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Following the recent announcements about operational changes happening behind the scenes with the Community, I’m excited to share a preview of the site redesign coming later this year. The Community team, in collaboration with our developer and user experience colleagues, has been working on this redesign to address major issues that have contributed to the broken site experience we have today.

This redesign is the culmination of months of work: processing member feedback, building requirements, multiple rounds of revisions, prototyping, and usability testing to ensure that we are putting our best foot forward.

View this brief video to get a first glimpse of the new design:

At 2017 SAP TechEd events in both Las Vegas and Barcelona, Oliver Kohl and I presented a prototype of the redesigned site. While the new UI was not fully functional yet, the prototype allowed us to demonstrate the four core experiential changes that users can expect:

  • Simplified content structure
  • Easier content discovery
  • Personalized experience
  • Better community feel

One of the major challenges that the current site faces is a very flat, wide content structure. With over 4,000 tags on the community, our members have struggled to find the right place to put their content, which, of course makes finding the content nearly impossible.

Not only have we been working on significantly reducing and consolidating tags (See Oliver’s post on the subject), but the new design is built around a much more logical content structure that is ten times smaller than our original tag structure, with the remaining tags rolled up into higher level topics. This change will help you to create a better mental model of where you are in the site at any given time. It will also make it easier to find and create content, and give you a more centralized place to gather with other members who share your interests and follow the same topics as you.

In this new structure, each topic will have its own dedicated topic page. The topic page will have smart content feed with search, filter, and sort capabilities that will help you stay up to date with the activity in that topic area. In addition, you’ll find a list of topic moderators, related resources, featured content, and other related topics that you might be interested in. You’ll also get a quick, at-a-glance view of how many other members are following that topic. Think of this solution as the “spaces” of the future, including all the benefits of gathering together in one place, combined with the ability to cross-tag content to appear in multiple relevant topics.

 

Users will more easily find other community members who share their interests, due to not only the simplified site structure but also because of our new browse and search community tools. Users who have not yet logged in will immediately see these discovery tools, front and center on the page. Click one of the seven main topic category icons to begin exploring the available topic pages. From there, you can either browse the entire list or begin typing into the search field to reduce the results until you find what you are looking for. On the anonymous homepage, you’ll also find recommended topics and content, Community news, featured content, and more.

Remember, at this point, you’re not even logged in yet! Once you log into the new site, you’ll notice a major difference in how you interact with the Community. You will now have one personalized homepage, tailored to show you the content and activity that is relevant to you and the topics and people you’ve followed.

The first thing you’ll notice is a quick view of your profile information, welcoming you to your own special page. Your new activity and notifications streams will be the centerpiece of this page, with new filtering and sorting capabilities and better content grouping to help you get the most value from these tools. You’ll also see links to the topic pages and people whom you’ve followed, as well as suggestions for other topics and people to follow. Plus, you’ll get all the same great features as the anonymous homepage, including trending content and recent activity, Community news, and featured content.

I want to highlight a few additional features that will appear on every Community page:

  • Persistent, complete breadcrumbs to make it easier to navigate throughout the site
  • Easy access to common tasks, such as Write a Blog Post and Ask a Question
  • One-click access to the new Browse All Topics tool

This is just a taste of the major changes you’ll see in the new site redesign. I know your first question is: “when will this be available?” We haven’t announced a launch date yet, but you can expect to see more details, resources, and communications coming soon to help you prepare and get excited about this change.

 

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78 Comments

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    1. Moshe Naveh

      Hi Vadim,

      Unfortunately the review of answers vs. comments concept weren’t included in this phase of the UX work and will be looked at later on.

      Regards,

      Moshe

       

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      1. Vadim Kalinin

        May be it will be too late to discuss answers vs. comments concept if it will require to change Q&A platform (to select something other then AnswerHub)?

        (1) 
  1. Denis Konovalov

    I do see improvement, but I still see lots and lots of unused space and huge areas that do not serve any useful function.
    Was the desktop experience prioritised this time ?

    (10) 
    1. Mike Pokraka

      OK, and my lengthy reply just got lost by this $%^$% site. In short I agree, same awful layout and wasteful design. We’re IT people, we can read normal fonts, we want information, lots of it.

