Two days in the TechNet booth at Tech*Ed (and six autographed copies of Ric Merrifield's ReThink later), there has been a lot of great feedback on the site. If you can't be here to talk with us, let me share some of what I'm hearing IT Pros want, so please chime in with your thoughts here.
1.) Search! Search! Search! -- The new scoped finder control on TechNet, which you can see about halfway down on the home page and in many Tech Centers, has been warmly received. Is it helping you sift through the massive amount of information on TechNet?
The new scoped search tool
2.) More context. Whether it's getting updates of products that a subscriber has downloaded or news about the issues an IT Pro tracks, attendees at Tech*Ed are interested in increasingly personalized pages on TechNet. So, for example, several people I spoke to today and yesterday asked about a "My News" panel on the home page that alerted them to new content about the applications they use. The need for more context is also evident in the search functionality people talk about--beyond the scoped finder, mentioned above, the ability to sort results or new content by application, source (blogs, wiki, Microsoft, etc.) has been top-of-mind for many of the folks dropping by the booth. People want to know about who they are reading for IT information.
3.) Multi-product solutions information. This is a big issue for TechNet in the remainder of 2010 and 2011, as we recognize that major upgrade cycles seldom come in one product at a time. Yesterday, during the Weapons of Mass Deployment BOF, more than 70 percent of the audience indicated that they would not be deploying just one product when they upgrade to Windows 7, but also looking to move to Office 2010 and/or SharePoint 2010 at the same time. TechNet needs to address this as it provides product information, providing links to related information, by pointing out dependencies, and so forth from within separate product centers.
4.) Wiki confidence. The TechNet Wiki has been picking up steam, gathering more than 800 articles contributed in the first two months. Tech*Ed attendees were surprisingly aware of this new feature of our site and many had, at least, dipped their toes into the wiki content, with more than a few actually contributing. The concern expressed, however, was over how to judge content published on the wiki. Typically, TechNet delivers a "Microsoft verified" article about a troubleshooting issue or product usage, but the wiki will be a mix of many opinions. Folks expressed strong interest in a wiki reputation system that identified sources as being from Microsoft, the community or a third-party ISV or hardware OEM, so that they can judge the source of information for themselves.
5.) Save the user state. This is a How Do I video series, about the User State Migration Tool, that needs to be promoted prominently. With so many companies moving from Windows XP to Windows 7, as well as migrating application software made by Microsoft and third parties, maintaining the user's preference and state data is critical to providing continuity to end users. This is just one topic that I've heard about, but it's the one I've heard most. Some of the other issues critical for migration and deployment I've heard include: Image creation and management best practices; deploying in limited bandwidth environments; app compatibility; and a general desire for tools that reduce the migration planning process to the fewest steps.
Do these sound like the issues you are concerned about? What can TechNet do better? What would you like to see on the site next year (in addition to what we need to provide next month, such as the Windows 7 Service Pack 1 that was disclosed yesterday and is due in July, according to Gavriella Schuster on the Windows Team Blog)?
We need to educate folks that there is an RSS fed of the flitered search they just set up using #1. Why make me select the same filters over and over? True, your visits to the search page will go down *slightly*, but your user SAT will go up massively, because instead of using search, they'' be getting a custom-filtered-by-them-for-them feed they can write rules against! They can and will come back to this page when needs change. With the feed, the notification of changed content comes via push, rather than making them pull.
Tony -- I showed the RSS feed for search results and that is well received. It definitely saves time for keeping track of a granular issue.
This request, though, was different, having more to do with our ability to "curate the collection" on behalf of the user, so they need not come back to check for important changes in documentation or product alerts. We do this with security patches, for example, at technet.microsoft.com/.../dd252948.aspx, but we don't do it with the library as a whole (or as a bunch of separate topics).
The community could get into this, too, by crowdsourcing a "critical alert" news feed for various products out of the Wiki, perhaps?