Archive for the 'Tools and Techniques' Category

Do you really know what your users think?

October 5, 2014

group of people with question marksEven 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?

Read the rest of this entry »

Dis/integrate your intranet for a better user experience (Part 2)

October 7, 2012

 In Part 1 of this post I discussed how we could do away with the traditional homepage altogether and restructure an intranet with the focus being on the My Stuff section. In this approach the My Stuff section will not only contain personal data and tasks such as salary details and booking time off but also a personalised view of relevant content held in the other sections. Of course the question then arises of how this might be done. I am going to suggest some approaches but I’m hoping that this post might start a conversation and other, probably better, ideas as to how My Stuff might be made to work will be suggested. The probability is that no one solution will work perfectly but then again we shouldn’t be looking for perfection. If we only make 50% of the content users regularly need easily available in My Stuff then we will have saved out users a massive amount of time and frustration

Let’s start with a very low tech approach…

Read the rest of this entry »

Dis/integrate your intranet for a better user experience (Part 1)

October 2, 2012

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’.

Read the rest of this entry »

How healthy is your intranet?

April 29, 2012

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Designing intranet structures – Mapping and continually improving your intranet (Part 5)

August 5, 2011

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Designing intranet structures – defining and re-defining your intranet structure (Part 4)

July 31, 2011

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Designing intranet structures – Designing your URLs (Part 3)

June 19, 2011

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Designing intranet structures – using system maps (Part 2)

May 15, 2011

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Designing intranet structures – An Overview (Part 1)

May 7, 2011

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

The crucial question – what is your intranet for?

January 16, 2011

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.

Read the rest of this entry »