      (8) 
    2. Bill Froelich

      I fully agree.  Maybe the team needs to consider sharing some real screen shots on real monitors.  I run a 27″ monitor and keep my browser full screen for ease of switching between tabs.

      I suspect the vast majority of users keep the browser full screen yet the content only uses at most a 1/3 of the width.  Will this be fixed?

      Even typing in this reply the content is wrapping at 75% of the available area (see attached screen shot) 

      –Bill

       

       

      (5) 
  2. Shiva Vishnubatla

     

    Great news!  really looking forwared to this.
    Agree with Denis – need to make better use of space and less paging. [for example the Oracle & MS  community pages use every bit of space on these pages]
    Less marketing,  more technical content.
    Pls make sure the moderators list and kep upto date.

    (3) 
    1. Jamie Cantrell Post author

      Thanks for the thoughts, Shiva.  We’re hoping to also improve the topic page editor process to help our topic experts keep the information on their pages current. Will share more details as I have them.

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  3. Michelle Crapo

    Is it time to comment with a wish list?  Mine would be really long.   It looks nice.  I will be happier when it is rolled out.  The bugs we’ve been screaming about – will they be fixed too?

    It is a move in the right direction.  Thank you for the early share!

    Michelle

     

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    1. Jamie Cantrell Post author

      Keep in mind that the redesign will also be iterative, in the sense that what you see here is not the end of development. WRT the bug reports, I’ll tap Oliver Kohl to address questions on those 🙂

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      1. Michelle Crapo

        See – Rehearse – Adapt (Open.Sap.com)

        Being able to adapt to a changing environment – I like it.    Oliver – I as many people could send you a long list.     At this point – I don’t think I want to.   Once the changes are made I’m sure it will take things off of my list and add more.

        Thank you for moving this forward,

        Michelle

        (1) 
  4. Vijay Vital

    Thanks for Sharing it look great. I would like to see all platforms linked always link JAM, SCN, Certification manager etc. and that we have one point of entry.

    (1) 
  5. Miles Escow

    So in retrospect, might it just have been better to stay on Jive and concentrate on content and moderation rather than platform and technology?

    I’m asking an honest question because I work with a community team that is perturbed by the recent Lithium buy out of Jive and therefore facing replatforming decisions.

    (0) 
    1. Jamie Cantrell Post author

      Hi Miles,

      Fair question. One of the major benefits of moving off of Jive and towards the tag-based structure was the ability to cross-share information that was genuinely relevant to multiple topics. Another benefit was greater flexibility in custom development, though no one here will argue that our takeoff has not been…bumpy, at best.

      I think a mistake we made in moving off of Jive was to not take the “this worked well” lessons, in addition to the “let’s not do that” lessons. Had we done that, we would not have lost so much of that sense of community and connection that each member had with other members in their interest areas. This new design really reflects that learning — we know there were good parts about “spaces” and we’re trying to bring back the positives while doing a better job of taking advantage of the benefits of having our own platform.

      Best,

      Jamie

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      1. Denis Konovalov

        I haven’t seen even one example where tags are better than spaces so far.
        I think ability to cross-share information is greatly overvalued and I suspect was requested by marketing.

        (3) 
          1. Denis Konovalov

            Yep.

            Either we do not have very bright users or the tag system is not very good.
            Because majority of new posters do not get a correct tag the first time.

            Hierarchical structures still rule.

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        1. Jelena Perfiljeva

          I do see some examples in ABAP where the question crosses to the functional area and is tagged with both ABAP and SD or MM, for example.It can be helpful but such cases are rather rare.

          On the flip side, I bet that for one question where this is used correctly and has any value there must be 100 questions that are tagged incorrectly with multiple tags. Also multiple tags can cause  confusion.

          For example, I’m looking at the list of questions in ABAP tag. But some questions might have been cross-posted from Web Dynpro or Fiori or Adobe Forms. And imagine the question is rather vague, e.g. about a “field” behavior. Because you’ve opened it through ABAP tag your first thought is, of course, it’s a general ABAP question. Then OP gets offended because it was not. (Secondary tags are barely visible as it is and they’re only on top, so if I scroll down a page to the Answer window i’m not seeing the tags.)

