Re-paving the Roads: An SAP Community Navigation Update
Starting today, you’ll notice some big changes happening around the SAP Community. I want to share some information and context for three major improvements that are near and dear to my heart: first, the relaunch of the Browse the Community page; next, and perhaps the most visible, the rebuild of the SAP Community home page (coming next week); and lastly, to tie it all together, the extension of the +Actions menu (also, coming next week).
A Comprehensive Approach
In Gali Kling Schneider’s blog post earlier this week, she refers to two major focus areas of the team right now and into the near future: content discovery and community feel. You’ll notice that neither of these focus areas is specific to any individual application within the site. Instead, the team and I are taking a holistic view of the user experience to address the navigation gaps facing you, our members, and the impact of those gaps on your ability to connect with other users and community content.
As you can see in the roadmap published this week by Oliver Kohl, we are tackling this issue across the board, from search enhancements to streamlining the tagging experience. You’ll also see that while we are rolling out new versions of the following three features starting today and over the next few days, the development on them does not stop here. We expect continuing improvements in each of these three areas over the coming weeks.
Browse the Community Reborn (Today)
The Browse the Community page is one of the top 5 clicked links from the SAP Community home page, and for that reason, building value back into it has become a personal mission of mine. The first iteration of this page was a list of popular topic pages that only encompassed a small fraction of the available content. As a “browse” function, this didn’t serve much of the available content to users. It even added to confusion and gave users the wrongful impression that the community content was limited to these 120+ topic areas.
In re-building it, we felt that the function of the Browse the Community page should give you an easy way to visualize the structure of the SAP Community, while allowing you to find topics you might be interested in more easily. This page now features two tabs:
- Popular, which includes links to the original 120+ list of popular topic areas.
- All Content, which includes links to all tag pages that have content, broken down by category.
From each of the new tabs, you can click one of the category jump links to quickly move down the page to your area of interest:
From the All Content tab, we did not want to send users to empty tag pages, and paring down the list by removing tags with no content allowed us to deliver a slightly more easily consumable list. However, you can still find all available tags in the primary and secondary tag selection on each of the content creation pages. This tab will be updated regularly as new content is created.
Home Page Rebuilt (Target: Next Week)
When rebuilding the home page, we considered many of the major complaints since launch, including the large hero image (banner at the top of the page) and outdated content.
In the new version, the hero image will be much smaller and will no longer contain the rotating feature, giving the page less of a “marketing” look and feel. We’re also including blog feeds from some of the current most popular tags that will update regularly throughout the day (approximately every 15 minutes to be more exact). Just below the blog feeds, you’ll find the most recent questions posted (also updated every 15 minutes), as well as a new section called “What’s Trending in the Community.” The trending section is based on the most used tags over the past two weeks.
We’re also elevating the visibility of Member of the Month, which will show not only the current SAP Community member featured, but the honorees for previous months. In addition, you’ll find social media feeds for both Facebook and Twitter for SAP Community.
+Actions Menu Extended (Target: Next Week)
As a part of our work to align your experience across the entire set of community pages, we’re extending access to the +Actions menu. You should recognize this menu from the Blogs and Q&A pages, where it provides quick access to common tasks, such as Ask a Question and Write a Blog Post.
You will soon have access to this menu from all SAP Community pages whether you are logged in or not. Users who are not logged in will see the menu button and, upon clicking on an action, they will be prompted to log in or register for a new account. So, while this enhancement adds convenience for all our users, it will also help new users to get started with the site.
A Few Closing Remarks
I want to acknowledge that while we have created a way to visualize and navigate the current tag structure with the rebuilt Browse the Community page, I also know that the current unwieldy list of tags is not user-friendly. As you can see in the roadmap, we are concurrently working on improvements to the community’s tag structure and search tools, which will inherently improve this page, as well.
In addition, we’re looking to eliminate the excessive white space from the new home page and Browse the Community pages in the coming weeks. This is a part of the wider SAP.com user experience and design efforts that are taking place around the site.
We offered some initial feedback opportunities to all members prior to launching the new Browse the Community page and will continue to gather feedback about your experience with this and the rest of the site to help shape the evolution of our shared virtual home. You can expect more improvements and enhancements to each of these three features over the weeks leading into SAPPHIRE NOW 2017, and beyond.
did I understand this correctly: the “Browse the Community” page now lists “all” the tags instead of the topic pages?
Will the topic pages come back? There were some useful information on those.
Right now it looks kind of overwelming. No search, not really sorted by a-z or something.
Took me 15 minutes to find the IDM tag in there. Under “Technology Platform”. I used the source code of the page to search for it, as the Chrome search didn’t jump to it. :/
Thanks for taking the time to ask questions and I’m happy to address your two key points:
1. The topic pages are still listed front-and-center. They are represented in the links under the “Popular” tab. The “All Content” tab contains all the tags where content exists.
2. You’re right. This first version of the “All Content” tab does not offer an in-page search functionality. For those who know what they are looking for, you can still use the site search (magnifying glass) from the top of the page, where searching for a tag/topic name should bring the tag or topic page up at the top of the featured results.
If you open the relevant list (Software Products), you’ll be able to jump down to your result within the page using your browser search. (Unfortunately, we were not able to get any sort of auto-expand functionality in this first version.)
The page still needs some buttoning up, for sure, but in collaboration with my colleagues in UX design and on my team, we felt that given our choices with this first iteration (leave the entire list of tags expanded or display all the lists collapsed) it was better to have the less visually overwhelming presentation of the page. (See #3 below.)
