A recent post under “General Discussion” deals with the fact that the disappearance of both Photoportfolios and personal galleries from NPN is a problem for some members. This post speaks to that, and to other reasons why amateur nature photographers join or leave NPN.
It appears that the “Gallery” section of NPN is now a collective gallery instead of individual personal galleries for each member. Some NPN members have expressed a desire for personal galleries that we had before on NPN (or perhaps an updated version of the old Photoportfolios). In the past, several members have told us in the discussion forums that NPN is their sole means to display their work online. This sends me the message that a significant number of amateur photographers become NPN members because NPN offers the complete package: image critiques; discussion boards; AND a place to showcase their work.
Because providing personal galleries or portfolios may be technically difficult and/or expensive, it has been suggested that members simply start using other Web sites to display their images. If they take that suggestion to continue in NPN, AND start using a separate Web site for image display, I wonder how many will end up drifting away from NPN? How large is the pool of people willing to spend the time, money and energy on multiple online photography platforms?
I suspect that MOST (not just many) photography enthusiasts have a full plate of other interests and time commitments. Does telling those NPN members and potential members to put their time, money and energy into other Web sites to display their work amount to a suggestion to just go away?
The answer is that we don’t really know; that would be mere speculation. For that matter, what do we really know about ANY of the reasons people join or leave NPN?
What FACTS do we have to guide NPN’s development of services to members? Do we have more than guesses, assumptions and speculation about these issues? Is there any data specific to NPN members to support any hypothesis about reasons for dwindling participation? I WONDER:
Has anyone done exit surveys to determine why people leave NPN?
Has anyone queried former members in an organized way to see what might entice them to return?
Has anyone done a scientific survey of members to determine what features or potential features are most valued by them?
Has anyone done a survey of potential NPN members to ask what they want in an online community for nature photographers? (Who would you survey – people suggested by members? Other lists for sale? If there were a way to reach out, would a longer free trial membership for survey participants get more replies?)
I don’t have the answers. I don’t even know if NPN is a hobby or a business, but if it requires a significant investment of time or money, market research would seem to be an absolutely necessary starting point.