Project along with @Renata Vásquez and @Raimundo Rufín
About the client: RIPE NCC
RIPE NCC is one the five Regional Itnernet Registry (RIR) in the world. They're a not-for-profit/mission-based, membership organisation at the heart of the Internet ecosystem. They distribute IP address and other identifiers that are essential for Internet operations. In addition to that, they provide more services that support both the running and innovation of the Internet, like measurement tools, learning oportunities (courses), events and conferences, and community initiatives.
We value transparency, trust and innovation. We believe in the transformative power of education and the importance of collaboration. Our vision: Together, let's shape the future of the Internet. – RIPE NCC
RIPE Labs is a blog for network operators, developers, researchers and industry experts. It’s a platform where they can share and discuss innovative Internet-related ideas that support the RIPE community, usually pretty technical stuff. RIPE NCC staff as well as the audience this platform is intended for, author articles on the platform. Anyone can read and contribute to RIPE Labs. Registration is free and open to anyone. RIPE Labs has been providing the Internet community with articles since 2009; everyone is invited to submit ideas, and the editor, evaluates what can be shared on the platform.
To create an online journal that transforms the RIPE Labs blog into a community hub. This is a community-driven brand building opportunity for the RIPE NCC and an opportunity for us to connect with new audiences. This platform will connect people and encourage collaboration.
From inception, RIPE Labs aimed to be a community hub. A platform where industry experts could showcase, test and discuss innovative Internet-related tools and support each other in developing these ideas. It has grown, and the content contributed by both community and RIPE NCC staff continues to attract readers. The platform wasn't functioning as a feedback mechanism which it was first intended for, and readers don’t use the platform for discussion or connecting with new people. RIPE Labs works well as an information dissemination channel, and many people regularly read articles published on RIPE Labs. However, it never really worked that well as a feedback mechanism. Mailing lists are still the main communication platform for our community. We don’t get many comments under RIPE Labs articles (there are exceptions though). We also tried topical forums and polls on RIPE Labs, but it never attracted a large amount of input. The task is to now create a platform for people to better connect, collaborate and engage with our content. There should be a focus on areas which invite engagement: comments field, like/share buttons, discussion groups, contact sharing, a real-life hub of activity.
The solution is an improved platform that serves as an online journal and hub for our community. It's a place where our audiences can engage with other experts and share feedback that increases innovation. It must be clear, functional and support a collaborative nature.
It shares information relevant to Internet innovation
It reaches people interested in developing the Internet across the globe
It celebrates contributors with profiles and awards
It presents information in a logical way
It draws attention to sharable links and comments section
It encourages critical thinking
It questions norms and identifies opportunities
Job roles: network operators, network engineers, web developers, technical support analysts, software engineer, security analyst, data architect, security engineer, network administrator, technical lead, computer network specialist, information technology, system administrator, network technician, database assistant, system network administrator, web developer Field of interests: RIPE community, Internet technology, Internet measurements, software engineering, computer science, IP Engineering, network operations, network security, IPv6, Open Source, DNS, Internet Governance, Internet of Things, Data, Big Data, IETF, IGF, Look-a-like Audiences: ITNOG (ITalian Network Operators Group) SwiNOG (Swiss Network Operators Group), DENOG (German Network Operators Group) UKNOF (United Kingdom Network Operators’ Forum), iNOG (Irish Network Operators Group), PLNOG (Polish Network Operators Group). Academics: professors, researchers, lecturer, speakers, from the above fields of interests and job roles. Some conclusions about our audience that we’ve come to due to years of experience and interviews:
They ALWAYS choose function over fashion
They’re eager to know how things work
A majority of members prefer plain text emails
They see the world wide web in code
Although audiences are predominantly male, we are an inclusive platform that stands for equality for both men and women who are interested in Internet technology.
For the visitor
This project creates incremental value. We’re improving on a successful platform that provides readers with information about Internet technology so they can build better networks and continue to provide a stable Internet for all.
