Stage I: The Requirements

The main issue we have faced with Elgg over the past year is content discovery. New users, when they login, are faced with a pretty sparse home page (normal dashboard) or a not-too-orderly stream of updates (river dashboard).

There was also no way to actually get content to persist anywhere on the page. If you were not logged in for the time period when a lot of content was pushed into the system, it is very likely that you would have missed out on it. So it was decided to change the dashboard entirely and make it a lot more engaging and also to allow it to showcase most popular and new content.

We had specific module requirements like chat, videos and photos, which were taken care of by ElggChat, TIdypics and izap_videos.

The content areas were divided into persistent top navigation, persistent notification area, breadcrumbs, persistent links, left navigation, main content panel and right navigation.

Content showcasing itself was divided into what was popular across the site and content created by your friends that was popular on the site.

We had to develop a content subscription module (allows you to follow a particular peice of content, provided you had access to it), even if you were not following the content owner or were a part of a public group which was hosting the content. You get both standard email and site notifications for it.

There is already a lot of prior work on customizing the dashboard and layouts which were very useful and instrcutive: