Originally posted 16-Jan-20

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In this final part of a three-part series (see Part 1: Classification and Part 2: Search), I’ll discuss user interfaces, browsable directories, indexes, and alerts.

The user interface is the point of entry to a knowledge management system that provides navigation, search, communications, an index, a knowledge map, and links to all content. Usability is making systems easier to use and matching them more closely to user needs and requirements. User experience is a person’s perceptions and responses that result from the use of a system.

A good user interface with good usability — leading to a good user experience — starts with designing an appropriate information architecture (IA). IA is the structural design of shared information environments that defines the facets of a given information domain. It is a discipline and a set of methods that aim to identify and organize information in a purposeful and service-oriented way.

Browsable Directories

Browsable directories should provide more than simple lists of content. To enable the most valuable content to be readily found, add an “I reused this” or “I found this useful” button to all content. This is similar to a “Like” button but more specific. Encourage users to click on this button for content they were able to reuse. And allow content to be tagged with “recommended” or “good example” or “proven practice” to help it stand out.

Provide lists with links to the most-liked content, most-clicked-on content, and most-frequently searched-for content. Users should be able to sort and filter content by:

  1. Most downloaded

Provide an index to allow users to look up any desired topic alphabetically. Include synonyms as in a thesaurus so that regardless of which term a user chooses, they will be guided to the right place. For example, under the letter C, you might include “Cognitive computing — see Artificial intelligence.”

Create a knowledge map including all key resources with an icon for each, their descriptions, and links to each one. Map these resources to the different user roles, business process stages, and knowledge requirements in the organization. This should answer the question “where do I go if I perform role X, I am in stage Y, and I need Z?” For example, I am a software developer, I am testing software code, and I need a standard test suite. The knowledge map should allow users to quickly zero in on this set of conditions and link to the required content and other knowledge resources.


You shouldn’t have to know a document exists, what’s in it, and where it is before you can find it. A knowledge management system should provide information on topics of interest directly to users’ desktops and mobile devices via email, RSS feeds, or other notifications.

Alerts should allow people to follow specific:

  1. Content items: Documents, videos, or other content you follow has been updated or changed

Using alerts enables people to spend less time seeking information, and instead choose to have it delivered directly to them immediately, daily, or weekly.

Advanced discovery is enabled by classification, tagging, curation, search, browsable directories, and alerts. It makes finding the right content easy, because people spend less time searching and more time doing.

I have information to share based on my career as a KM practitioner. Read my posts for Lucidea’s Think Clearly blog.

Written by

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/

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