Digital nomads building virtual communities

“Sense of community is a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to be together” (McMillan, 1976).

This is the definition for a “sense of community”, it describes the factors that help bring people together and make them feel part of something bigger.  A sense of community can come in many different forms, but for me, it’s hard to think of a more faithful depiction of a community than amongst the fishing towns dotted across the coast of Cornwall.  From the large and bustling Newlyn to the tiny Mevagissey harbour, you’ll find the same thing at their core: fishermen and their families.

So, when our Mindfully Wired micro-community of digital nomads was approached by the Cornish Fish Producers’ Organisation (a local not for profit co-operative for fishermen in Cornwall) to revamp their website, we knew we had a unique task ahead of us. How could we harness the heritage, culture and heart of the Cornish fishing community and transfer it to a digital world without losing its character and charm? Is it possible to create a virtual sense of community?

Our answer: absolutely!

Because a website should always be more than a platform to hold information about your business, portfolio or products. It should tell a story to engage users, and allow them to learn more about the things that make you, or your organisation, tick. (It’s one of things that will help digital visitors to stick around).   

Indulge in imagery:

Striking seascapes and stories from working fishermen immediately start to draw you in to the CFPO site. Using the well-loved Cornish colour palette (bold black-on-white and sunshine yellow) helped speak to the story of Cornish heritage and community, welcoming users in to a familiar place and encouraging them to come and explore. A big thanks Rick Davy, Tony Fitzsimmons, Nina Constable and Larry Hartwell for contributing their images to the Cornish Fish Producers’ Organisation’s website.

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Membership:

One of the four factors that help to contribute to a sense of community is membership. When you are a member of something it helps to give you a sense of belonging and identification. On the CFPO members’ page Paul Trebilcock (CFPO Chief Exec) wanted to make sure you could see the vessel name and fishing method of every one of his members. This opens a window onto the diversity of the Cornish fleet, and helps you to learn a little bit more about all the fishermen dotted along the Cornish coast, their home ports and their all-important vessel names.

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Heritage:

“It’s our members who have always been, and always will be, at the very heart of the CFPO and it’s those active fishermen who shape the work of the CFPO today.”

Starting with just a handful of fishermen in 1975 the CFPO remains today as the genuine voice of fishermen.  It was important that the new website had a page to reflect their heritage and why we insisted their Chief Executive, Paul Trebilcock, dug out their first CFPO membership book so we could take a picture of those founding names. It’s the small details like this that help to make a website more than just an information platform. It’s a place where stories are told and history is remembered.

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Stories of sustainability:

Every fish has a story to tell, but how much do you know about the fish on your dinner plate? The CFPO website gives you the chance to learn all about how hard Cornish fishermen are working to continuously improve and promote their sustainable fishing practices.

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Head over to their website to find out more and get in contact with us if you have a website project you need some help with!