After several discussions to weigh the pros and cons, I pushed the roll out of this page in its current state based on four major criteria:
We are also continuing to work closely with our UX team to tighten up the navigation across every step of your journey through the community.
TLDR; Yes, I agree wholeheartedly that the page needs additional ways to explore the content; for example, an in-page search and/or an A-Z listing. We’re working on rolling something out in the near term, but in the meantime, I hope you will agree that this is an improvement that we can build on.
My very best,
thanks for sharing!
I just noticed, that the new Overview Page is live now, nice!
(When I read your blog this morning, I expected that only next week - but now I notice, that as you wrote that on April 13th, "next week" is now! 🙂 )
I like the "Latest xxx" Categories - what I'd also like to have is a "more"-button for each one (More ABAP-Blogs, More Mentor Blogs...), rather that just having the "View all blogs"-button).
Same goes for Q+A.
How are the Tags(?) ABAP and Mentor chosen here? Statically, as someone decided so? Or dynamically, as those are the most popular (by Views/Likes?) right now?! (I guess it's static, and I think that's fine. Just curious! )
Another Idea: Could the "latest Blogs" get a filter so the ones that are featured in another colum already don't take up space? (Example: "ABAP Unix timestamp" in my Screenshot).
"Member of the Month"-Feature is very nice, so is the Social-Media integration!
I like it!
I love your idea about adding a "More" button to each of the different feeds. I'll pass that along to the team.
The tags/topics are chosen based upon activity level. You might be surprised to know that the 'top tags' by activity level don't change too drastically or very often, for that matter. If we start to see another one inching up, we'd probably need to update the home page as well.
I am a big fan of your idea about reducing redundancy in the highlighted blog feeds. I'll ask our development team to look into that.
Thanks again for taking the time to engage here, Joachim!
Other thoughts that come to my mind about the new Overview Page:
- While the Q&A part already provide names (including a link to the profile) and avatar of the author, the blog part does not yet. It's probably still the issue described here: https://answers.sap.com/questions/84736/index.html
- On the same line: While blogs says "[time] ago", Q&A gives the timestamp - maybe this, too, could be aligned
- That big picture is still pretty big, taking about half the screen... couldn't we get rid of that in order to see more content? (Yeah, marketing… ;-| )
- I don't know about "Trending in the Community" - those are just topics, right?! I would like to see some actual content here (e.g. a highly-liked blog, or highly-discussed questions); grouping that by topics seems a good Idea.
- If something is "trending" it would be nice to also see the metrics (so many likes/views/comments /viewsPerMinute ...) by which this trend is derived.
- with the “latest blogs”-parte, every blogger now gets (at least) a few minutes/seconds of Frontpage-Fame! 😉
Another Idea: Jamie, you're basically announcing 3 big new features here. Maybe you could use this blog as an overview (with links), and give each feature it's on blog and thus its own comment-section?!
Again, nice to see things change for the better! Thanks a lot to you and the team!
Thanks, as always, for the great comments and questions!
We are actively working to continue to make the home page more dynamic in the next iterations. Something I personally would love to see is greater personalization on that page (e.g. dynamic feeds of the tags you follow). We're heading in the right direction, but not quite there yet.
Also, regarding the metadata displayed: we are also working on aligning the UI for all list views across the site. You should see the same data in the same format, regardless of where you are viewing a list of content from - be it your profile, a tag page, or search results. This would also apply to the view on the home page, so keep an eye out for updates on this effort.
Regarding why I published this as one post rather than a series: I wanted to clearly explain that we are pushing hard away from the mentality of developing features and enhancements on an app-by-app basis and working to better align the experience across the entire site. It was important to me to share the mindset and thought process that goes into these improvements from an end-to-end user experience perspective. Going forward, it's likely that you'll see more specific updates coming from each of the members on our team who are responsible for the various enhancements as they roll out.
I noticed yesterday, and continuing today, we're starting to get questions posted in the Coffee Corner (see discussion here - https://answers.sap.com/articles/180201/is-it-my-imagination-or-are-people-suddenly-asking.html). Jurgen suggested this might be due to confusion between "Ask a Question" and "Start a discussion" in the Actions menu, and that the fact that this might be more widely visible now than previously. I wonder if we need to change "Start a discussion" to something else (or remove it completely) before this becomes too big a problem?
Thanks Steve - we're addressing this issue right now, removing Start a Discussion from the other non-Coffee Corner pages.
I have another screenshot to share where a few more ideas can be evaluated:
It’s all about the “Latest Blogs” part:
(How about using “less than 1 hour ago” -> this does not hint a accuracy that’s not actually there; Or: just update more often ).
Again, those a just Ideas! I like how the overview is going towards “more dynamic”!
EDIT: PS: actually updates now(?) seem to happen more frequently (every 10 minutes?), as can bee seen here:
The target update frequency is around 15 minutes. Please let me know if you keep experiencing delays. For the other suggestions on better curating what displays on the homepage, I’ll pass them on to the team. Thanks!!
This is amazing stuff!
The new design is actually far worse, far less usable than any of the previous designs!
…but perhaps you are trying to reach a different audience, not developers.
( whatever you do, don’t look at the competition inside SAP )
We know our initial design did not meet the needs of our members and we're working around the clock (no, really!) to roll out big improvements to how we deliver content, how you discover content, and how the site can better serve your needs. How do you feel about the above improvements? Are they a step in the right direction in your opinion? What, in your opinion, is the most important change we can make?
(Also, in looking at your example, the first thing I notice is that the volume of content, tags, users that we handle in the Community (millions) is far greater than that handled by the SQLAnywhere forum. We are a different site with different needs.)