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Tag Driven Information Architecture using MOSS
 

Tag Driven Information Architecture using MOSS

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This session covered ways in which to utilise the tagging features of MOSS to create an attractive and easy-to-use intranet portal. The presentation was delivered to Melbourne MOSSIG on the 27th of ...

This session covered ways in which to utilise the tagging features of MOSS to create an attractive and easy-to-use intranet portal. The presentation was delivered to Melbourne MOSSIG on the 27th of August 2008.

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  • Today I’ll be talking about a project I did for my previous employer – Provoke in NZ, and the NZ ministry of transport intranet. I was the technical lead on the project so I’ve based some of the slides off my team-mate Zef who was the Design lead for the site, and will cover aspects of both the design and implementation using MOSS.
  • The NZ ministry of transport workers are information workers – they focus on creating policies and reports for the NZ government, so finding and managing documents and other sources of information is crucial to their business.Before the intranet there were a variety of information stores, including lotus notes, network drives, or users emails so they wanted a central repository that would improve the flow of information around the organisation. Staff satisfaction was also a priority for the ministry so they wanted an intranet that was engaging and enjoyable to use.
  • So here is discover the mot intranet. We will go over this in more detail later but some of the key features include alerts, announcement, notices and surveys that anyone can contribute to, links to most popular content, and the ‘daily discovery’ area that includes different interesting facts each day
  • Some notable milestones and achievements include the first release on MOSS Beta 2TR – so still in the dark ages where much functionality was largely undocumented. Based on feedback and observations a second phase was completed, which included a large overhaul of the UI.Since going live the intranet attracted a lot of attention, notably winning the MS NZ partner solution of the year and business productivity solution of the year, and was named in the Nielsen Norman Group’s – headed by usability expert Jakob Neilson – top 10 intranets of 2008
  • So without further ado I’ll go through how we created this winning intranet. The first part of the process involved working with the stakeholders within the ministry to define the goals for the site. Once these had been defined the design team conducted user research to understand the people that would be using the site. One of the tools used for this was ‘personas’ or personal descriptions of the user. The next task was to define the IA, a process that was based on the users and the information they were dealing with. Once this was in place further analysis was done to ensure the system worked. This involved observational user testing, which then fed back into the process. Two major iterations were done before the site was released as a production system, but the tag-driven system we’ve created allows flexibility for future iterations.
  • One goal was to improve information flow to improve communication and collaboration The ministry also found users were spending a long time searching for information, and in some cases would end up duplicating content because the original could not be foundStaff satisfaction was a key goal for the ministry so they wanted the intranet to reflect organisations goals of creating an attractive place to workReduce Email - Lots of email clutter – ‘all staff’ emails – wanted a improved means of distributing urgent and non-urgent communications
  • A persona is a fictional character constructed to represent the needs of a whole range of real users. Personas help ensure that you keep the users in mind during the design process.Using personas (customer profiles) is a great way to keep the focus on the user and their goals. If you're on a project which utilises personas then encourage everyone involved to read and discuss these - it should help the design team create an affinity with the types of people the site is intended for.
  • Once we had the personas created we needed to create an information architecture that was meaningful to them.Who here uses Sainsbury’s online or one of the other online shopping retailers to have groceries delivered?
  • An example of how this as it applies to an intranet is a leave form. Mark from desktop support thinks of holidays, while HR thinks of the HR022 form, even though they are after the same thing.
  • To allow users to navigate using pathways that are meaningful to them, the MoT intranet has a variety of pathways to information. They can search by the type of content, the mode of transport, the topic, the origin or the business unit.
  • Additional metadata includes audience, title, name, date, author or document type, to further narrow down the number of results returned
  • One example of how this works – when searching for a leave form some users might navigate to this through the ‘form’ content type, others through the ‘leave’ topic, r the HR business unit. The leave form can appear in the results for each of these categories, not just one.
  • To apply this concept using MOSS we first need to define the metadata schema, or site columns. This is
  • Attributes by content type
  • Once we’ve created the columns and content types when a user checks in an item of content they have the ability to tag the item while this requires a minute of upfront time when uploading and tagging new content, we believe the benefits come later by greatly enhancing the findability of content.
  • We also created a series of page layouts (one for each content type) so that if users created a page within the site they would be able to tag the content when editing the page
  • Findability was a major focus for the intranet. All content entered into the site is tagged with metadata which is then used to display content in a variety of ways. This also allows the display of; tag lists, contextual navigation, links to related content, enhanced search results, and provide summary views of relevant content from various areas of the site.Some examples of how this works are:The homepage for the “Tools and Resources” section of the site that contains a tag-list of all the company-wide documents and articless. Now if I want to find the leave form I can select the ‘Human Resources’ business unit -
  • Selecting the “Human Resources” business unit shows all content tagged with “Human Resources” value for the “Business Unit” attribute, and I can see instructions on how to apply for leave.
  • Users can then sort and filter the results to further refine the results. Note that the navigation is also driven by the tags that relate to content within the site.
  • Pages within the site also display clickable tags, helping users navigate to similarly tagged information. To implement this functionality we built a custom control using ASP.NET and placed this on the page layout.
  • SearchMOSS Search was configured and customised to use the metadata defined within the site to enrich the search experience. By defining several search scopes users can search over the intranet, the MoT public website, internal people, external contacts (exposed via a BDC connection), or over all sources at once. Search has been configured to allow searches for particular metadata attributes such as “Find all items where the ‘Topic’ tag has a value of ‘Administration’” (via the use of Managed Properties). The results web part has also been customised to display relevant metadata tags so that related searches can be performed. This was done by modifying the XSLT for the relevant web part.Below: A search for “public holidays” brings back items tagged with ‘Projects’, ‘Technology’, ‘Ministry of Transport’ and ‘Communication’. Clicking on these tags in the result set will execute a search that returns similarly tagged items.
  • To meet MoT’s goals around creating a functional and attractive communal space that would be used for staff interaction, a combination of out-of-the-box MOSS features and custom components were used. Some of the site elements that reflect these design considerations are the homepage, personal sites (My Sites) for each user, and a news section where all users are able to add alerts, announcements and classifieds
  • The homepage for the site is vibrant and dynamic. Data View Web Parts pull in content from other sections of the site, while areas such as the ‘daily discovery’ and ‘links’ are easily editable by content authors to ensure content is frequently changing. The homepage also contains a survey poll, delivered via Microsoft SilverLight to provide a richer user experience than the out-of-the-box MOSS survey tool. When the user submits their answer to the poll the results are displayed in an animated window that allows user interaction.The survey results window
  • Demo -
  • Alerts and AnnouncementsThrough the ‘News’ section of the site staff can create alerts, announcements, classifieds and events. As well as being displayed on the intranet homepage, important alerts are also shown as pop-up messages through an application that uses the appropriate RSS feed provided by MOSS. This has resulted in a reduction in emails sent to all staff.
  • SummaryUsing Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, Provoke was able to help MoT achieve their goals for the intranet. The combination of features that encourage staff interaction with the site, and easy access to important information has meant that the intranet is a huge success. “We’ve had overwhelmingly positive feedback from staff and higher uptake of the intranet,” says the intranet administrator. “My observations show that staff are exploring the new design and features—and as a result discovering information they initially missed.”
  • SummaryUsing Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, Provoke was able to help MoT achieve their goals for the intranet. The combination of features that encourage staff interaction with the site, and easy access to important information has meant that the intranet is a huge success. “We’ve had overwhelmingly positive feedback from staff and higher uptake of the intranet,” says the intranet administrator. “My observations show that staff are exploring the new design and features—and as a result discovering information they initially missed.”
  • One of the things we took out of the project was the benefit in having people who understood the technology – in the initial phase several custom components were built when the same experience could have been delivered using OOTB functionality.Another thing we felt helped contribute to the success of the project was the fact that we communicated with the users regularly. At some stages in the project we had weekly demos – this allowed us to get valuable feedback on things that could be corrected early on, saving re-work laterLastly one of the biggest things we discovered was that you need to have a careful plan on how to move MOSS development from one environment to another. MOSS’ feature framework only allows so much, so you need to be careful where the source of content is stored.

