What do you see when you look at the screen?
Whether you are working in a web browser, a word processor, a spreadsheet software, or maybe even an enterprise social network (where I spend much of my time), what is it that you see?
The computer screen is probably filled with numerous fields, buttons, links and images. We usually learn the few simple things we need to do our work, and ignore the rest. But what else is there? What do we really need to know?
In managing Yammer networks (a Microsoft enterprise social networking platform), I get asked lots of questions about functionality, with an ever growing user wishlist. But I encourage my users to think small. In Yammer, and in so many other software platforms as well, key primary functionality can be found in a very small, very specific area of the screen. It could be argued, in fact, that if a user just learned how to use the functionality available in one incredibly small part of the screen, they would experience most of the benefits the software has to offer.
Looking at what the page in Yammer looks like, there is so much there (with names redacted). Groups listed on the left, newsfeed listed down the center, group suggestions, app directory and network usage policy on the right. Data entry field on the top. Every single part is valuable. Every piece of information is important.
Now, look just in the upper left hand corner of the screen. Important and valuable through the other areas of the screen may be, I would argue that most everything a user needs can be found just in that one corner. Let’s take a look.
1. Home Icon in the very upper left hand corner, to get to your homepage newsfeed, where you can see every post made in every public group, and be aware of what people throughout your network are talking about.
2. Next to that is the envelope Message Center icon where you can send private messages, or make posts in groups. You can read messages sent just to you, or replies to your posts.
3. On the right side you see a bell shaped Notification Indicator icon. How many people replied to your post? How many clicked “like”? How much activity are your posts getting?
4. Below those three icons is the Search Bar. It’s always amazing to me how people just don’t see the search bar. “How do I find the….” “Do you know if there are any files about….?” Search is right there. Enter any word or name into that field, and you will see what has been shared.
5. Right below the search bar is the Group Listing. These are not all the groups in your Yammer network, just the groups you have joined. Just the groups important to you. Listed in their order of use by you. The more you use a group, the higher in the group listing it will appear. There are even numbers to indicate the amount of new posts that have been made since you last visited the group.
If a user can become familiar with these five tools, they will be an expert Yammer user. Now, look back up at the first screen shot. These five tools represent maybe 15% of the landscape of entire screen.
This is not to suggest though that you should not explore what else is on the screen, but that will come next. For now, realize what you need to accomplish the most, avoid getting bogged down by the stress that might be caused by the availability of the functionality, and get to work. There is much to be done.