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Less is More

Posted by rossc Aug 8, 2013

We've been debating the Jive interface a lot recently, and I wanted to share this perspective.


Use Cases are great, but also risky. It's fairly easy to pick up a specific use case, dig in to their business needs, and come up with a strategy that says "Ideas could help with XYZ" or "Turning on Projects will allow them to accomplish 123". Where that fails is in the broader deployment of the platform, as those one-offs are then automatically included as "noise" that all other users have to wade through. Yes - these things can be mitigated to a degree by excluding them from specific Spaces or Groups or Templates - but when folks come up to the front of our "house", we prefer that we have one front door instead of 5+ for them to scratch their head & choose from.

The primary point of pain we have had in 2-ish years with Jive is the complexity. Users eyes can get crossed trying to figure out how to have a simple conversation! If I want to have a dialog about something, why should I have to decide whether to "Upload a file" or "Create a Document", and what the difference is between those? If the conversation includes a new idea in reference to a video, do I start by clicking "Create video", "Discussion" or "Status Update", "Idea" or something else? The list goes on and on... and has HUGE impact to our one true measure of success:  engagement. These barriers to end users in starting a conversation can't be overstated. They also drive enhanced need for training and on boarding efforts, significantly greater pressure on highly skilled and prevalent Community Management, and ongoing support & administration needs (all band-aids to try to stop the bleeding).

For an organization with 300,000 employees, we are forced to take a significantly more proactive approach and deliver a streamlined, clean, clutter free user experience that is as user friendly as possible. Leveraging basic design from prevalent systems like Facebook is also a viable strategy, as most users are already familiar with how things work. Facebook - as an example - quit doing Status Updates quite a while ago, and their Discussions don't force users to also stop and decide what text to input as a title for their conversation. Status Updates in Jive are rarely used to update status...  instead, users treat them like a simplified Discussion. We see things like "Who else is going to see Man of Steel this weekend?" posted as a status update, and it's still there 3 months later....  meaningless and irrelevant and yet another source of "noise". I see Status Updates that are over a year old...

Clearly, I could go on and on. Bottom line is this: we need to leverage our expertise and understanding of our company in conjunction with our expertise and understanding of what feature functionality does and does NOT make sense for the broadest possible audience. We want people to have little to no barriers or hurdles to jump before engaging in conversations. Videos, Documents, Uploaded Files, Ideas, Projects, Events etc. are all just conversations - and ideally would be accomodated by the tool bar in a Discussion (as most are now) and not be served up as separate entry points to having that conversation.


What tips, tricks, or opinions can you share about this perspective?

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