Laying deep within the Global Settings panel of your community is a checkbox that can dramatically change how your users interact with your community and your content. This is the Personal Dashboard function, which unlocks a Page that's accessible to all members of the community through their userbar.
The Configure Dashboard button will open the Dashboard interface, which acts like a Page. You can place widgets on it and customize them to fit exactly what you need, and those widgets will be visible to every person in the community who selects the Dashboard option from their user dropdown. You can create a link to the community Dashboard by linking to yourcommunityaddresshere/my.dashboard. Learn more about Dashboards in the Knowledge Base.
The obvious use of the Dashboard is to give your users an immediate and useful view of the community that doesn't take up space on your Home Page. It might show them internal discussions through the Forum Topics widget, provide a Search Box to search specific areas of the community, or display announcements with a Blog Articles widget. This lets you reserve Home Page real estate for things that matter to everyone, and let users drill deeper into the community from the Dashboard.
The Dashboard can do a lot more than save space, however. it can deliver up to date content that's specific to the user viewing it, so each user accessing the community Dashboard only receives content that's immediately relevant to them, no matter who they are. Elements like the Recent Activity widget can be configured to only display content a user follows, and because all information in widgets is governed by the community's access rules, a widget can pull content from every area of the community and provide a customized view based on each user's permissions.
There are a lot of different ways to use the Community Dashboard to effectively deliver content to users. Here are some of the best that have been set up or seen in existing communities.
- A "Calendar Events" widget with all Calendar Channels as a source but limited to content the user follows provides up to date information on upcoming meetings and events that matter to them.
- A "My Spaces" widget can give the user easy access to all the Spaces they're a part of, which is especially useful for managers and team leads who may have Read access to a lot of Spaces, but only manage projects in a few.
- A Poll widget will survey users to find out their opinions and needs, and tucks unobtrusively into the corner of the Dashboard.
- The "Tasks" widget is a great asset for Dashboards, and can show users the tasks assigned to them, the tasks they've assigned, or even their personal to dos that they've created themselves.
- A "Recent Comments" widget can keep users current on discussions happening in any Space or area of the community they have access to.
If a user doesn't have access to anything that would be displayed in a widget, that widget will still display, but will be empty. It can also be an issue to create a Community Dashboard that's too specific, with Folder Contents widgets for specific areas of the community, or feeds from only a few places. Customizing it with all users in mind will help create the best adoption, and there are other ways to gain personal windows into content.
Those are some of our best practices and strategies for creating Dashboards. What are yours? Share them below in the comments.
Learn more about the Igloo platform in our Knowledge Base.