By improving this platform we’re addressing our community’s need to share information that contributes to the progress and technological innovation
We’re connecting people and their ideas across the world
For the organization
Creates a new communication channel for the RIPE NCC to share messages
Establishes a platform for the RIPE NCC to reach and engage with Internet professionals – this could be of particular value to:
Meeting organisers and programme committees
People Partners in their search for candidates
R&D and L&D can collect feedback on their services
A content marketing opportunity designed to grow audiences
Online community building to launch our own advocacy programme with industry influencers
Supports a feedback mechanism for tools and services the RIPE NCC is (considering) developing
We are a mission-based organisation and exist for the betterment of the Internet and the infrastructure that supports it
By providing our ecosystem with a platform to share information and engage in each other's ideas, we’re keeping true to our vision: Together, let’s shape the future of the Internet
Society benefits from an open, inclusive, collaborative Internet model, connecting people, communities and stakeholders, that’s what this platform supports
RIPE Labs is the experimental partner of the RIPE NCC, the fun one. The one who sees a puzzle in an obstacle and uses its collaborative nature to defy challenges. Powered by information sharing, innovative thinking and a fearlessness to push boundaries without being reckless. RIPE Labs is brave, inclusive and resourceful.
The RIPE Labs symbol comes from one of the hexagons that are part of RIPE NCC. This hexagon is also embracing a smaller hexagon that represents the community of RIPE Labs.
We are here to bring together Internet experts. We are curators of expert content who value innovation. We’re rethinking Internet technology for tomorrow’s inclusive, open, sustainable Internet.
Landing Page and Navigation
One of the more noticeable changes in RIPE Labs is the display of an article as a Hero banner at the very top of the landing page. To be selected as Featured Article of the Week is an achivement and honor in the RIPE Labs community. In every article card we can see the author of the article, to start adding faces into a very technical community.
We can navigate the main categories or access the "All Categories" page. This is also accessible from the footer.
Articles, Podcasts, Videos and Polls can be found at the main page.
It was established that the articles would be sorted in categories, chosen by the editor once the article was reviewed. This allows the user to have more specific subscriptions on topics that they may be interested.
Each category has it's own individual page, including videos and podcasts apart from articles.
Create a new article
In order to make the process of creating an article less exhausting, we divided it into 3 steps:
Basic information where we must specify the title, image and description (information you will find later in the article cards). The tags are no longer suggested by the author, but by the editor of RIPE Labs, to avoid endless tags accumulating in the site.
It was a requirement that the platform worked with Tailwind, since it was the library used by the whole company. That's why we designed a "floating blocks action menu", where we can choose the type of content we want to add (call Tailwind's boxes), and order them however needed. The blocks available include Header, Paragraph, Quote, File, Image, Embedded Link, Survey and Media content (podcast and video).
After writing our article through the blocks, we can add other contributors, specify the language and location of the article, if there is another article that relates to this one (to help moderators choose tags and prepare editions); and of course, declaring intelectual property.
When clicking submit, a dialog appears notifying us that the article isn't automatically published, that it must go though editor's review, and that we can check the progress and suggestions. We will be notified when it is approved and published.
The editor's review functionality works very similar as Google Docs' comments and suggestions. The functionality works cross-platform in order to get notified and make changes on the go. When all changes are approved by the editor, the article is published.
In order to give more sense of community, it was important to give more visibilitiy to authors, a face to each article and contributor of RIPE Labs.
When you visit a profile, you can read more about the person, linked social media, see their articles, achievements, tags or topics in which they may be a top contributor, comments and likes.
Apart form the articles, we can find a section of podcasts and video content.
These work very similar to articles. You can have individual stories or series episodes. While you are listening, you can exit the podcast page thanks to the Player floating controls. All podcasts include full transcripts.
RIPE Labs entire Design System was built dedicated for this project.
All cards and elements are responsive, meant to work from small mobile devices 320 px (iPhone 5, SE 320px / Fluid container 24px margin on the sides) to 4K extra-wide monitors (4k - 3840px / Container 2910px (Scale 970px Container x3).
Launch at RIPE 81 Conference
RIPE Labs was launched at the RIPE81 Conference in 2020, in which Alun Davies, new RIPE Labs editor, walks us through the changes and improvements on the platform, towards a community-based site.
User Feedback and iteration
In order to test the platform before development, a prototype on Maze with screens and certain tasks to perform. This prototype was sent to all RIPE NCC community, as well as some users from the previous RIPE Labs site; ranging from active members to occational visitors.
Thanks to the comments and feedback from the prototype insights provided by Maze, and the answers recieved after asking specifically "Was there any section in which you felt lost or didn't like? Specify why" we were able to iterate again, until mostly positive comments about functionality were achieved.
Comments from User Feedback
RIPE Labs has already been developed.
You can visit and join the community on labs.ripe.net