Hello TrueSight Network Automation community! My name is Seth Paskin and in my role directing Technical Marketing I'm working to make BMC Communities more effective and enjoyable for you. This post describes some changes I've made to the layout of the Network Automation space overview page and tells you what you see and can expect. Communities is a living thing: I am putting this out for you to comment and share whether you like the new layout, have things you'd like changed or want to add.
The goal is to get you the most relevant content in the most easy to consume format. Please comment below and I will respond and implement updates as appropriate.
1. The Quick Link Bar
By default, when you enter a community product space you land on the "Overview" page. Changes to that page are outlined in the next two sections. At the top of the page in the red header are a series of links to other Communities content related to this particular product. I would like to highlight the three links that I think have the most relevance for the majority of community members.
- Knowledge - The Knowledge section links to a page with knowledge articles (KA) which have been created as documents in Communities. It does not link directly to docs.bmc.com or support.bmc.com. When content is created for those sites relevant to this product, it is 'mirrored' as a document in Communities. It has not been done for all historical articles. So what you see at this link is selective subset of all KA content.
- Product Blog - This is a blog specific to the product space. Blog posts can be contributed by any Community member but for the most part are written by BMC R&D, Product Management, Technical Marketing and Pre-sales. Blog posts may announce GA of a new product version, provide a tip or trick, alert you to a product advisory, suggest a use case or numerous other topics.
- Ideas - This section is for user contributed product improvement suggestions, enhancements, etc. Anyone in the community can submit and vote on ideas. If an idea gets enough "up" votes, it will pass the review threshold and Product Management will be alerted. If approved, the idea may be added to the roadmap or backlog.
The Body Column (on the left)
2. The Quick question box
I'm not a fan of this widget - it takes up a lot of space and has limited utility but I've left it for the time being. In principle, it allows any user to quickly post a question to the rest of the community. The alternative is to start a Discussion (which default to a "Question") from your "Create" menu, e.g.
The virtue of using a Discussion is that you get to title your question, use the full editor including adding images/videos and tags. The quick question bar doesn't allow any of those things and I believe it encourages folks to drop 'question bombs' without taking the time to detail . Consider it to be 'on probation'.
3. Recent Activity
This lists the most recent content created in the community regardless of type. Content can be a Discussion, Question, Document, Blog Post, Poll, Event or Idea. Previously this widget would list the most recent 25 items; I've changed it to 5 or 10 depending on the membership and level of activity in the community. If you want to see a longer list, simply click the "All Activity in..." link after the last item.
Its priority location is based on the concept that this content will be the most topical and relevant to the majority of community members. I think that probably depends on the community and I'm open to feedback from folks on whether they value recent, popular or other content at the top of their feed. NOTE: this widget loads dynamically, so depending on your browser/internet connection, it may look empty when you first open the page. Give it a second and you should see three blinking dots that let you know the content is coming.
4. Popular Content
This lists the content in the community with greatest amount of engagement - views, comments, likes, helpful votes - regardless of age. The algorithm takes into account 'freshness' so if things are slow, you'll see duplicative content from the recent activity widget above it. In the larger and more active communities this happens less frequently. Again, the assumption is that content popular with some of the community will be popular with all of the community so it makes sense to surface it. Also the reason to cut down on the number of items in the recent activity widget. (I can't adjust the number of popular items from 10)
The Sidebar (on the right)
5. Link to Orientation Checklist
So exciting for me! We only had customer orientation/on-boarding checklists for a couple of communities previously. We now have them for almost all of the product communities and they represent my next big renovation project. (more on that in another post ) I encourage you to visit the checklist and let me know what you think about the content, format, etc. Priority placement here in the upper right is intended to make finding the guide easy for new customers or users who are new to the solutions.
6. Latest Version
OK, so a simple thing that has been missing from Communities is just a 'state of' for each solution. It just seemed like a miss to me that when you come to a product community there wasn't a clear and easy way to know what the latest version is with an easy path to documentation and resources. So I created this simple widget that has the version of the latest release with links to release notes, support resources and the assisted migration program/top KA articles (if available). Anyone can quickly see the most recent release with notes, link to all of our support resources and if needing to migrate from an earlier version, get information about how BMC can help. NOTE: Support Central is the one link every member/user should have. It is a portal to documentation, downloads, videos, KAs, training and more. Thus it gets featured here. I might even pull it out and make it top level but for now it fits with the latest release.
7. Upcoming Events
This is a dynamically updated widget that shows any upcoming Communities events. As I mentioned above, one of the types of Communities content is "Event". When you create an event in Communities, it requires you to select a place (i.e. a product community). When you do that and publish the event, it will show up here. Typically community members won't create events but we BMCer's do. For example, I've been running a best practices webinar for about a year now and I use Communities to host the event invite and promote it to members. I'm hoping to increase the number of events specific to solutions and want to make sure community members are aware of them.
8. Answered Questions
Another (and the last) dynamically updated widget. Lists the most recent questions marked as "answered". It has a fixed number of items (10). Along the same lines of Recent Activity and Popular Content, concept is that if one member has a question, more might have the same question so it makes sense to surface it on this overview page. I put it on the sidebar because it will show above the fold whereas if I added it to the Body it would disappear below the fold. NOTE: I have the option of adding an 'Unanswered Questions' widget as well, would welcome your feedback on that.
People use BMC Communities for lots of things and I had to make some assumptions for this first phase about what those things are to clean up the format and content. I'm assuming that folks want to ask questions, see if others have the similar issues, see what other members are asking and doing and connect with peers. I hope the changes I've made facilitate that and if need to make changes or can improve, that you'll tell me that and how.