Monday, May 09, 2016

Designing Layout in IBM Connections Communities

Two of the most critical factors in the success or failure of your intranet are the ease of use and the degree to which it catches the eye. 

Unfortunately, there's not a lot of choices you can make with regards to IBM Connections Community design past the front page. Once you hit a forum or a library of files and folders, every single community starts to look the same. 

Luckily though, there's a fair bit of flexibility on the  opening page and on the Wiki Pages.  I've already covered how to make your community look more appealing in other posts (See Part 1 and Part 2) but I recently created an internal community that I thought might be useful as a design exercise.

A Tiled Community Example

This is an internal "social" community which uses a style similar to the Microsoft Windows 10 tiles. I chose that look because I thought it would be both "fun" and "familiar" to our users.

To build this, I simply made a 4 x 3 table and set it to 100% width. Then I went into each of the four cells in the top row and right clicked on them and set them to 25% width.   This ensures that changes within the cells don't muck things up.

Finally, I went into the Second Row, Second  Column cell and merged right.

From there is was just a matter of creating the pictures.

I decided upon a set size for each icon (about 400 x 400) and used a font icon set to create the white icons.  I also wrote on them using the same font and size.  I included a white border in my picture because I didn't want to have to rely on connections to do my spacing for me.  

The middle tile is double-width so it's 800 x 400.

When I added the pictures, I made sure that they were 100% of the cell size (you can do that by right clicking on the image and setting the options).

From there, you just link the images to the places you need them to go.

Other Places to Look

If you're stuck for ideas on how to make your online community look more appealing, go to Google image search and type in "Intranet Designs" and browse through the many different screens.

As you look at them, ask yourself, which bits could be done in a table?

This will give you an idea of how to approach the sites to build them.

Start on paper and roughly draw out what you want on your page -- then try to draw lines around your objects on paper to determine how many rows and columns you need and which ones need to be merged.

You'll find that there's a lot more flexibility than you'd expect. 


Tinus Riyanto said...

Since you are mentioning that this is an intranet Community, could you elaborate on where you put any image referenced on said page ? On the Communities files libraries or linked from another intranet server ?

Gavin Bollard said...

Hi Tinus,

All Images are put into the community's Wiki. You don't have to have text there (images are fine). Once you've uploaded them to the wiki, you can right click and copy the links to use in your outline on the front page.

You can also HIDE the wiki without losing the images.

Clown Prince said...

Great design! Did you use the Community Description app or did you set the community start page to be a wiki page?

Gavin Bollard said...

All images go in the Wiki but the actual display is done via the community's description app.