Even well resourced organisations with wonderful, rich websites can struggle with this question. They spend time and money on sophisticated web stats software and user research and feel that through this they have got a handle on what their users think when, in actual fact, they could be off the mark by several magnitudes. Why might this be true?
Archive for the 'Tools and Techniques' Category
There’s a conference being held in a few days and one of its features is Do you have the best intranet homepage? This got me thinking and I had a look at some sample homepages from ‘award winning intranets’ and, to be honest, I felt vaguely depressed. It took me a while to figure out why, which I did with the help of one of Jakob Nielsen’s posts from a few years ago. It showed a composite image of ten intranet homepages which showed a strong commonality and the most recent ones don’t look much different.
It has been claimed that the homepage reflects the whole intranet, if that is so then all intranets are overly complicated and stuff content packages that have no relevance to each other into a big bag labelled ‘intranet’.
You’ve been feeling low, you have no energy and you’re starting to get worried. You go to the doctor who, after checking a few vital parameters, tells you there’s nothing major wrong and prescribes some medication that will help you get back to normal. We would never dream of taking chances with our health so we get regular check ups and, if the worst comes to the worst, we hope that anything major is caught early enough to be able to do something about it.
This is just common sense isn’t it? Yet organizations can expend huge resources on their intranets and communication systems but generally have no idea of how healthy they are at any one time. This contributes to the all too common phenomenon of intranet boom and bust. Someday it just dawns on everyone that their intranet is not fit for purpose but shouldn’t they have seen it coming? Unfortunately it can be hard unless you have a system in place which effectively provides a regular health checkup for your intranet.
This post provides a methodology which will enable you to do just that – the Intranet Heath Check.
In this fifth and final post on Designing Intranet Structures I’ll be looking at what should happen once you have agreed the structure of your new or re-designed intranet with your users and stakeholders – mapping and continuously improving your intranet.
In Part 3 I discussed how the design of URLs can play a big part in forming the initial structure of your new or re-designed intranet. In this post I’ll explain how users and stakeholders can contribute to defining the structure, why iteration is the key to a good intranet structure, why content is important and why thinking of the future is important.
In all of the posts and articles I’ve read about intranets I’ve never heard much mention of URL design yet this can be a key approach in designing your intranet and will also permanently help your users in finding the content they need. If you’re worried that this might sound a little complicated don’t be. The approach I’m proposing in this post is simple and low tech.
This post details the first step towards designing or re-designing your intranet – the system map. This map will define your intranet domains and give the first overall view of the domains that make up your intranet and the things that go in them.
Before any system map can be compiled it is important that in depth user and stakeholder research is carried out as well as a content inventory (see Content Value Analysis). The analysis of these activities will contribute towards populating the system map.
This is the first of a series of posts exploring a methodology for creating the best possible intranet structure based on research and iterative conversations with users and stakeholders. This post gives an overview of the methodology and subsequent posts will explore parts of the methodology in more depth.
A good friend of mine recently asked me to present some ideas to the charity he works for who will shortly be re-designing their intranet. As they were still considering their options I reviewed the Lean Intranet presentation I was going to give and realised that there was a crucial question missing.
What is your intranet for?
This eventually became the central proposition of the presentation. Defining what your intranet is for is a necessary consideration before any progress can be made in attaining the Lean Intranet or any type of intranet improvement. Not defining what your intranet is for is, in fact, the greatest of the intranet wastes.