21 February 2019

What is the Infrastructure Knowledge Exchange

Written by Marco Dounis
21 February 2019

What is the Infrastructure Knowledge Exchange (IKE)?

The IKE is the final form of a tool that has existed on the GI Hub website since the original launch in 2015. Formerly known as the Field Guide (not to be mistaken for a nature enthusiasts’ field guide), the tool provides users around the world with relevant, infrastructure-related resources covering the full spectrum of the infrastructure project lifecycle.

The Field Guide successfully generated a large collection of materials across infrastructure data, organisations, and publications. As this database of resources has grown, so has the need to better categorise and link material and allow users to more efficiently search the database for relevant material.

This need led to the creation of the IKE lunched 17th Feb 2019 - a modernised and updated continuation of the Field Guide. 

From Field Guide to IKE – the process

User feedback was integral to the update of the Field Guide. The GI Hub team used a survey to discover the most liked features of the Field Guide, and those that needed improvement. Most of the feedback indicated that, while there was a lot of useful information in the Field Guide, this information was not well categorised or presented. In particular, users found that searching the Field Guide presented results, but without clicking through to each result, it was not clear if the search had found what they were looking for. 

The overwhelming majority of feedback indicated that there was a lot of useful information in the Field Guide

Armed with this feedback, we set out to define the categories required to identify each of the articles, resources and documents on the site. We also decided that the ability to search using a key term would be helpful in allowing users to quickly find the information they needed.

. We also responded to feedback showing a need for learning in the industry, so categories relating to courses, training, certification, conferences, events and books were also added. 

Design

The design of the IKE was a key consideration for the update. To serve its purpose, the IKE needed to be easy to use in every respect - searching, filtering, and identifying relevant results. We used wireframes representing the layout of each of the pages and tested them with users to see if the changes were easy to follow and if they were an improvement of the previous design.

Wireframes outlined the main features of each page allowing users to visualise the changes and provide feedback

The wireframes were updated based on user feedback and formed the basis of the specifications written to brief a graphic designer.

The graphic design process integrated upgraded functionality with our brand ‘look and feel’, including the colour scheme and layouts. The team were very careful to ensure that the new addition would fit naturally into the existing website, providing a seamless experience for users. Recognising that a large portion of our users rely on mobile technology when accessing our sites, we also ensured the designs were fully mobile compatible.

Graphic design incorporated GI Hub colour pallet and existing design elements to ensure a consistent look and feel throughout the website.

Graphic design incorporated GI Hub colour pallet and existing design elements to ensure a consistent look and feel throughout the website.

Mobile responsive design included to accommodate mobile users. This design was also tested for usability and legibility, passing Google’s mobile friendly / ‘fat finger’ test.

So, what’s new about IKE?

IKE is more than just a beefed-up search function. The IKE project interacts with many other elements of the existing website including the homepage, article pages, landing pages and admin.  

IKE search

The IKE search has had a complete makeover, and some new features have been added. The search now includes a comprehensive list of filters, including country, sector, infrastructure drivers, document types and learning options. We have also included a filter to allow users to quickly find tools and reports produced by GI Hub.

The search also allows users to sort results based on relevance, date, title, and document type. If a user finds a search that they wish to share with their colleagues, it is now possible to click the share button and either copy the URL (to then share by whichever means is most suitable) or email it to others directly.  Search results can also be shared on social media.

Each search result includes an icon indicating what type of resource it is - publication, news, data, report, website etc. Each result also includes a short description of the resource, and categories which indicate the relevant country, language and sectors. If the article contains links and downloads, these are available to download directly from the search results page, meaning that there is no need to click through to the article.

If a search does not return any results, it is possible to submit a suggestion directly to GI Hub for review.

Article pages

Everything on the GI Hub website is driven by content that comes from our article pages and tools. In order to produce an effective resource exchange, we needed to improve the article categorisation so it could support the kind of results we want to include in the IKE.

Aesthetic changes are the most obvious to the user, with the article pages being updated to allow for the following features:

  • Wider reading pane and improved font size;
  • Repositioning important downloads and links to sit directly below images or headers for quick access;
  • Ability to include items from the IKE directly into the article;
  • Improved content layout and printability of pages;
  • Category indicators at the bottom of pages so article categories are clearly defined;
  • Links to older and/or related content so readers can follow a series of blogs or news stories;
  • Ability to add multiple images in a carousel;
  • Ability to embed video;
  • Updates to headers to include ‘breadcrumbs’(links that show the path to the page eg home, blog, article name), author details, icon section indicators and reflective parallax image; and
  • Ability to embed Twitter posts and suggest text to be shared to Twitter.

The article page has also been designed to have a pleasing look and feel with or without images, downloads or links.  

The article template looks great across mobile and desktop with a series of features that can be employed to present the most engaging content.  

Landing pages

The landing pages of the GI Hub website have been updated into two types – list or grid. The list is used for our data-heavy sections, where there are few images on the articles. The grid is used for areas like the news or blogs, which almost always contain an image in the header.

We have also included the document filter on landing pages to help a user find what they are looking for based on our set categories.

Finally, we have changed from a ‘view more’ button to pagination. This is better, both for the user and for SEO (search engine optimisation), which allows all our content to be indexed by search engines more easily.

Country and sector pages

Country and sector pages have been updated to include relevant results for either the country or the sector. This means a user could navigate to their own country and see all data and resources we have on that country in one place.  

Country and Sector pages now updated with items from the IKE and also related news, blogs and events. See Japan 

Country and Sector pages now updated with items from the IKE and also related news, blogs and events. See Japan 

Homepage

The homepage has largely been left the same, but we have added a search module and edited the articles shown on the page.

The new ‘Explore’ search module allows users to search in a few different ways. A user can type in a search directly, choose a country or sector, click on an Infrastructure Driver to show filtered results for that driver, or click on one of the many quick links.

Admin

The admin of the GI Hub website has been completely overhauled. New templates were created, and categories added to the article content. This may not be seen by everyday users, but it has been critical to the redesign of the outward-facing pages.

While the revamp of the admin was the largest part of this project, it ensures scalability for the future.

What’s next?

The future of the IKE is bright. Immediately after launching it, we have seen an uplift in traffic and use, despite it being a ‘soft launch’ without public promotion. Feedback on the usefulness and useability of the tool is already flooding in, but there is a lot of work still to be done before the tool is working as intended.

The existing database of content needs to be reviewed and categorised in full before the tool will be finalised. This is a slow process, as each article needs to be measured against our new categories and then categorised by an infrastructure professional. Currently, we have over 1,000 unique pieces of content on the IKE, including data, organisations, publications and showcase projects, and new content is being submitted and added all the time, ensuring the database grows daily.

Something missing?

If there is anything missing from the IKE or you would like to submit a report or tool for inclusion, please do not hesitate to contact us and send us the information we need to upload it into the database.