          Ugh, how did I get sucked into yet another tag discussion? Curse you, Denis! 🙂

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        2. Jeremy Good

          Perhaps a lesser known fact – we had tags before with Jive 🙂  Benefit with the spaces was that you basically got the primary tag for FREE.  We also had a tag cloud for easier hunting/navigation/searching.

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  6. Nicolas Posada

    HI guys!

     

    I am thrilled to see that SAP has heed our call to correct the wrongs that happened when the NEW SCN was launched: the tight community we were, was scatered and lost. SCN was our space to collaborate, a source of knowledge for all consultants, one of the best software communities I had experienced so far!

     

    I do have a doubt regarding the Google Customized Search engine: how will the SAP SCN Google Customized Search engine be affected by this new redesign to the NEW SCN (http://bit.ly/new-scn-search)? Consider that many users access the topics in the SCN from this place instead of the SCN itself.

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    1. Jamie Cantrell Post author

      Hi Nicolas,

      Thanks for your thoughts. The SAP.com and Community search tools are also undergoing reworking and improvements. Look for updates in the coming weeks. 🙂

      Jamie

      (1) 
  7. Mark Wagener

    I am glad that there will be a redesign! I like the new idea of the improved search and that there will be pages for each topic which provide an overview.

    Hopefully the whole gamification process will be simplified. Now it simply does not work 😉

    (2) 
    1. Jamie Cantrell Post author

      Hi Mark,

      We haven’t rolled out gamification in the new site yet, as we (and our reputation advisory user group) felt that it was not the appropriate time, given the other issues in the site. Look for more info soon on plans for gamification!

      Caroleigh Deneen

      Best,

      Jamie

      (2) 
  8. AMIT KUMAR

    Hi Jamie,

    If the correct answers count is only going to be displayed in the profile page then we would also get the idea of how many karma points one has anyway. In the current snapshot 12 correct answers means 120 points.

    If this is the display profile page with correct answer count then why not display the total karma points.

    Regards,

    Amit

     

    (0) 
      1. AMIT KUMAR

        Agree Steffi with your point but this is the main source of Karma. This will give the overall idea of karma points. other points on likes and votes are very minimal.

        (0) 
        1. Jelena Perfiljeva

           “other points on likes and votes are very minimal.”

          Not necessarily. If you manage to post a popular blog you could be rolling in points for years to come.

          (1) 
            1. Jelena Perfiljeva

              Sorry, I can’t visit that part of sap.com, my account is not “upgraded” enough. 🙁 If Karma points are only awarded in Q&A that would be pretty lame IMHO. Not that I care much though…

               

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              1. Caroleigh Deneen

                The reputation system that awards Karma credits is native to the Q&A platform (AnswerHub). That part of the reason we don’t display it publicly – it’s not representative since it doesn’t include blog contributions.

                The other reason it is a member/mod-only view, is to de-emphasize points. The point system created other negative side effects on the community we are trying to avoid by calculating reputation and expertise scores instead. The scores will consider both Q&A and Blog contributions, as well as the ratio of activity to quality.

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                1. Vivek Hegde

                  Hi,

                  A Quick query: When you mention ‘contribution’ ; how do you plan to segregate Quality vs Quantity debate? In some forums, the blogs are being published with comical content however the Karma credits gets increased for every such blog publish.

                  Can we have a system where the participants can rate the blogs and this factor influence the Karma credits or whatever reward system out there?

                  Thanks,

                  Vivek

                  (0) 
                  1. Caroleigh Deneen

                    Hi Vivek,

                    Yes… As you suggest, the score will be based on an algorithm that looks at not only the volume of contributions (activity), but also a combination of quality indicators about those contributions.

                    In doing so, we hope to encourage quality over quantity, and we will consider contributions in both the blogging and Q&A platform to calculate the score.

                    Thank you for your input:)

                    (1) 
                        1. Vadim Kalinin

                          Sorry, but down votes on answers are very rare in the current Community and will have minimal effect. Answers up votes and comments “likes” will result in point cheating like in Jive and will be disabled at some moment.

