Monday, 12 May 2008

Developing Successful Communities Online - Part 2 - Information Sharing

Information Sharing Features of successful Community Sites

  • Search Functionality

    • Mandatory metadata for user-inputted content - based on an initial logical classification. This is key to enabling effective results.

    • Personal tags / Keywords associated with user inputted content - very useful for enabling results specific to the community using the site

    • Free text search

    • Return a summary definition (using a glossary function) for recognised search terms, along with links to related non-user-generated content

    • Output result sets for both Documents and People who have posted content related to the search term

    • Categorise results by document/content types

    • Enable filtering by profile settings (eg. selected literacy level)

    • Provide a flexible Quick Search

    • Provide a fully customisable Advanced Search

    • Audit search results and feed back into content improvement cycle – for example, use workflow to alert search terms that repeatedly return nil results and input or tag content related to that term, so the information effectively restructures to fit local language as the site develops

  • Logical navigation hierarchy organised by knowledge area, scenario or role

  • Links to the different information types – blogs, webcasts, lists, discussions, summaries, wikis

  • Links to non-user generated content

  • Searchable FAQ lists

  • Comprehensive section on how to use the site, and what all the web 2.0 features can do for the user. The web and collaboration is evolving much faster than most people can keep up, so it is important to ensure that users can learn about the features available to them.

  • Set up tips as wikis so that they can continue to evolve, rather than duplicate each time someone improves the content. Also encourage users to transfer content from blogs to wikis, as wikis are more searchable and specific.

  • Design support for both logical users and free browsers

  • Site Map – very important for logical browsers i.e. Those that prefer to use navigation links (probably still a majority) rather than search or free browsing functions.

  • When providing blogging options, enforce input structures for the content so that users have to tag their content to help improve searchability

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