I was recently asked by an open source developer working on some blog portal software what attributes I thought a corporate "blog portal" should have. Thinking about what I've seen at http://blogs.cisco.com/home and http://blogs.sun.com/ (two that I like) as well as some other work I've been doing, I came up with this list.
What do you think of this list? Do you have other ideas? Things that need to be added? (Or deleted?) Comments are welcome.
DESIGN REQUIREMENTS FOR A CORPORATE BLOG PORTAL, version 1.0
The following is a list of requirements for a "blog portal" for a company or organization. This could be for either an internal or external (i.e. public) blog portal.
1. LIST OF AVAILABLE WEBLOGS - Ideally if you went to the blog portal you would first see a web page that listed all the various weblogs that are hosted on the website, complete with brief descriptions.
2. AGGREGATION OF BLOG ENTRIES ON A MAIN PAGE - There would also ideally be a listing of "recent entries" across all blogs. This would allow someone unfamiliar with different blogs to simply look there and see what people are writing about. (This could be done with tools that aggregate RSS feeds and display an HTML'ized version of the resulting mashup feed.)
3. RSS FEED FOR ALL BLOGS - It would be great if the portal provided an RSS feed for this aggregation of blog entries. Think of it as the "everything" feed. There might not be many folks who would want this "entire" feed (outside of true company junkies, analysts, and competitive intelligence staff at competitors)
4. SUPPORT FOR USERS AUTHORING IN MULTIPLE BLOGS - Ideally a user should be able to login to the blogging platform and then contribute to whichever blogs they have been granted access. I don't want to have to login separately for each of them - and from the admin side, it would be nice if there was an interface that made it easy for the admin to set permissions across blogs. (Step 1 could be requiring the admin to config ACLs on each blog, but ideally a Step 2 would centralize that into an interface that shows who can write where, etc.)
5. SEARCH ACROSS ALL BLOGS - On that same "main page" that lists all blogs on the platform, there should also be a Search box that allows you to search across all blogs for any entries in any weblogs that have the search words/phrase. Another search box (or the ability to use the same one with an option) for "tags" or "categories" would be a bonus.
6. PRIVACY/PASSWORDS - However, there should also probably be the ability for a weblog author to "opt out" of the cross-blog search and appearance on the main page. Similarly, I could see the use in the ability to restrict access to *viewing* the weblog (and/or subscribing to its feed) to specific users. There could be a blog with content that is ideally only for executives, for instance. To me this is a lower priority because I think the greater value is in sharing information widely... private information can still be kept in email or on a specific hard drive. Still, I could see it being a request at some point.
7. STATISTICS - Everyone loves stats and at some point champions of a blogging project will be asked how it is going. Anything that can give overall stats, typical web stats like number of page views, etc., but also more blogging-specific things like total number of posts, average number of posts per day/week/month, total number of comments, average number of comments per day/week/month, avg number of comments per post, subscribers to RSS feed (which I grant is tough to discern), number of posts in last day/week/month, etc.. If the portal was for external blogs, you could get fancier and give stats on number of trackbacks, external links, etc. Overall summary stats would be great, but also stats for individual blogs. Ideally even a page that compared all hosted blogs in those stats. This would enable the champions of the blogging program to see which blogs might be doing exceptionally well, which might be struggling and indeed which have stopped - without having to visit all the individual blogs. Bonus if the software generates nice pretty charts that can be used as eye candy in powerpoint presentations.
8. DESIGN INTEGRATION WITH MAIN WEBSITE - It probably doesn't need to be said, but a company is going to want to integrate this with the rest of their corporate website, so there needs to be the ability for the web design to be modified, customized, etc. to seamlessly fit in with the rest of the enterprise web site. So full ability to modify CSS, change headers, footers, graphics, etc., etc.