Tag Driven Information Architecture using MOSS Tag Driven Information Architecture using MOSS Presentation Transcript

  • Tag Driven Information Architecture using SharePoint 2007
    Case Study: NZ Ministry of Transport
    Ari Bakker
  • Overview
    The New Zealand Ministry of Transport (MoT) is a government agency responsible for creating transport related papers and reports for the NZ government
    They wanted an intranet that would improve the flow of information around the organisation, as well as being engaging and enjoyable to use.
  • Achievements
    Initial phase built in 2006 on MOSS Beta 2
    Second phase completed in May 2007
    Won Microsoft New Zealand’s Partner Solution of the Year, and Business Productivity Solution of the Year awards in 2007
    Named in Nielsen Norman Group’s “Top 10 Intranets of 2008”
  • How we created a winning User Experience
  • Goals
    Improve information flow throughout the organization
    Improve information findability to reduce staff time spent looking for information
    Improve access to business-critical information
    Support and strengthen the MoTculture and improve staff morale and job satisfaction by having the intranet be a channel for staff interaction
    Reduce the amount of email communication between staff by creating a functional and attractive communal space
  • Understand your users
    Personas
    Task flows
    Field research
  • Making information “findable”
  • Pathways to information
  • Pathways to information
  • Metadata magic
  • Metadata magic
  • Metadata magic
  • Metadata Schema – Tags (Columns)
  • Metadata Schema – Content Types
  • Page based tagging
  • Demo
    How metadata makes things findable
  • Engaging the user
  • Engaging the user
  • Survey results
  • Desktop based alerts
  • Outcomes
    “Observations show that staff are exploring the new design and features—and as a result discovering information they initially missed.”
    “The redesign results go beyond just general satisfaction—they’re having a positive effect on staff productivity as well.” - Hamish Denston – Intranet Content Manager
  • Outcomes
    Prior to the intranet, employees communicated to all staff or to a group of staff members using email.
    The email volume was significant, as was the demand on staff time in dealing with it. These emails have been replaced with the intranet’s Alerts and Announcements features, and the notifications are now unobtrusive.
    “This helped to reduce the stress on staff of having a build-up of emails—that may or may not be relevant—cluttering their in-boxes.”
  • Lessons Learnt
    Know your CMS – get people who understand the technology involved in the design process
    Communicate with your users regularly—before, during, and after the project phase
    Have a plan for deployment – initially and for fixes and future phases
  • Thank you
    Blog: ari.provoke.co.nz
    Mail: ari.bakker@gmail.com
    Zef (Design): zefamedia.co.nz