                          “Like” on the blog post is fine (like in the old days).

                          In general I see no differences with Jive point system – only “helpful” answer was removed 🙁

                          (1) 
                          1. Caroleigh Deneen

                            Hi Vadim, Thank you for your input, we are also very concerned about cheating.

                            The algorithms will look at a combination of factors, these are two examples only.

                            I’m sure you remember that on Jive points were awarded for content creation for blogs and documents, regardless of the quality indicators that followed from the community. The algorithm for the score considers both so we think it will be a better representation of overall quality, not just quantity of contributions.

                            It’s hard to talk about the score and algorithm in the abstract, but I know we are working towards the same goal – to keep quality on the community high and foster a healthy exchange between experts. We all want to encourage quality over activity, recognize trusted experts, and discourage and contend with cheaters.

                            We designed the scoring engine knowing the algorithm will have to evolve based on what we saw when it started calculating and any side effects it might cause when displayed. I trust you and others will continue to provide feedback that helps us make the scores representative of the behaviors we value.

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                            1. Vadim Kalinin

                              But the algorithm has to be simple enough to check it using manual calculation. If the algorithm is not clear or it’s not possible to calculate manually the same then the result will be useless to my mind!

                               

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                            2. Veselina Peykova

                              In Jive at least we had rating for blogs, in the new platform there is no option for a member to indicate in a quantifiable way the perceived quality of a blog, so I am rather skeptical that the scoring algorithm will consider blog quality (unless the team finally introduces some form of rating) – the number of views, likes and comments does not indicate content quality.

                               

                              (0) 
                              1. Caroleigh Deneen

                                Hi Veselina, Let’s see when we have a prototype to look at together. While we can’t share the full algorithm, there is more to it than that. We’ll give a preview and solicit feedback from our advisory groups, and fine-tune as needed, before anything is made public.

                                (0) 
                  2. Jelena Perfiljeva

                    SCN is not “some forums”. We now have the SCN blogging guidelines, so any blogs that do not follow them need to be simply reported to the moderators. Of course, we can (and should) use humor when writing about the SAP subjects. But if anyone starts posting random joke of the day type of content outside of Coffee Corner (which is Karma-free) – that goes to the moderators.

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    1. Caroleigh Deneen

      Is the “current snapshot” you refer to the logged in home page? It shows the number of accepted answers as well as the karma credit total. Steffi is right that the total sums the karma credits for accepted answers as well as those awarded for other quality indicators.

      We have plans to release the karma credit logs to members, so they can see all the activities that make the karma credit total go up and down. Currently, that view is only available to moderators.

      (1) 
  9. Don Williams

    Can I also suggest as a Content expert the need to sort Ascend/Descend for psot that have been answered?

    And get rid of Answer and Comment, just a reply, currently Comments can be added anywhere and on long posts it’s impossible to find the updated comment and they are not in order so not always clear what it may be referring to.

    And how do I sign up for beta testing so I can suggest enhancements as well?

    Thanks

    Don

     

    (3) 
    1. Jamie Cantrell Post author

      Hi Don,

      We are expecting to be able to filter by answered/unanswered in the new view. We also expect to have sorting within results. I assume you are referring to a sort by date. If no, please elaborate.

      Answers & comments: this is a common request and one we’re working with our UX team to solve. We will not see this removed in the first iteration, though, as it’s fundamental to the platform (AnswerHub) and will require more work and time. I do understand that the UX team has taken steps in the new design to help reduce confusion about these two functions, while not eliminating the dual response feature altogether. This was validated in the usability testing, so we’ll have to see what you think about the new approach in v1.

      Beta testing: we are finalizing the details of the beta period and will share with the wider community as soon as that is firmed up. Keep an eye out for more updates!

      Jamie

      (0) 
      1. Vadim Kalinin

        Sorry, but it was already told so many times that answer/comment feature is NOT working for SAP community. You can do whatever possible but it’s not working and will never work!

        If it’s not possible to remove answer/comment difference with AnswerHub (fundamental to the platform) then it’s better to stop other activities/improvements and start preparation to platform change. If not then all other improvements will be waste of time and will be redesigned on the new platform!

