2015 HUG Awards: Community of the Year & More

By Calista Rollogas posted Oct 28, 2015 11:42 PM



Each year at Super Forum, we like to take a few minutes to acknowledge the exceptional, creative, and innovative success of our clients. We select winners in three categories: Most Successful Launch, Best Website Design, and Best Community Site.

This year, the competition was so fierce, we had no choice but to recognize three winners in each category. We hope you’ll take a few minutes to review the winners’ sites and strategies and see if there are any takeaways that might be relevant to your own community or site.

Most Successful Launch

The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA)

Why We Love It: AAPA’s implementation project manager, Edmond LeBer, couldn’t brag enough about this group. Their major claim to fame? Launching a pilot site in only 30 days with 5,000 members at their annual conference. Only one month later, AAPA unveiled their fully-functional community with an Open Forum to their full member roster of 50,000 with great success. Their first 90 days alone generated nearly 1,500 unique discussions.

In addition to being a very strategic, well-planned implementation team, we attribute AAPA’s legendary launch in part to their dedication to Higher Logic’s recommended best practices for engagement, marketing, and more.

SAE International

Why We Love It: Part of SAE’s success stems from the fact that they got their community managers (Higher Logic’s own Lindsay Starke and Angelika Lipkin) involved at implementation. By using this approach, the go-live was able to be guided ensuring all best practices and strategy were incorporated from the onset. As a result, the community generated nearly 1,000 posts in its first 90 days.

Additionally, SAE International worked with our partner, Brightfind, to design a truly stunning site that is not only attractive to viewers, but drives engagement by making recent community activity the focal point of the site. Getting Started, Recent Discussions, and Recent Active Members are the top three categories you see above the fold, with all SAE organizational news and content below the fold where it is still easily accessible, but the focus remains on peer-to-peer engagement.

American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT)

Why We Love It: In just its first 60 days, the ASRT Community generated 4,100 public messages and another 500 private replies. While ASRT’s member base is significantly larger than the average organization, their strong discussion level is closely tied to their high subscription rate. With a staggering 90% of members subscribed to at least one community, member engagement remains high and discussions overwhelmingly robust.

Furthermore, ASRT boasts a phenomenal user experience. This is thanks to the fact that they were meticulous in their implementation process and have done an amazing job in finding bugs and troubleshooting any member issues within the Higher Logic software.

Best Website Design

The Commercial Finance Association (CFA)

Why We Love It: With a modern, sleek design implemented by Phil Foss of HighStrap, CFA’s community site is easy on the eyes while incorporating multiple elements including ads, social feeds, multimedia, publications, and more. The design seamlessly incorporates high levels of customization that give CFA’s members the tools and content they need to engage with each other and build loyalty with the organization.

The American Public Gas Association

Why We Love It: APGA partnered with Emeri Schweigert of eConverse to create this highly visual, immersive site with an overall clean design. The site is still heavily focused on the community aspect, but is personalized enough to give APGA members the feeling that their community was designed specifically for them and their needs.

The University of Florida Alumni Association (UFAA)

Why We Love It: UFAA offers its members one of the most visually stunning sites I’ve seen come across the Higher Logic platform. In partnership with Brightfind, UFAA has customized nearly every aspect of the site from graphically appealing headers, to gator-shaped footers. UFAA’s community is consistently one of our staff favorites and is often bookmarked and referenced for innovative design and creativity.


Best Community Site

National Association of Foreign Student Advisers (NAFSA)

Why We Love It: NAFSA offers its members a higher-than-average number of communities to engage with—a whopping 307! Despite taking on this huge challenge, NAFSA’s many communities are thriving and buzzing with activity. The key to their success? Excellent strategy and systems in place to delegate community roles, each tasked with moderation and engagement responsibilities.

By the numbers (in the past year):

  • 38,613 total logins
  • Average replies per thread: 2.44
  • Average number of subscriptions per active member: 2.62

The Coin Laundry Association (CLA)

Why We Love It: CLA successfully caters to three separate audiences: members, coin laundry owners, and investors. With thriving and robust discussions in their open forum ranging from design to product recommendations, to how to deal with difficult customers, it’s easy to see why CLA community members keep coming back for more.

By the numbers (in the past year):

  • 106,514 total logins
  • 69% subscription rate
  • 2.97 million blog views

The HTG Peer Groups

Why We Love It: HTG’s Community, “The Hub” shows just how active this community is from the homepage. Discussions, blogs, and library resources stream in at consistent pace. More shocking than the rate at which activity happens, however, is HTG’s unbelievable  99.98% subscription rate!

By the numbers (in the past year):

  • 121,936 discussion group posts written
  • Average number of subscriptions per member = 5.2
  • 99.98% subscription rate



Last, but certainly not least, we want to take a moment to recognize our 2015 HUG MVPs. You know these people well thanks to the countless hours they spend combing HUG for unanswered posts, sharing their wealth of knowledge and resources, and providing a treasure trove of helpful answers and detailed responses to each of our questions about community best practices and the Higher Logic platform.

We selected this year’s MVP’s based on the quality of their contributions, including:

a.     Answering peers’ questions in a timely, thoughtful, and substantive way

b.     Having many HUG members denote their posts as the “best answer” in the thread

c.     Sharing helpful resources

d.    Receiving many “recommends” to both the resources he/she uploaded and discussion posts they’ve written

e.     His or her spirit of giving back their time, experience, and knowledge

Feel free to drop these folks a note of congratulations (or thanks!) and add them as contacts in HUG!

For more information on the criteria used to select the winners or to hear what Andy Steggles, president and chief customer officer at Higher Logic had to say about the winners, check out the official press release.