Happy 2018 to you all. In this first article of the new year, we look at some of the changes we made in 2017, say goodbye to the CIS Briefing and hello to the new features and series that have taken its place. We’ll also take a brief look at some of the other NBS value-added content you can expect to see over the next 12 months.
Changes to the website
I’ve only been with NBS for about three years, but the changes we’ve made in that time are quite astonishing; not just with the look and feel of the website, but with many of the extra features we offer in addition to our vast library of construction-related material.
Since rolling out the new website, we’ve received a lot of positive feedback. We’ve also been given some good suggestions for additional improvements. Some of those have been implemented this past year and others are being worked on for future implementation. Here’s a brief overview of some of the key new features that were added to CIS in 2017:
- The website’s design is now fully responsive on all pages, and you can customise how you see document search results.
- Several new interest areas have been added, and you can pin an interest to the menu and/or sign up for an email alerting you to when new content has been added within an interest.
- You can create and share project folders with colleagues who share your IHS account and add or remove documents as you browse through CIS.
- Any documents you place in your folders are flagged if/when they’ve been superseded to ensure that you’ve got the latest information to hand. You can update documents individually or apply a bulk update to the whole folder.
- You can customise how you receive information about updated content. You can opt into email notifications or get those alerts when you’re online. You can also pick what kind of new content that you’re alerted to, whether it’s all recently-added content across the service or just new content within a specific project folder or interest area.
- A news area has been added to the CIS home page. Here, we can alert you to relevant industry news, point you to interesting articles and information, and alert you to changes to the website.
- The briefing banner is collapsible to give you more active screen space. In 2018, it will also be more dynamic, changing regularly to reflect the latest value-added content.
- We’ve also been working to improve search and offer more advanced search features. This work will continue in 2018.
Changes to NBS value-added content
Goodbye to the briefing
In December 2017, we published the last of the CIS Briefing series. While it has been well-received over the past two and a half years, its original purpose has been obsoleted, and what we’ve produced this past year is no longer reflective of the series title. So, this year we decided to put the briefing to bed and introduce a new series in its place. Before I introduce you to the new content, let’s take a quick look at the briefing’s history.
Originally entitled Roundup, the first briefing was published in October 2004. In June 2009, the name was changed to The Construction Information Service Briefing, which it has remained until now. Originally, the briefing was provided as a two-column PDF that was formatted for print and contained three sections: an industry-related article, a news and current awareness section, and a newly-added documents list. Three versions were created and processed each month: one tailored to CIS UK customers, one for CIS Irish subscribers, and one for CIS Facilities Management users. In 2015, while still produced as a PDF, we gave our first nod to digital by removing the double column formatting to make it easier to read onscreen. We also changed the look and feel to better reflect the new website branding.
While these changes gave the briefing a fresh look, it was still a PDF and that process created issues. With construction-related online news services becoming more prevalent and industry news being shared on social media platforms like Twitter, the industry news we provided in the briefing was often outdated before it reached publication. Then, when the website introduced a feature to allow you to create and export newly-added documents lists, that section of the briefing became redundant. So, in 2016, those two sections were dropped. As a result, we were able to place more focus on the article, which grew in both length and depth. In 2016, NBS also went through a branding change, and briefing was updated again to reflect those changes. We also moved from publishing three briefings to just one, which we published across the original three subscription areas. However, while all of these changes were good, we were still tied to the PDF format, which made further advancements into digital-friendly formatting impossible.
That finally changed in January last year, thanks to some fantastic behind-the-scenes work by our CIS and theNBS.com website teams. After a lot of brainstorming on how best to facilitate URL publication, the team decided to create a CIS subscription-only area on theNBS.com. Now, instead of downloading a PDF, when you click the button, you’re taken to the website where you can read the article from your PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone. This change has not only allowed us to publish the briefing in a digital friendly format, it has also made publishing articles much easier. This has meant that we have more time to write, allowing us to offer more new content! So, in May 2017 during Mental Health Awareness Week, we published our first short article addressing mental health in the construction industry. Since then, we’ve published several other short articles, including a series on the ageing population and its impact on the industry. These articles, as well as other NBS content, can be found in the “Articles by NBS” area of the CIS website.
The briefing has been well-received over the years, and we know that many of you will be sorry to see it go. However, the positive reception we’ve received this year for the new online articles tells us that we’re moving in the right direction. And with that, let’s look at what’s on offer for 2018.
Hello to all new value-added content
For this coming year, we’ve developed a robust schedule to provide you with new, value-added content from a variety of sources. This includes newly-written material provided by our Technical Content Specialist (me), as well as articles written by others both within and outside of NBS. To facilitate this, we’re introducing two new series: CIS Insight and CIS In brief.
CIS Insight is the official briefing series replacement. This series provides a monthly article that offers you the opportunity to enjoy a longer, more in-depth read. Topics covered will range from practical discussions on things like materials, standards, and best practices to exploring new technologies and trends like biomimicry, 3D printing and, of course, BIM.
CIS In brief
CIS In brief will provide exactly what it says on the tin, a shorter article that you can read and absorb in a few minutes. While the topics covered will be diverse, it is within this series that you’ll find more “tips and tricks” type articles and discussions relating to current events and trends.
The CIS News area will be used to provide industry- and CIS-relevant information as well as link to beneficial and interesting reads outside of CIS.
In addition to Insight and In brief, the content team will continue to provide the more formal technical articles and subject guides. These will continue to be provided in PDF format because we know that a lot of you want to be able to print them out for easier reference.