factors contribute to your total cost of ownership and affect the benefits you realize from your system.
Essentially, there are three options for creating an online community:
- Build your own software
- Purchase a software package (or download open source software) and manage it yourself
- Use a software services vendor (a hosted ASP platform)
Building your own system requires considerable technical and design expertise, and is generally suitable only for large organizations with highly specialized requirements. Ongoing development, maintenance, support, and security and email management will require significant investments in technology and expertise.
Purchasing a software package (or downloading open source software) will eliminate the need for software design and development, but will require investments in IT, including hardware, staff, updates, security management, and backup systems.
Software Services - Benefits
Software services, i.e., software accessed via the Internet through an Application Service Provider (ASP), allow you to focus on your core mission, while leaving software development, maintenance and management to the ASP. The benefits of the ASP model include:
- The system is available 24/7, anywhere, by anyone with an internet connection
- No hardware requirements
- No worries about software development, system upgrades, security, email blacklisting, backups, or scalability
- The ASP vendor specializes in developing online community features and functions, which become automatically available to you as they go online
As you evaluate potential vendors, keep in mind that you're not just buying software features. You'll also want to consider:
- Experience: what is the vendor's track record in building and supporting online communities?
- Product development: does the vendor incorporate their clients' feedback and requests into their product development cycle, and regularly add new features?
- Ease of use: how easy is the system to set up and use? Will your members be able to utilize the features without a lot of training?
- Flexibility: can you customize or add features to meet your needs? Does the system integrate with your existing website and database?
- Reliability: what is the vendor's uptime track record? Are they there when you need them?
- Support: what kind of customer support does the vendor have? Is it included in your fees or do you pay extra?
- Training: what kind of training does the vendor provide? Is it included in the setup or do you have to pay extra?
- References: ask for contact information of current vendor clients.