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Updating the Community - What are your thoughts?

rfb

#1

Hey New Relic friends and family!

Communities can do LOTS of things. Here in the Online Technical Community we have been focused on SUPPORT - answering the questions that help you make the most of New Relic. We also turn to you to help shape our PRODUCT. Though there are always more Feature Ideas than we can implement, a lot of our product improvements come straight from your feedback here.

Another aspect of community is ENGAGEMENT - helping to foster conversations not just about New Relic products, but about the ideas, themes, and industry changes that impact how and why we use New Relic. We have some discussions over in Nerdvana, as well as our New Relic events category, for example.

In short - we’re doing a lot of things in this Community space, but it’s not always clear what we’re doing where or why. So we’d like to undertake a project to organize our space a bit more, especially to make it clear to our new folks what this community is all about and where they can best engage. This is where we need you. As Online Technical Community veterans, you probably don’t visit our home page a ton, but we’d love for you to pretend you’re brand new and see how these changes feel.

Here’s what we’re planning:

Updating the Information Architecture (Categories)

Because folks come to the Online Technical Community for a variety of reasons, we would like to match those motivations to how our community is organized. Generally speaking, we’ve found that most users come to the community after a google, docs, or support portal search. They often land on a related topic, and if that topic does not answer their specific question, they take one of two actions:

  1. Login and post a question (start a new topic) OR
  2. Check out our Level Up posts for a straightforward solution from our staff

Once a community member has been engaged for a while, we’ve also found that they want to expand their conversation from question/answer to discussions. In other words, they don’t just want to know why their NRQL isn’t working, they want to talk about what NRQL queries would help them solve business problems. We want to help those people too.

With that in mind, we plotted out some suggestions for how to better organize our categories to make it clear if you are getting support, leveling up your knowledge, or engaging in discussions. AND, it should make our home page cleaner and easier to navigate. Here was our suggested information architecture (ignore the colors! these are just for illustrative purposes):

Cleaning up the images - AKA making it look nice

We also need to make the Online Technical Community look and feel more like newrelic.com, and use stronger visual cues to help folks have a sense of place as they move through the community.

Putting the two concepts together - updating the information architecture and building a sense of place through visual cues, we expect that we will start to put together a community site that looks something like this:

What do you think?

While we think this is the right direction to go, we of course want your feedback!

  • Do you think this will help new community members better navigate our GIANT community?
  • Does it matter to you, the folks who are already in the community?
  • Are we missing a big opportunity?
  • Is there a community feature you would rather see us focus on because it would make things easier?

Thanks for checking things out and sharing your ideas and feedback with us!


Pardon our Dust... Changes coming to our Community
#2

I liked the break down of the categories. It can definitely help people surfing through the topics easier. However I was thinking it can also be good to have the categories be somehow horizontal, based on the table you posted:

  1. "What" Topics - For questions like “I have insights and browser, what can I do?”. It happens in real life when you buy a cool gadget just because you have heard it’s cool, but you are impatient to read its manual thoroughly and you don’t know how to get the most out of it! :wink:
  • "How?" Topics - For questions that the poster knows what they want exactly, and they just need to see how they can achieve that using this tools. It can be broken down into Agents, Products, and Insights. (For some reason Insights, to me, has equal weight to the sum of the rest of products! :smile:)
    Also it might be good to do a regular cleanup on this section so that the top answer to each topic would be either “It cannot be done at the moment”, or “here is how to do it: …”. This way it can become a wonderful source for troubleshooting. :slight_smile:

  • Guidelines - The missing pages of the documentation, in friendly words! Plus some sample dashboards with screenshots. No random Q&A unless it’s about improving that particular Guideline.

  • Events and News - Just events and announcements. I’d like to get a daily/weekly newsletter of just this, with no Q&A or discussions attached to it necessarily. It can also have a public Google Calendar that people can add to their own one!

  • Future/Ideas - To talk about what you want to see coming, as a user. Posters should make sure that the idea is a “It cannot be done at the moment” in “How” section!

  • Community - (similar to fan club) For anything that can help new users feel like a family here. It can also include off-topic/fun conversations like “How would you describe the benefits of NR to your grandma?”, or “If you were to run a modern farm, which NR tools would you use and how?”, or “What is the coolest swag (under $20) that you wish you would receive for free from NR?”, or etc.


I can see that the four classes of users can take advantage of this classification as below.

  • New Users (Prior to getting their hands dirty on it!) - They start going through "What"s, they subscribe to “Events” (mostly the intro ones rather than technical ones), and they may or may not join “Community” topics based on their preference. :slight_smile:

  • Starters (getting hands dirty) - They land as they cannot find the answer to their question in stackoverflow.com :stuck_out_tongue:. They are already beyond “What”, so they will surf through “How?” questions and may post a question. They open a tab of “Guidelines” here are there as they are adding new stuffs from NR to their product. As they find their dream is too big, they post it in “Future/Ideas” section. They might subscribe to “Events” of their particular domain.

  • Helpers and Sherpas - They want to learn as they are helping others! They go through all the categories but may skip “Community” or “Future/Ideas” sections. They find small typos of “Guidelines” and post them. They hope that one day they get the courage/expertise that they write their own Guidelines!

