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.
I gave a presentation on the Lean Intranet some weeks ago to an informal meet up of Content Strategists and Intranet people. In the presentation I was quite passionate about my position regarding intranet workers. I stated categorically that they should come out of the shadow of the internet and start creating their own tools and approaches – their own profession. At the end of the presentation I was asked a question by an astute member of the audience.
‘You say you want us to create our own profession but what exactly are the differences between intranets and internets?’
To my shame I waffled and gave what might have been to many an acceptable answer but it was not acceptable to me. Afterwards I realized that I needed to give this question some more thought and the result is this post.
Recently speaking at Janus Boye’s ‘Intranets at Work’ conference I introduced the concept of the intranet life cycle and intranet ‘boom and bust’.
I have been thinking about this concept for many years, ever since I carried out some initial use research for a local government intranet I was trying to get off the ground.
I was doing some contextual research with staff, sitting down with people at their desks and asking what they did, trying to establish their information needs and wants. I started talking to one guy and gave him the prepared spiel about what the project was and what we were trying to achieve when a knowing smile grew on his face. He’d been with the organization for over fifteen years and he had seen it all before. He co-operated fully and gave me some great data but the way he wished me luck at the end of the interview made me feel like I was going to need it. I asked him why.
In Part 1 I discussed the importance of considering content during the whole of the design process and the need to give it the same weight that the user through UCD/UX currently receives in most web projects. So how might this be accomplished?
I recognize that all web projects are unique is some way and any approach has to be tailored, so in this post I’m going to provide a fairly high level methodology, a methodology however that gives users and content the same emphasis. It has now become the norm that the needs and wants of users are considered at every stage of a project. I want content to have the same recognition.
This post is about content and how it should be recognized as a major player in any web design or intranet project. I have written about the concept of content centred design before and how online versions of hard copy content objects can lead to a much diminished user experience. I used the online dictionary as an example of this.
I wrote then that –
‘Content must be viewed as a stakeholder’
Nothing I have seen in the time since I wrote the above has changed my mind. Content must be considered as important a stakeholder in the design process as the user in order to ensure a balanced, rational approach to any web design project. By ignoring this fact designers and web teams are overlooking an essential element that would contribute to a better final product. By either ignoring content, or leaving any consideration to near the end of a project, the final design has a high likelihood of being sub-optimal.
In Part 1 I give an overview of SPC. Statistical Process Control (SPC) is a way of accurately predicting what an entire data group will look like based on small samples. This is important as everything varies over time and, if the data group happens to be web statistics, it may be vital to know whether a rise or fall in, for instance the number of vistors your web site or intranet has had in a week, may just be a part of the normal variation or is due to some significant change.
In this post I’ll show you how you can define the ‘normal’ variation for any web statistic. I’ll also give examples and show you how easy SPC is to use and how powerful a tool it can be in aiding analysis of your web data.
I’ll bet that the mention of statistics in the title has already got some of you reaching for the ‘back’ button but please stick with it. Although the detailed theory behind how Statistical Process Control (SPC) works might be somewhat complex using it as an analytical tool is really easy and, in over thirty years in the automotive industry, it has proved itself over and over again as one of the most effective tools I have ever used. These posts are about how you can apply this approach to improve the analysis of your web statistics.