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How to Build a Question and Answer Website Like Quora

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Yuri Musienko
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Featured image for How to Build a Question and Answer Website Like Quora

Quora is a free, public Q & A platform. The service is included in the top 250 most visited sites in the world (top 80 at its peak) and generates revenue of over $ 12 billion a year. From our article you will learn why this site has become so successful and how to use this knowledge to create your own website like Quora.

1. Features of the Quora business model

Concept. Quora is a cross between a social network such as Facebook or LinkedIn, and the usual online forums. Anyone can go to the site, ask their questions to other users and answer existing ones. This model is not new; Yahoo Answers, Stack Exchange, Answerbag and many other Q&A projects have been using it for a long time. Quora feature was as follows:
  1. Users are required to register under their real names. This is necessary so that people understand who answers their questions. For example, if you ask a question about car repair, whose answer would you consider correct: an auto mechanic, a teacher, or a priest? Most likely, you would be guided by the answer of an auto mechanic. And it also allows you to check whether the respondent advertises his product or service.
  2. The platform began to use a system to encourage user participation through internal currency - loans that were issued for good answers, subscriptions, etc. Credits were needed to ask questions, contact experts directly, promote publications, and so on. This innovation was a small revolution for Q&A sites.
In 2015, Quora replaced the credit system with a new mechanic with “more” or “less” high authority for questions and answers in the news feed and expert appeals. This is a simpler system to understand, which automatically ranks all posts depending on several factors: the level of expertise of the author in the desired niche, user activity, the number of direct calls to the presenter or responder, and the like.

It is also worth noting that, despite the mandatory use of real first and last names, you can ask anonymous questions on Quora. This feature is introduced to protect people from negative reactions if they ask questions about the future employer or a problem that has arisen because of them. Those who don’t want to see anonymous questions in the feed can turn them off.

Monetization. In the first seven years of its existence (2009–2017), the platform developed exclusively thanks to investments, without any own income. Monetization on the site appeared only in 2016, when they introduced the opportunity to advertise goods and services of third-party resources. Since then, advertising has been the only way to monetize a project, except for the sale of personal data (which is not discussed openly, but everyone does it, especially if you have specific surnames with user names).

Website Like Quora advertisement

Quora advertisement
Creating your own Q & A site, you don’t have to repeat the Quora Ads monetization model. In addition to advertising external brands, you can also:
  1. Accept donations. By providing quality content, you can ask the user to support the project with money. This is the standard practice that Wikipedia and many other projects use.
  2. Premium features. Question and answer sites can increase profitability due to the paid connection of the possibility of customizing your profile and posts, advanced statistics, disabling ads, premium groups and more.
  3. Google AdSense. Automatic placement of contextual advertising on your site. This is perhaps the easiest way to monetize any site.
Of course, you can also make good money selling personal data as soon as the user base of your site becomes large enough to interest marketers. “Sufficient” size is determined by the niche, quantity and quality of data collected for each user.

2. Niche and target audience of the project

Website Like Quora Geography and percentage
Geography and percentage of website visitors by country in October 2019. : Source of the image
In the early years, Quora posts were linked to general marketing and enterprise tips. It was a conscious choice of the project team, which decided to focus on one niche, and not on questions and answers about everything in the world. Thanks to this, it was possible to create a platform for like-minded people who willingly share their experience with everyone who wants to (increasing their own authority and sense of significance).

When the site became the first in the chosen niche, the topics of the posts expanded: technology, books, fashion, health, art and much more. According to the data for 2018, the topics are now in the top popularity: entertainment, travel, business, marketing, training and technology.

When creating your own site of questions and answers, it is best to go the same way: concentrate on one niche, gather experts on the platform, become a leader in the chosen niche and then gradually expand the topic. Choosing a specific niche may be based on several factors:

  1. The Quora project was initially focused on marketing and business, your site can be related to agriculture, ecology, pets, education, diving and any other topic.
  2. You can create a site that focuses on a particular city, region or country. This is the easiest option, provided that there are no direct competitors in the market. The project can be both general and can help solve niche issues related, for example, to tourism, business, education, utilities, law and more.
  3. Target group. Students, parents, doctors, left-handed people, emigrants or any other group of people face their own specific problems, and they usually look for answers online. Your site can become a platform where such people will share their personal experience and knowledge.
It is not recommended to create sites related to politics. Usually they scold and blame each other, agitate for some parties and engage in propaganda.

3. Basic and advanced features

Website Like Quora User Panel Features
Quora User Panel Features
Quora, Reddit, Yahoo Answers and other similar sites have a very simple and intuitive design because they are designed so that anyone can get the knowledge they need or share their experience. When designing your Q&A site, you should follow a similar approach.