  • Busy Heros - They will just subscribe to certain “Events” and “Future/Ideas”. They are available in other sections upon mentioning them. :wink: On a random weekend, when they feel good and giving, they will write a new Guideline!

I hope it helps!


#3

The new layout looks good. Is the new layout going to have all the existing categories or are some going to be moved somewhere else or just removed? For example I see that Release Notes and Security Notifications aren’t mentioned in the images although they are already part of the documentation (Release Notes and Agent Security Bulletins), so could just be removed from here, although the Agent Security Bulletins in the documentation links to the one in this community.


#4

If anything I think you might want to consider reducing the number of categories. Using tags can help organize with fewer categories or forums.

It’s incredibly frustrating to have this many categories and I really don’t scan past hitting the “new posts” button or run a search for something.

I’d say work toward flattening what’s there. I’d probably take your list and make most of the sub categories tags that a person could filter on. I’d still break out the products as categories and auto tag them with a product tag to allow moving and cross tagging.


#5

Hey @Trevor_Dearham - great questions! We are definitely going to keep the security category - I just might not have gotten into this mockup yet. As for release notes, etc. - those have been handled differently across all products. Our plan in the future would be to put all release notes into the appropriate product sub-category and use a release notes tag to organize them. In the category description, we could provide a link to the filtered view of release notes for that product.

@eschumac - Good advice. We’re trying to flatten this much much more - and this is better than it was. I’m thinking that perhaps we could flatten the feature ideas as well and handle those with tags as we would release notes. That’s one more category reduction. In general though, I still do feel strongly that new folks will get some good out of seeing all the products/agents listed out as categories. I think you agree with that in your comments - am I reading that right?


#6

Wow @eyedean - there is a ton to unpack in your response. So many ideas!

One thing that @eschumac mentioned below is that it might still be too many categories. The one place I think we have an opportunity to further collapse things is with our Feature Ideas. We could just manage those with tags. Do you see value in keeping them puled out on their own (you had a future/ideas section fleshed out above). What do you think about that?

We’re definitely trying to keep things simple and clean, while also making important things (especially for new folks) super visible.


#7

I think you can put agents into a single category and use tags to differentiate by platform.

A category for each major product makes sense, but I would suggest to try to avoid adding any sub categories and use tags.


#8

@eschumac - super interesting feedback. I’ll definitely take this to our teams and see what they think.


#9

Here is an article referenced by one of the dev’s for Discourse (the software you use) when discussing the problem of creating too many categories:

https://blog.vanillaforums.com/news/6-common-mistakes-managing-your-community-­-part-2/

I created and ran a tech forum for 10 years. Fewer categories is easier on the users.


#10

Hahah! I know what software we use @eschumac! :slight_smile:

Totally agree that fewer is better. Current proposal cuts them from 23 to 8. We’ll see where we can whittle them down more.


#11

What you get from having Feature Ideas in their own category is a specific New Post template. It could also make it more obvious for new users where to find existing ideas to vote on, but if that means having too many categories then maybe new users won’t find the category.


#12

Hey folks - here’s an updated version of what we’re thinking for the categories:

SUPPORT QUESTIONS

  • New Relic Products & Agents
  • Feature Ideas
  • Security Notifications

PROVEN PRACTICE

  • On-boarding with New Relic
  • Level Ups (or New Relic Boosters, Accelerate, New Relic Discoveries?)

CONVERSATION

  • Nerdvana
  • Explorer News

That’s a total of seven main categories, and we would expect to have product-specific sub-categories under each of the Support themed categories.

We think it would be possible to flatten these even more (get rid of the feature idea category and use tags as @eschumac suggested, for example), but there are a couple of considerations we keep running into:

  1. We can only use 5 tags per topic, and if we drop too many categories, we could run out of tags. It already happens.
  2. Our category structure is also useful internally at New Relic - our product teams love being able to dive into the Feature Ideas without searching, for example. (feedback we asked for).

@eyedean - I keep coming back to your What, How, and Guidelines framework. I think we want to figure out how to implement those ideas using tags or some other organization method. I’m going to keep thinkering on that because I find it intriguing.

Any other thoughts about this new structure? We’re going to start making some changes in September as we prepare for the launch of the design…


#13

If you go to Admin>Settings>Tags you can set the max tags per topic to a number greater than 5.

I’m not totally clear on what this means. If you have posts tagged with “Feature Ideas” a person should be able to search on the tag and get them all across the categories.

It’s not obvious, but with this forum software you can filter the view by crafting the URL like such:

https://discuss.newrelic.com/tags/intersection/alerts/insights/feature-idea

Looks like they recently added some more functionality around this so the newer code might help you out.

I vote for no sub categories under Feature Ideas and Notifications (this one is curious).


#14

Whelp - that solves the technical issue - thanks! I also totally see your point of view about searching for tags. We teach our staff how to search and subscribe all the time. That said - for the parts of our organization that are not in the Community all the time, having feature requests in the UI is really helpful. Additionally, we have found that the extra level of visibility has helped a lot of community member to format their feature requests themselves, which is awesome.

Your vote is duly recorded! And I’ll keep hashing it out with our internal and external stakeholders. We’re not going to make everyone happy with every decision, and none of the decisions are set in stone. We can always switch things up as new user patterns develop.

FWIW - the Security notifications category (which we have already) won’t have any sub-categories.