Designing space hierarchies

One of the first things you do when setting up your community is to create spaces and sub-spaces in a hierarchy that reflect your organization's functional areas or interests.

A good way to design spaces is to match how your company organizes functional teams and projects. For example, at a high level, spaces could reflect organizational divisions, such as Human Resources and Marketing.

Sub-spaces are likely to reflect organizational subdivisions, but they could also mirror areas of interest or other more informal boundaries. For example, you might create a Sales space for the Sales department, and then create sub-spaces such as Channel Sales, Business Development, and Direct Sales. Other criteria by which to define sub-spaces include functional area and topic.

As you define spaces, keep in mind:

  • Before adding spaces to the system, you might want to collect information about roles for those who should have special permissions — such as blog authors, moderators, and so on. As you create spaces and sub-spaces by using the Admin Console, you'll be prompted for this information.
  • Each space and sub-space can have different sets of permissions so that you can control access and capabilities within a space.
  • When defining spaces and sub-spaces, make sure that the divisions and hierarchy are intuitive to people. You might start by looking at how people and teams are organized. You could also create a suggested space and sub-space hierarchy and get user feedback on it.
  • Create a general, high-level hierarchy to get started. After people are involved, they refine the categorization by using tags. Generally, a significant numbers of spaces and sub-spaces tend to create a lot of unused content and reduce the impact of tagging.
  • Define spaces with the role of tags in mind. Spaces organize content, but over time tags grow to constitute virtual groups used to organize content. As people apply tags to content, for example, a tag such as Personal might come to mean "a blog post or document that isn't connected with the company's business." This is probably a better way to categorize personal posts than a Personal sub-space would be.
  • For usability reasons, avoid creating a large number of spaces. With a significant number of spaces, certain elements in the user interface can become difficult to use. These include lists (including drop-down lists) that display the names of all the spaces.