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A simple Project Yellow Pages to aggregate links and resources

Anyone who's ever worked on a big project at a big tech company knows that resources multiply faster than rabbits: email distribution lists, SharePoint sites, wiki spaces, Yammer groups, social media channels, code repositories, Jira projects, group mailboxes, online tools, file shares, dashboards and so on.

At worst, links to all these resources exist only in somebody's browser bookmarks or in email. At best, someone tries to corral the linksand partially succeedson a web page somewhere labeled "Links" or "Resources." That someone is me, and I've started using a concept I hope will become more widely adopted: (Project Name) Yellow Pages.

The expression "yellow pages" has been in use since 1883, and is now used worldwide, in both English and non-English speaking countries, so I felt confident that the concept would immediately be grasped across a global project team.

I collected project links in a simple three-column layout for a wiki page, organized alphabetically in Panels by types such as "distribution lists," "social channels," "help and support," "tools," and so on. I even used the highly recognizable Yellow Pages brand yellow (#ffd400) for the panel headers. The result is a wiki page that resembles actual pages in a paper Yellow Pages directory, further reinforcing the concept.

yellow_pages_anon.jpg

At the top, I reiterated two of the project community's values that seemed especially relevant: focus, encouraging people to use existing channels and knowledge repositories whenever possible; and openness, which invited visitors to contribute any independent resources they knew about.

To increase visibility, I added links to the Project Yellow Pages in a few different places:

  • a link bar that appears at the bottom of every wiki page (and at the top of some pages), using the Page Include macro;
  • a list of featured pages;
  • a space shortcut in the sidebar.

I wish I could tell you that the Project Yellow Pages has been well-received and well-used; however I don't have metrics on the usage of the page, and only two people have added links to it so far. I've put reminders on my calendar to periodically search for new resources that should be listed on the page, in case others don't take the initiative. But over the span of a multi-year project, I believe that the value of this centralized link hub will be realized.

You can read more about the history of the Yellow Pages on Wikipedia, including surprising commonalities between countries and languages.

3 comments

Hi Michelle, 

That is a fantastic idea and I had something very similar to your yellow pages and it went down like a lead balloon in the office.

What amazed me about my workplace was that before I arrived, there was no intranet page or home page or links page. Everyone had their own favourites saved in their browsers. 

So I built a yellow pages, except mine was a white page with H1 headings for key landing pages and related quick links below. At the very bottom were the A-Z page labels, for quick access to related pages. I liked this page but that was the mistake I made. 

White page example

the white page.png

Feedback from the office

  • The home page is a mess. 
  • Finding anything is hard or impossible. 
  • There is too much information on the page that is not relevant to me. 
  • Mike fix the damn page or we won't use it.

I scrapped the page and searched for a menu and found one called SubSpace Navigation for Confluence.

Advantages of the menu

  • Accessible from every page in Confluence. 
  • Permission based, meaning if you don't have access to a page and a link is added on the menu, you will not see it. This has proved very useful for management related pages. 
  • Menu is relatively easy to build and can have internal & external links, folders and one can make use of JQL. 

Empower the user

I asked each group of people in the office what they wanted to see on the menu and built the menu around them. Nothing like a bit of empowerment to resolve the problem. 

So far so good, our home page, which is still white has a sidebar with a search button and a few quick links, a middle pane contains our latest news from the blog, and a right sidebar pane containing a page tree. At the bottom are the A-Z labels, which I discovered our CEO used all the time and along the top of the home page and every Confluence page in our space is a fixed menu, which is broken down into teams and important stuff. 

Feedback from the office

  • We can find stuff quickly.
  • We like our team menus.
  • Can you please add links for ... (I get a request daily now). 

Example

the white page with menu.png

Mike

Like # people like this

Wow Mike this is a great story of listening to your end users and building something to meet their needs! I really like the menu you implemented and I will put this plugin on my wish list. Getting plugins funded is challenging in my group, but an easy navigation solution would have a great return on investment for all spaces in our wiki. 

I do have access to the AUI Horizontal Navigation Bar and the AUI Tabs Container which could possibly be used to build a "menu" of sorts that resembles yours. Your menu has inspired me to look at how I can take better advantage of the plugins we do have.

In the YP page space, I implemented a "link bar" at the bottom of every page and the top of selected pages. It has links to key pages plus a link to the YP page since there isn't room for everything. The YP page that simply lists links is only the first step in a better nav solution, like happened with your team. But no one had ever even collected the links before! Building navigation is definitely an art and a science and I hope to have the time to invest in it someday. You made a great investment for your team.

 Thank you for the inspiring story. I might even play around with a nav bar today!

Like Mike Bowen likes this

Hi Michelle, 

Thanks for your kind comments.

Yes funding these plugins is a challenge and making use of the free trials is very important. I certainly don't want to waste money on plugins no one uses.

I've managed to be very prudent when it comes to costing and choosing plugins, and to date have only installed three that are used every minute of the day. I am not a fan of the clever (Atlassian) pricing plan. In cases where I know only one or two people are using a plugin it seems ridiculously unfair to price it against the whole company.  In a way it is a good thing, makes us focus on the really important things in business. 

-Mike

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