        (4) 
        1. Michael Appleby

          Hi Vadim Kalinin ,

          Just to be clear on one part of your point: “If it’s not possible to remove answer/comment difference with AnswerHub (fundamental to the platform) … “.

          It is quite possible to have only one response type or none at all (verified at the source).

          It could be Answers (Perhaps relabeled as Replies and preferred for Questions), Comments (as is the case with Coffee Corner), Answers & Comments (as we unfortunately have right now) or none at all (which could be used for Announcements)  Similar to what we had in Jive for localized announcements (Discussions unmarked as Questions were considered to be Announcements).  That last item would be rather helpful in getting rid of invalid blogs used for that purpose.

          (1) 
          1. Vadim Kalinin

            I am talking about same “Reply” as we have in Jive:

            Replace answer/comment with reply that can be:

            1. Also replied (AnswerHub “Answer” will not work in this case). To see hierarchy of replies.
            2. Accepted as correct answer by question author (AnswerHub comment will not work in this case).

            As a result none of the existing options are useful!

            P.S. “None at all” is not equivalent for Jive discussion!

            (0) 
            1. Michael Appleby

              Hi Vadim,

              Calling Answer by the label “Reply” and removing Comment from a Question allows a chronological sequence of replies instead of the jumping around from thread to thread within a single Question,  This allows you to still assign Accepted Answer to any of the posts to a question.  Not only that, it also makes it much easier to see the latest posts to a Question since they are by definition sequential by timestamp.

              Jive did not allow you to post Replies to Replies, which incidentally creates multi-threaded subsets to the Question and you are back to not being able to easily see the latest posts.  We used to use @Mentions in Jive to make sure the Reply posted targetted the correct post and/or text segments copied and pasted.

              From my perspective the only good place for Comments is in the Coffee Corner where there are no Right Answers to be selected.

              The None at All (neither Answer or Comment) can be used with a presently unused third type of post available from AH.  I have proposed using a third type of AH posting solely for announcements and make it completely invalid to post blogs as Announcements any longer.

              Hope all this was clearly understood.  If not, perhaps we can have a call.  I am also quite happy to set up a call with DZone (parent company of AH).

              Cheers, Mike

               

              (0) 
              1. Vadim Kalinin

                Hi Mike,

                To my mind without hierarchy of replies we are coming back to 90x with only chronological forums. Chronological sequence can be an option (like in Jive) but hierarchy view is also valuable. In case of multiple answers only reply on reply will keep the logical structure of discussion:

                Q: How to …

                ..R: Use option A

                ….R: What else?

                ……R: And configure C

                ..R: Use option B

                ….R: This option is not available in my system

                “Jive did not allow you to post Replies to Replies” – ??? May be allowed?

                 

                (1) 
                1. Jürgen L

                  In Jive it was certainly possible to reply to another reply, and the user had the option to from the user settings whether to display it hierarchical or flat..

                  (4) 
                  1. Michael Appleby

                    Hi Juergen,

                    I guess I never used that option.  Was that available in Track in Communications or only in Discussions?  I only used TiC for keeping up with monitoring content and it was, to the best of my memory, and it has been a long time now, always sequential in chronological order.

                    Having the choice would be a fine thing indeed.

                    Thanks, Mike

                     

                    (0) 
                    1. Jürgen L

                      In the left window of communications you had just 1 entry per question with a number telling you how many replies have been made since you look at it the last time.

                      Im certain that in the detail of the question you had the alternative between threaded and flat view. I can’t remember if that was also valid for the right window in the communications stream, probably yes, I had my setting to flat since I did not like to read Japanese style from top to bottom  with 1 character in a column.

                      As this happened with longer discussions, as a moderator you can see a screenshot in this old discussion: https://jam4.sapjam.com/wiki/show/4w0qzrTpVcUP1RYLLpwRvn

                      (0) 
                  2. Jelena Perfiljeva

                    That’s the part I liked about the old Jive platform – you could actually customize the view and choose either hierarchy or flat structure. It’s surprising how little this platform offers in terms of customizing to the user preferences. One would think this would be all the rage these days…

                     

                    (2) 
      2. Michael Appleby

        Sorry Former Member , but I don’t recall any portion of the prototype testing which validated having two response types.  In fact I remember being told that they were really not going address most of the complaints about format of Questions/Discussions, Activities or Notifications.

