Archive for September, 2008

Swimming in information

September 30, 2008

I will soon be writing more on ‘lean intranets’ and ‘content value analysis’ but now for something completely different…..

I’ve become intrigued at all of the designed information that surrounds us in the built environment. Information design that informs us, a lot of the time almost subliminally. So I carried out a little experiment. I walk from work every evening to the nearest underground (subway) station. I decided to note everything that I could see that might fit into this category.

Here it is – Read the rest of this entry »

Content value analysis for intranets

September 14, 2008

It might go something like this –

– Sampling would have to represent a fair percentage of the content and samples would have to be taken from several areas of a site or sub-site. Areas must be selected without bias. In an intranet with 1,000 pages a fair sample might be at a minimum 5%, that is 50 pages, or you could use statistical tables for sample sizes.

– Each page would be examined and scored for its value against a set of heuristics e.g. if content is obsolete, outside of a review date, incorrect, incomplete or irrelevant the score would be 0. If there is some value on the page it could be marked as 0.5 and if the page content generally has value the score would be 1. Perhaps screen dumps of representative non-value adding pages might form part of a results document. 

– The scores would then be aggregated and presented as a percentage e.g. if after appraisal of our sample 50 pages the score is 28.5, then we could present the site as providing only 57% of the possible content value to its users

This might encourage content owners to improve their scores by ensuring that non-value adding pages are deleted, reviewed or that good content is added. I think that the trick in making this approach work will be in defining the heuristics and finding a way of removing any bias from the sample.

Using this approach (I call it ‘Content Value Analysis’ as it has to be called something) it should be possible to benchmark sites and parts of sites against each other by using the same heuristics and, if done periodically, to chart improvement trends in the value a site offers its users.

Hopefully this approach will provide intranet managers with a tool that allows them to assess content in a structured way, produce a number that will accurately reflect the state of the content within the site evaluated and then to repeat the process over time to ensure that the intranet is going in the right direction – towards the lean intranet. Results can then be presented graphically as bar charts or graphs – a form of information that most senior managers are comfortable with and understand.

For a more complete description of the methodology see Part 2

Intranet 2.0: the need for ‘lean intranets’

September 5, 2008

I read a couple of blog posts recently that seemed to make a lot of sense to me when thought of together. The first post was in Toby Ward’s excellent IntranetBlog entitled ‘Intranet 2.0 sits on the back burner’. Here Toby comments on a recent survey which semed to indicate that Intranet 2.0 isn’t really getting off the ground with the take up rate for blogs, wikis and social tagging in organisations not getting above 15%.

The other post was in Giraffe Forum and was entitled ‘Intranets are not information dumps’. In the article the author states ‘The vast majority of intranets would be far more productive and collaborative if they deleted at least 90 percent of the content they currently have’. Not long ago I was responsible for redesigning the intranet for a large local government department. Having giving it a lot of thought I ended up cutting out around 40% of the content, much of which I had been responsible for inserting in the first place. It was painful but I was quite staggered with the minimalist, clean lines of the redesigned intranet. No-one seemed to miss the content that had been removed and I started to get compliments on how easy navigation had become.

So where is this leading?

Read the rest of this entry »