With the launch on November 9th of Jive's new JiveWorks community, I'd like to tell more of the story behind the project. Many of you are in similar situations: you came in to manage a community that you didn't have a hand in building, and maybe you've realized that the structure or organization of your community is no longer serving your members.

 

I've heard many of you ask, "how do you evolve a community?" More specifically, maybe you've received complaints that your community is hard to navigate, users don't know their way around, or content isn't where they expect it to be. If you've got a community more than a few years old, you could be facing the same situation we had here in this community: tons of places, no clear structure for user pathways, and confusing navigation.

 

With the launch of JiveWorks (our new 'Jive Community') we can tell you first-hand how to go about evolving your own community. In this blog, we'll focus on three related topics:

  • Use cases
  • User pathways
  • Navigation tips and tricks

 

Get clear on your use cases.

For our community, we have several use cases which we've been clear about for years but maybe didn't have enough rigor around managing the process or organizing the structure. They are as follows:

  • Support - how we provide our customers and users with product support: implementation for their own communities, help with troubleshooting, and assistance in bug resolution.
  • Learning - how customers and users find out how to do things, get training, share best practices and thought leadership from Jive and our top customers.
  • Product feedback/ideas - how customers submit product feedback, get responses and hear about implementation plans from Jive.
  • Product communications - how Jive communicates product updates, pre- and post release information about our products, and deep dives for features and integrations.
  • Event engagement - how we bring our live events to our online members, engaging them in content, pre- and post event discussions, and deepen the event experience.

Your use cases are the most important thing to be clear about in your own communities. Be sure to do the work with your own teams and bring in a strategist if needed (we worked with our own Jennifer Kelley) to help you work through them.

 

Understand the user pathways.

About three months ago, we brought together a working team to talk about our use cases and what we believed users come to this community to accomplish. The team was made up of the use case owners as well as key stakeholders in different departments. We didn't start with the focus on navigation, but instead approached the exercise purely from the member's point of view of what they need to get done in our community. We came up with member-focused statements like:

  • I need to learn how to use the Jive platform
  • I need to find out how to set up my community
  • I need specific help with product functionality
  • I need to find out how other community managers are doing things
  • I need to find out about the upcoming events
  • I need to view the latest webinar

 

We ended up with a fairly long list of these statements and then put them into some logical groupings... Items about learning were all grouped together, same with event topics. Topics about product and support were so similar, we put those in the same bucket. We then came up with user-centered statements about the pathways that felt inclusive of all of the types of things that could happen in that category.

 

In the end, we had a very rough sketch of what people come to the community to accomplish (a.k.a. the user pathways):

At this step, we were getting closer to understanding how these purposeful user pathways could shape the navigation scheme.

 

Develop navigation to key places.

One of the things we evaluated was the key places to which we want to drive members. As a 16-year-old community, we have an excessive number of places to visit and they often mapped more to our internal departments than to a logical space hierarchy. Additionally, we want to focus user activity in some places that are core to our community use cases. We considered our use cases and the key places related to them, then mapped the key places to the user pathways.

 

This gave us a start on our navigation menus (which we sketched out in PowerPoint):

 

Once we had this straw model, we realized that many of the places needed some clean up or new places needed to be created (such as our Events hub). It's important to do this work for your own key places before you rework your navigation so that community member experience is maintained as they move through your site. We recommend reviewing this work with a few of your super-users to make sure that you are hitting the mark.

 

When you are ready for implementation, the navigation menus can be updated through the theme (for those who have admin privileges). You can see more about the before and after navigational impacts here: JiveWorks Navigation: Getting Around to Key Places

 

This is a very simplified explanation of the process we followed, in fact, the whole project took several months to complete and the work of about 12-15 different people. I also haven't yet addressed the design/theme changes you see in JiveWorks today. That will have to be the focus of my next blog!

 

I would love to hear whether or not you like the new navigation. Your experience here is first hand! Also, be sure to post any questions you have about these recommendations. If you run into any problems about the community, you can also post a question in Community Help.