        Can you back up your statement?  Or show us how you came to this conclusion?  And not just show us that the UX & Strategy decided to come to that conclusion.

         

        (0) 
        1. Jamie Cantrell Post author

          Hi Mike,

          Thanks for participating in this thread. As one of the people who participated in the testing, it’s important to have your perspective. This item was one of the readouts specific to this subject (answers/replies) from the usability testing, which took into account experiences and feedback from a variety of types of community users (expert, casual, etc.), rather than something I or anyone from UX is pulling out of a hat. That said, it doesn’t necessarily mean what we’ll get in v1 to reduce confusion around the answers/comments issue is the right or best option — simply that this is v1 of the total redesign and I’ve acknowledged that it won’t be replaced in this version. Does it mean it won’t be replaced? No, not necessarily. But it’s not being replaced in this first version.

          Best,

          Jamie

          (0) 
          1. Veselina Peykova

            I do not recall being asked specifically what I think about comments vs answers as well (although I think that I mentioned during the session that the lack of redesign of question detail is disappointing).

            If the topic was discussed only with a specific group of users who participated in testing then the result is not representative. If the question was asked only to a subset of the participants it will be interesting also to analyze how the people who provided feedback use the Q&A part of the site. As a consultant I have encountered more than once the situation where the business realizes that a requested feature is a terrible idea only when they try using it in real scenarios. 🙂

            (3) 
      3. Don Williams

        Thanks Jamie,

        Biggest is the Ascending/Descending sort so the oldest reply is the first one in the list…

        Sign me up for the Beta testing, use my internal e-mail for notification.

        Don

         

        (1) 
  10. Former Member

    Looks really good, would agree with some others and say seems there is still too much going on and could be stripped back to bare bones. I think for ‘Browse Topics’, the ‘All Topics’ section should clearly be displayed as a consolidation of the other six icons, if that’s what it is. I think when you look at websites like stack overflow and even craiglist which have really simple almost dull interfaces but were never innovated because simple to use and serve a singular purpose which is what community needs to be again in my opinion.

     

     

    (1) 
  11. Johan Hakkesteegt

    As our blogalicious blogophiles are really only concerned with the sharing, finding, and commenting on blogs, and don’t give two hoots about Q&A (which is the basis of the original SDN community), who cares when this redesign goes live? Well okay, they do…

    You may have noticed, that all features that were asked for, and critical feedback that was given, by people using the Q&A section of the SCN, has systematically been deprioritized. Multiple examples of SAP’s disinterest in Q&A can be found even in comments to this blog:

    Jamie Cantrell: “…Keep in mind that the redesign will also be iterative, in the sense that what you see here is not the end of development…

    Caroleigh Deneen: “The reputation system that awards Karma credits is native to the Q&A platform (AnswerHub). That part of the reason we don’t display it publicly – it’s not representative since it doesn’t include blog contributions

    Moshe Naveh: “Unfortunately the review of answers vs. comments concept weren’t included in this phase of the UX work and will be looked at later on.

    Jamie Cantrell: “…Does it mean it won’t be replaced? No, not necessarily. But it’s not being replaced in this first version…

    Jamie Cantrell: “We will not see this removed in the first iteration, though, as it’s fundamental to the platform (AnswerHub) and will require more work and time.

    Jamie Cantrell: “That said, it doesn’t necessarily mean what we’ll get in v1 to reduce confusion around the answers/comments issue is the right or best option

    The we’re-getting-to-it method is a time-honored deflection method, that infers hope, and allows you to forget about it.

    Yes, sir, we asked him about that, sir, but he said no, it wasn’t. He said it provided—’ his forehead wrinkled ‘—occ-you-pay-shun-all ther-rap-py, healthy exercise, prevented moping and offered that greatest of all treasures which is Hope, sir.

    – Sir Terence David John Pratchett, Going Postal –

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