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"sculpting" bp

  • fpsdf


    What could be the best way of selecting which elements of bp should be in a company website?
    I’m implementing bp mainly to create an internal social network for co-workers. It seems to me that there are just too many elements, sections, tabs, etc.
    Editing bp template files wouldn’t go far, because of the updates, which would discard all that effort.

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  • Tammie Lister


    My first suggestion would be to do some user research. If you work there you can probably brain storm what you’d want from the site as a starting point. If you don’t then select 3-4 user types from the range of users that use them. A type can be gender, age, role, capability – something that makes them unique from other types. A simple format would be to interview / survey what they want from a site. Face to face for this rocks but you may need to do remotely depending on your situation.

    Once you have these user types you can see the paths through your site and the user journeys needed. You can even create fake profiles for these user types – make them real in your mind. Think about what tools/ components will enable those journeys – what they need and want to accomplish. Write a list. That’s what should form the site.

    Once you have this ‘shopping list’ you could even run it past your user group from the test (if you have one). Nothing like checking usefulness. I usually at this point create a site map using something like Balsamiq or another visualisation tool. This is setting the foundation and giving you an overview before you move onto fun stuff like wireframes.

    From this list you probably will also get a list of functionality that you need plugins for (if you do). Do they want to upload documents (a common intranet request)? And so on…

    That’s just a starting point but will create a picture for you.

    A few other questions worth asking:
    – Do you want a social network or do you want a community? A social network is purely connections and whilst can be part of a community isn’t one by itself. A community has deeper relationships and activities such as forums, working towards goals, a whole range of other actions beyond just a stream and friending. Do you want this to become their company home? Do you want this to be a full blown intranet or simply a social network?
    – Do you need groups? Are there going to be enough people to create groups (nothing as sad as lots of 1-2 people groups fragmented just to use groups).
    – How/who is going to maintain this? If you want a community it needs curation. Whatever format you go with you need moderation, encouragement.

    Just a point, when you say editing won’t work. You can in your theme create templates and those won’t get overwritten. This would be the recommended way. I’d say you should be doing this if you want a custom site not just the theme compatibility default version.



    karmatosed, I can not thank you enough for your great, valuable advice. I’m already getting great conclusions from it. Yes, that’s in fact a community what I’m intending to implement, not a social network and yes, groups may not be the best practice.
    This is giving me great inspiration for making a small survey at this company.

    Thank you once more! That’s a tremendous gesture, what you did here.

    Prometheus Fire


    This is something near and dear to my heart, and I hope others will pick up on this thread. Social intranets are something that I’ve been investigating for organizations that go beyond a simple few people. I’ve done a ton of research into this and to start off, I think you need to read this book: The Collaborative Organization by Jacob Morgan. I’m not associated with the book or the author, but when it comes to doing what you are attempting, understanding beyond the software capabilities is something that we should all be living and breathing.

    I’m in the very early stages of a project in which I want to deploy WP/BP as an SaaS for organizations while allowing those organizations to take advantage of the iteration quickness and overall flexibility that WordPress offers when compared to SharePoint, Yammer, Basecamp, SocialText and Mango Apps.

    After reading the Morgan book, which I cannot recommend enough to anyone who is considering BP as an intranet solution, you begin to realize that there are things that go beyond BP. You need to not only know BP and WP, but you need to know about all the available plugins out there, both premium and repository. I’ve been living and breathing this stuff for the last 6 months as I researched and studied.

    What you are talking about is emergent collaboration, and it goes beyond micro-blogging, activity streams, forums and rich profiles. It might mean document management, relevance-based searching and more. More importantly, the Morgan book talks about how IT deployments work in organizations. Understanding how to deploy a setup like this, even in a small organization of ten people, goes beyond understanding how to build templates and hack BP.

    What you are doing can certainly be done, but don’t go any further until you’ve read the book. It’ll help yo understand better the impact of what you are working on once it gets past novelty. That book will also help excite you about your project, it will help you think big, even if you don’t need to (because your organization might be small). The main thing you have to remember is that when using you WP/BP as the platform for an intranet, you are not building a website, you are building a communications platform. Having your mindset right along those lines will help guide you as you build and test because you will be asking yourself, “How does this impact communications?” It’s different than a website, because everything about it is about communications and information discovery.

    Also, don’t bother reading any tutorial currently on the internet about BP as a Intranet. I’ve read them all, and they are all woefully inadequate. A 1000-word blog post doesn’t do the concept justice – even you are only building a platform for 10 people. There is so much more to the discussion than the existing content about this topic provides and the overall conversation about BP as an intranet solution is only just beginning in the larger community.

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