Project Description

Activity Stream

Overview

Activity Stream(AS) was a proposed concept to revolutionise the way SORCE customers engage with the product.

In it’s initial phase, AS would primarily perform as a utility that covers the grid (space on a page) with bubbling content from various different SORCE Applications. Designed as new way to access content and purpose built to help the Intranet get users deeper into content.

Statistics from NN/g at the time indicated that as much as 50% of Intranet users did not leave the home page.

With that in mind we set out to create an application that would push content to users in a timeline based format they’re more than likely comfortable with already, through the social applications that they currently use.

As would also be the perfect design to launch on mobile/responsive devices to allow user to interact with content. Making full use of notifications, to push required reading to users, but also allow the to take advantage of scrolling content and/or be involved in the enterprise conversation.

Activity Stream

About Activity Stream (AS)

AS is essentially a systemwide replacement for a “What’s New” concept but it also the fundamental building block for a larger collaborative Content Streaming project that will provide Chats and Alerts with similar functionality.

AS occupies a single frame using a Filter set to dynamically build and display required content. A single AS grid can display a mash up of all the content types it’s hooked into, or it can be refined to display specific content types on preset filters. For example, AS could stream News to a News Grid, thereby replacing existing News Grids with a more functional item.

AS is built around the concept of Filters, and because of this we could taylor make streams to suit the purpose of a grid, leaving behind the legacy of dead white spaces on Home/Department pages. In future Users could subscribe to predefined Group Filters, like “My Stream” or “Project Stream”, alternatively we could run multiple streams for multiple Projects, all interfaced through a tab bar across the top of the Stream.

AS is initially aimed at two primary users, the Contributor and the Consumer. Ideally we would like to convert Consumers into Contributors, by making it engaging, easy and based on successful systems/examples that already exist in the market, such as Facebook or Twitter.

The process of adding to a stream should be straight forward, using a series of lightboxes to question the User through a wizard like interface thereby enabling them to deliver quality content to the stream.

Interface & responsive design

Activity Stream designed as a single column information application, as well as a new way to access intranet information. It could run as a stand alone interface designed from the ground up to be adaptive.

The traditional homepage problem

  • Empty grid trap
  • Poor content
  • Too difficult
  • Time consuming
  • Content relevance
  • No content discovery

What AS solved

  • Automatic content
  • Content wizard forces (proper tagging reference and quality control)
  • Add content at grid source
  • Home Pages self maintaining
  • Relevant Content can be targeted
  • Content pushed to the user

Analytics & linking engine

The URL shortening method obviously has a distinct benefit to us, but the Analytics model is even more useful.

A huge emphasis in AS is on user engagement, making it easier for contributors and more engaging for users. Considering AS could almost be viewed as a plug-in product for a grid space, it makes sense to consider how effectively it covers the analytics portion of what AS does, so we can provide administrators/managers with a tool kit to view what kind of content and/or app type is being successful utilised within their environment.

The obvious solution is through a link based analytics system like bit.ly, where link data is captured, managed and displayed for use. We know who a user is based on their login, and we can record clicks and even content types. With a comprehensive history of these three areas we can amass large amounts of useful data.

This data would be equally useful in helping build other filter views like:

  • my favourites
  • most popular
  • most recent

The links & Analytics is another project, which I will link to later.

Notification Dock

Stream based content can mean that people might miss vital information targeted directly at them, whilst away from the their interface. While Intranet content will be moving “Twitter” fast initially, it will definitely be faster than the current model, due to content types essentially being a mashed feed.

The Notification Dock is a way to deal with targeted or relevant content. Initially it would send notifications to a “Docking Space”, to be dealt with in the users time. In future we see the Notification Dock containing information “opt in” functionality, which will allows users or managers to subscribe to types of content, which get docked into the Notification Dock, read for them to consume as required.

The Notification Dock can also deal with traditional Alerts, like mandatory read items

Chat Stream

Chat Stream is a functioning chat environment that uses a Twitter like feed to create a conversation chain. Ideally the Activity Stream will ultimately be a combination of chats, activity and notifications.

The Chat Stream has been detailed previously and the roots of the activity stream are designed around CS. CS is designed to integrate into the Activity Stream in a sensible way, utilising all of the benefits provided by Activity Stream.

Activity Stream

For the Consumer

The AS Consumer engages with the stream in content consumption format only, either through personal choice, or through ACL definitions that do not allow them to add back to the stream. The organise can give everyone access to the stream, the decision is governance based.

How is it easier?

  • The Stream is a timeline. (Obvious storyline)
  • Content has focus (We can apply content specific Styles)
  • Content is relevant (We can apply and position Context Specific Styles)
  • Content is delivered not requested
  • Drill down content uses obvious UX hooks(Click to open)
  • Context is useful(Dates times etc use more common Web 2 Formats)

Things we need to consider

  • Highlighted Content (Sticky content)
  • Accepted Standards (JQuery, Bootstrap)
  • Best Practice (Learned Behaviour)
  • Finding Items (Searchable Streams)
  • Author based Filters
  • Saved Filters for Favourites

For the Contributor

The AS Contributor adds content to the stream, as well as consuming the content. Contribution will be managed through the ACL process and in certain cases might need some form of authorisation from someone higher up the Contribution chain.

