Best Practices

Awareness powers a really cool and meaningful community: Earth Knowledge

Yesterday Awareness announced the deployment of a really cool Web 2.0 community for a company called Earth Knowledge.   You can see the site here.

What's cool about it?   A few things:

  • The UI is very innovative.  Earth Knowledge are experts in "all things Earth," and they specialize in providing studies and meaningful content about Earth and environmental issues.  The site revolves around geo-mapping and a mashup with Google maps so that all the postings  are "geto-tagged" to a location. That means you can easily locate postings about a particular location by just clicking on an icon on the map. This is far more than just nice "eye candy" -- it radically improves the usability of the site by allowing you to find content in a format that best suits the business purpose of the community.

  • The UI organizes content in a meaningful way.  Another cool thing about the community design is that the site presents categories of environmental information -- water, land, etc. -- in a way that makes it easy to find.  The user doesn't select from a list of "categories," they just navigate the site and it automatically filters the information appropriately.  It filters the content shown on the map at the same time. Try it and you'll see what I mean.

  • It uses permissioning and security to segment users and control who sees what.  Depending on whether you're a visitor or a certain type of customer you have access to different content.  That's an important part of most communities -- segmenting users and controlling who can see or do what.

  • It addresses real issues.  Earth Knowledge is all about preserving the environment and being good to our planet.  I love the phrase they use to describe their work:  "responsible science."  It's science applied to a very practical, important, timely issue (as opposed to academic research in some obscure abstract area).
As the announcement explains, this is the second major revision we've done for Earth Knowledge.  It presents a dramatic new look and feel but completely preseves all the content they have been generating and acquiring since their initial deployment.  That highlights two areas:

  1. The flexibility of our platform and the benefit of our Uniform Content Architecture.  We're able to access and reuse the content regardless of whether it was generated as a blog, a wiki, or whatever. So the UI and external appearance can completely change, but the content remains untouched.

  2. Our partnership model.  We work with customers on their intial deployment and then stay close to them to revise their community to match their evolving needs as they learn more about what their customers want.  It's a good general rule that the initial community you deploy won't be the final one -- it will change over time as you learn and you customers become vocal.  That's something we've learned and tell customers about as part of our best practices.  You don't need the perfect communty to start with -- but you do need a way to improve it over time.
Congratulations to Earth Knowledge for doing something so important and so cool!

EK main page...
Tags: customer

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