In this case, you need to implement functions for two user roles:

Website Like Quora user roles

These are the basic functions that are enough for a regular site of questions and answers. However, this will not be enough if there are worthy competitors in the niche you have chosen. To get around them, you need to offer users something that others do not, and / or make everything leagues ahead. You can achieve this with:

  1. Ranking content. It is necessary to reward the best posts and limit the flood, and also so that experts do not drown in direct calls to them. The experience of Quora shows that it is advisable not to use systems where people need to calculate or count something. Such a mechanism should work automatically, based on the number of views, likes, designs, marks “Best answer” or “Helped”, etc.
  2. Expert level testing. There are marks on the social networks Instagram, Facebook and Twitter that show that this or that account really belongs to a famous person or brand, and not to a fan or copycat. A similar mark can be entered on the Q & A site, which confirms that this user is really a NASA engineer, Google marketer, biology teacher or mechanic with 10 years of experience.
  3. It will be useful if users want to get a response from someone who lives in a particular area. For example, if you want to know about the sights of Prague, then you probably want to get an answer from a resident of this region, and not an employee of a travel agency in your city.
  4. Integration with external services. For example, from YouTube for visual instructions, social networks - automatically pulling up photos and personal data, Google maps - indicating the exact location of people, companies, public services, shops, attractions and other things.
  5. Support for multiple languages. Quora began actively promoting the project on non-English sites in 2016. You can do this from the start. At the same time, it is desirable that the site has a built-in translator for chat and posts (can be implemented using integration with Google Translate).
  6. Video call to an expert. It will help if you need to visually show / evaluate how something works. For example, if you need to repair plumbing or set up electronics, then you call an expert and through the camera on your smartphone show what is what and he directs your actions (this way even a plane can be landed). This function can be paid and shared with an expert or taken a commission if the expert’s services are paid.
  7. You can also create special conditions for cooperation with suppliers of goods and services. For example, the ability to directly call a service provider (car rental, equipment repair, ticket purchase, etc.) from the application.

4. Technological stack and cost

Website Like Quora Technological stack
Technological stack for developing a site like Quora
To create a Q & A site, you need to hire a team of web developers, which will include the following specialists:
  1. 1 project manager. He is engaged in general management of the development process and communication with the customer, if this is a team of web developers on outsourcing.
  2. 1-2 UX / UI designer. Responsible for design and interface development.
  3. 1-2 iOS / Android developers. More than 80% of smartphone users prefer to use the service using an application rather than a browser (75% of Quora visitors access the service via phones).
  4. 1-2 backend developers. Responsible for creating the “server” part of the site.
  5. 1-2 frontend developers. Responsible for implementing software that interacts with users.
  6. 1-2 QA specialist. Responsible for software quality.
The specific number of specialists depends on the scale of the project and the time derived for development. The development cost is usually determined by simply multiplying the development time by the hourly rate of specialists. The rate depends on the country and the experience of the hired specialist.

For a platform like Quora, the cost of creating a site is in the range of $ 20,000 to $ 50,000, depending on the hourly rate. At the same time, the amount can easily go up to $ 100,000 and higher if you need to implement many unique functions and / or make a high-quality mobile application.

If you want to save money, you can use WordPress themes (from 0 to 1000 dollars for one theme). However, in this case, it is better to hire a web developer to configure the theme, CMS and hosting. So you speed up the launch of the site and you can avoid many problems of growth.

5. Marketing strategy

Website Like Quora website traffic

Quora website traffic sources in October 2019. Source of the image

After you create the website of questions and answers, you will need to solve two problems: fill the site with useful content and attract visitors with experts who will ask questions and answer them. The Quora team solved the first problem in the simplest way: they themselves filled the website with questions and answered them.

When a staff member had a question, he did not go to a colleague or boss, but described the problem on the site. Other employees regularly looked at the feed with questions and gave answers to them if they were sure of the correct answer. Thus, the project team solved their problems and at the same time filled the site with content - simple, useful and free.

The second problem (user engagement) was also solved by simple methods:

  1. Paid promotion in search engines and specialized resources. Given that Quora's target audience is people who are looking for answers to specific questions (long phrase), it’s relatively easy to select and target such users.
  2. Content quality. The project team created a ranking system that showed visitors the most useful content and encouraged to share their knowledge and experience. This helped launch a network effect that attracted both new visitors and experts. According to Alexa.com, 63% of Quora visits come from Google or other search engines.
  3. Social networks. Facebook and Twitter activity and advertising also helped Quora attract users.
To increase user engagement, Quora makes an email once a week and rewards top experts with valuable gifts. You can do the same, but it’s worth realizing the possibility of reposting the question / answer on social networks, creating a gamification system, as well as rating the best experts and rewarding them with part of the site’s profit.

Merehead does professional development of question and answer website. If you have questions, contact us for a free consultation.

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