February 6, 2019
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It's easy to say that the structure of your digital workplace is essential, but when building out a new Igloo, it has to be the first priority. A site with a structure that's sensible and easily read can drive engagement, while an Igloo in disarray can be confusing for members at best, and prevent them from using key workflows at worst.
A digital workplace that's intuitive to use contributes to a culture of use, and equips people with the tools they need to do their jobs. It makes it easy to onboard new people, and reduces friction for people who use it daily. Having organized areas for teams, knowledge, processes and projects gives people the opportunity to become experts in their own areas without having to be strangers to the rest of your Igloo.
The shape of your digital workplace is defined in your Site Manager, and contributes to the overall usability of your site. A good goal is to have a digital workplace that's streamlined enough that a member who only uses one area can still find things in other places when they need to, and can do it without searching. Search can handle a lot of requests, but your members' expertise and your Igloo's structure are going to shine when, given incomplete or incorrect information, people are still able to find what they need.
Create a sound structure by grouping similar navigation items together. If all of your projects are adjacent to each other in the site structure, I can find a new or archived project without ever having been there before. Similarly with team rooms, administration areas, and knowledge bases. Grouping these in the navigation creates direct paths to each item, and means that members can be sure they'll find what they need when they dig deeper, or that they can use the breadcrumbs to move to upper levels in the navigation without losing track of where they are.
The value of consistent naming conventions cannot be underestimated. There's a temptation to name every Blog Channel "Blog" and trust that everyone knows where it is, until a year from launch when you're sifting through seventy-five Channels all named "Blog" for the one you need. Naming Channels based on their purpose, or tagging them with the name of the team that uses them is a good way to get started. Every blog has a reason for existing. It might keep track of meeting notes, announcements, project updates, or compilations of cat pictures. Making the name descriptive will make it easier to search for, easier to add content to, and frankly easier to care about. It tells members what the Channel is for, which helps them decide how relevant it is to their day.
When building out a digital workplace, Pages are your best friend. Channels and Spaces can both be nested under Pages in the Site Manager, letting you use them as collectors for your projects or team spaces. These collector Pages can hold widgets that gather information from everything nested beneath them, offering people a unified view of the relevant content from across all of those areas. Collector Pages like this also work to streamline your site navigation, presenting people with clear options right from the homepage.
A site with a clear structure helps members build a connection with it on their first visit. It can be welcoming, and illustrate how it will make collaboration and communication easier. In its own way, your digital workplace's very structure can help address the problems you want it to solve.
If you have questions about the Igloo platform, workflows, or best practices, you can leave a comment here, or ask a question in the Community area.