There will need to be policy discussion around these points, as too much interference can destroy a contributors willingness to engage.

How is it easier?

  • Content Addition at grid source
  • Content is captured in a short bites of information as opposed to our traditional Advanced View.
  • Discussion can take place around the value of Meta Information, which increases relevance in findable items.
  • Content is broken down into logical “chunks” of information.

Things we need to consider

  • Highlighted Content (Sticky content)
  • Accepted Standards (JQuery, Bootstrap)
  • Best Practice (Learned Behavior)
  • Finding Items (Searchable Streams)
  • Author based Filters
  • Saved Filters for Favourites
  • Targeted Content
  • Content Authorisation
  • Viewed Feedback (Stats)

Activity Stream Functionality

Activity Stream needs to support three basic streams as well as  chat and notification grid. Logic dictates that to utilise the space as best we could in a single column view it would need to be tabbed. While tabbing is not ideal for usability, it will allow us to filter the stream in a way that makes sense.

There would also need to be a way to add content, as it is primarily built on the concept of everyday user engagement.

A basic paper plan was created and used as a way to get agreement for the first phase Azure wireframe & prototype.

Paper-process

 

Axure Wireframe

SORCE stepped project to Tabbed Streams

  • Single Global Stream
  • Prebuilt SORCE Streams
  • User based saved Streams

Each Tab is a set of filtered rules, initially SORCE will provide predetermined Filters which the customer can decide to turn on or off.

Single Global Stream

The first stage is to offer a single streaming solution with the ability to filter based on a special case scenario.

Prebuilt SORCE Streams

The first tabbed solution offers a mashed stream(all), my stream(personalised) and project stream(Company Determined).

User based saved Streams

Allow users to turn filters on and off and then save the results in their own tailored stream sets for the tab bar.

AS Timeline

The AS Timeline works by delivering the latest “Content Parcels” in descending order with the ability to pin a parcel to the top of the stream. Content Parcels can only be stickied by site admins, but the function can be requested by a contributor(or even a consumer if they think a story is relevant) through a “recommend for pinning” function.

Content Type is a description of the application associated with it, for example news is a Content Type of Article Publisher.

Content Parcels are made up of content, context and actions, delivered based on primary requirements of the specific Content Type. News for example would be delivered differently to events, although they would share attributes and in certain cases news may actually be an event. The difference is that for an event, the date is content, whereas for an article, the date is context.

Content and Context are supported by “engagement” actions, such as Comments & Ratings for News Items, or joins for Events.  Engagement cctions, are conclusion to the storyline, which is why they appear at the bottom of the Content Parcel.

Because Content Parcels are delivered to the stream based on content addition times, this would impact how we approach replication.

Consumers can identify Content Parcels through a Content Type icon and label contained in the Content Parcel.

Each Content Type’s related parcel will be designed to match, where possible, the layout and style principles of other Content Parcels, so that users can quickly consume the parcel or interact based on familiarity.

An Article for example would require a click interaction, but a Bulletin would not. Good use of Standard UX practices(like blue links) would indicate to a user whether or not to click.

Activity Stream Contribution

Contribution to AS takes place through an engagement “cog” in the grid space. by clicking the cog, the user opens a simple lightbox which determines the “Content Type” before continuing through the collection phase.

Examples of Content Type

  • News
  • Blogs
  • Info Box (HTML page)
  • FAQ’s
  • Thread (Forum)
  • Bulletin
  • Announcement

Once the Type is selected the lightbox moves further along the conversation to the “Content” capture wizard. This window is specifically about the Content.

An Article for example would include :

  •   Title – An intelligent character limited Title
  •   Standfirst or strap line
  •   Body – An intelligent line and character limited body text function

 

Once the Content is captured the conversation continues to the “Context” capture wizard. Context is defined as the items which are required to bring relevance to the content, such as Media files, Knowledge Tags and Links.

Dates are required for publishing and expiry.

Access Control functions use the standard ACL application, this is just a simple process to ensure we follow protocol.

The Targeting model has been defined to be able to target content to multiple groups, could a more intelligent filter system replace this requirement?

All steps in the capture sequence have a next and previous button at the bottom of the sequence to continue on the wizard path.

Once the capture process is completed the Item is published to the stream, via the standard Authorisation model if required.

Content Parcel Display

Specific Content Parcels can be opened by clicking on the “linked” content.

This interaction opens the full Content Parcel in a lightbox, an open fold or a page progression.

The display form is similar to a typical SORCE display form with exception of dynamic vertical growth. Content Parcels are explained in more detail in Beacon project here.

A working clip

dark-theme

Lightbox behaviour

Light boxes were to be kept at the same size for the benefit of the existing SORCE system. Typical SORCE features like the close lightbox icon in the top right hand corner get’s retained for consistency.

Lightboxes will continue to dull content in the window behind them.

AS will not open multiple Lightboxes.

When in a mobile or responsive environment, AS will use progressive windows as opposed to light boxes.

Links

Bootstrap http://twitter.github.com/bootstrap/

JQuery http://jquery.com/