I. The look
I don't regard myself as an artist in any fashion, so it would be difficult for me to outline visual aesthetics that I would regard as acceptable on a website under my control. The best I can describe is that I happen to champion a lot of simple yet committed to structured building blocks and welcoming colors. Admittedly in this department, despite the lack of discernible (though minor) updates, I would argue Anispace excels in this department. In short, I like the look of it. The colors, the shapes, the navigation. It's something I would adopt if I ever got ambitious enough and created my own world.
II. Whose site is it anyway?
Another thing I'll give the site credit for is it's emphasis on catering to a particular sub-culture and shaping it's walls to attract people with anime and things of the like as the cornerstone for what ultimately unites the population to varying degrees. That is not to say I would discourage the other areas such as video games, music, technology, RP, etc; nor would I discourage the practice of finding others within our community with which you can converse with about similar interests and mutually build your knowledge and appreciation on the subject. I would press however that one of the necessary steps to build a sense of union and align the people on the same page would be to give the site as a whole a sense of identity and unifying purpose. "What are we all here for? What brought us here initially? Well it's X." With this in mind, while accommodating others users and open the floors for other forms of discussion, I'd very much spread the umbrella over all with a label that says: This is an anime website.
III. Target audience and Building the Community
"Every person is an individual. Every person has untapped potential". I'm not a fan of socially inclusive ideas. But on this idea alone that I have fought hard against for so long I will admit, thanks to the wisdom of a wise girl, that I was wrong. Each and every human being, regardless of the lack of skill, public acts of stupidity, and general agitation that these people may provoke in us, have the capacity to change greatly for the better. To mold themselves gradually into a productive person who is a value to themselves and to the people that care about them. It's all about having the will as an individual to want to change and having the emotional support of his/her friends and loved ones to assist this person on his journey; and on a public scale, opening the floors to allow those individuals to flourish.
So then the question becomes: How do we set the conditions necessary to encourage this behavior? On a practical level, we want a better behaved, smarter, more productive community. A set of people who help each other grow as human beings instead of mocking and belittling for their perceived failures and shortcomings. We want a set of people who are only too happy to share in their hobbies and interests with active listening and giving; while simultaneously encouraging others to jump in and perhaps even work together on a united front in tangible projects aimed at celebrating those very same interests and hobbies. Something that grand and challenging surely has more than one answer to that question. For my money, the solution is to lead by example. Believe that everyone here is a diamond in the rough, that everyone is capable of contributing and greatness, that everyone here is capable of cultivating and sharing in your passion and having a damn great time doing it. And then going out to prove that this is correct one day at a time; helping those that stumble along the way and encouraging them to shine brighter and brighter in whatever they do here.
That sounds like a vital ingredient to a healthy community to me.