The below blog is something i've written and shared with my own community today. Since moving to the Cloud we've realised that we are often now learning at the same pace as our community, this is very different to my previous 5 years where we'd hear about an upgrade and have a year to get our head around it, watch early adopters figure stuff out before we'd then take the plunge. We've decided to have complete transparency with our community and be open about when we don't have the answers. Our community is feeling frustrated, we over hyped the Activity + Pages and over sold how well they would work. The pages are great but what you can do on the pages isn't as flexible.
I'd love to hear from others about their experiences of transitioning your communities away from Overview pages. I also want to start a debate with Jive about how long the overview pages have left so we can give our community a better timeline to work from.
I’ve made no secret of how excited I was about the new Pages + Tiles option when we upgraded in August, similarly I was excited to see a few additional tiles in the October update. Personally I love the ability to present the content within a place in a number of different ways using the pages for example tweaking each page to a different audience type. We’ve already seen that this offers the opportunity to merge places and reduce the number of communities people have to follow. Activity + Pages also offers responsive design allowing the content to adjust to the screen size, whether that is because it is really big or you are using a tablet or smartphone. And most importantly the tiles offer a more consistent user experience for those people who access Neo with accessibility needs.
We’ve shared with you that the Neo team will stop supporting overview pages in April 2016, this is because we genuinely don’t know when Jive will end of life overview pages and we want to make sure we are preparing you for the inevitable. April seems like a logical time, there will have been at least two quarterly updates by then and we expect these updates will include more tiles and more features we can all use.
Now you know the current lay of the land for Neo I wanted to share my own personal experience of migrating a group from an overview to activity + pages. The group i’ve been working on is a team group for the global corporate affairs community. The group is made up of members from across the globe who report into Kate James. We use the group to share important information about our function, news and updates, sharing and collaborating. We’ve used a combination of the main group overview page and a series of projects for specific activity (for example an off site earlier this year) we use a variety of widgets to signpost people to the content within the group.
Start by familiarising yourself with Activity + Pages Conversion Toolkit. I opened up the Activity + Pages Conversion Tools and downloaded the planning spreadsheet. I mapped out the widgets and started to think about how some of these widgets would look as tiles. I also needed to map some of the projects we had to potential pages.
Some of it was really easy, the content tile has allowed me to surface content that was posted a long time ago but is still relevant into a mini induction into how Corporate Affairs is made up and our goals. Any group with helpful content for new starters can select content, put it into chapters and order it the way you’d like people to read through it - awesome! The page looks less cluttered and cleaner and we are able to highlight recurring important updates like our global call and a regular podcast we share.
But there have been some challenges and in the spirit of us all working through the transition together I wanted to be honest.
It is important to think about creating pages that are big enough in scope to make sure they’re worth having, for example we have a book club project but it is fairly new and so there wasn’t a lot of content, we could widen the page topic to Learning and Development and have a lot more to share on the page. More content makes the page more inviting, less makes it look like it isn’t finished.
When selecting a layout, you kind of have to be wedded to making that design work as tiles do not automatically move around the page like overview widgets do. If you choose a different layout the tiles you’ve configured will be lost. It is always important to have all your information ready before you start to populate tiles this includes making sure all your images are the same size, you have the blurb, headlines or links. If you’re adding a lot of images this takes time and if you change your mind you can’t save your work.
As mentioned above you can’t save it, so it is a good use of your time to build out a content set tile, especially for important information, note it can’t be repeated on multiple pages without being built from scratch.
The widget I miss the most is the recent content widget, this widget is by far the most flexible list widget. By repeating the widget you can pull in content from multiple locations or manipulate it to show blogs and polls or just polls and you can choose how many items to show. The superlist just doesn’t give you this level of flexibility and to make things worse the tile is buggy and isn’t pulling in content on some of the feeds (We’ve raised this with Jive and are hoping to get a fix in the next update). When it is pulling content you can’t manipulate how many items you see. The recent blog post tile is not as good as its widget counterpart, you can’t choose the type of view you can see. I liked having the option to show the full blog post, part of it or just the headline. I also liked being able to choose how many I could see and I also liked being able to pull in a different blogs.
What is missing?
The HTML tile on its way, we are evaluating how it works compared to the HTML widget and need to consider the impact of using this to accessibility. View a document is a good catch all for most things but I think the formatted text widget is also sorely missed.
This blog post serves two purposes i’ve given you our community managers a bit of an insight into how we feel about the transition to Activity + Pages and I will also post this in the Jive community to push forward the reasons we need more tile development and to get a more concrete timeline for overview pages from Jive.
We would love to hear what you think of Activity + Pages and your experiences so far.