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.
Posts Tagged ‘intranets’
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.
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.
To date I haven’t really used this blog to link to other articles as I wanted to use it mainly for new ideas (plus the fact that James Robertson does a better job at pulling together articles and resources than I ever could).
However I am going to make an exception for Eric Reiss’s article ‘The 10 do’s and don’ts of website development’. Much of what Eric says is totally applicable to intranets too so it’s well worth a read.
I have to admit that I have always had a soft spot for Eric since attending the previous two Euro IA conferences where Eric’s company, Fatdux, contributed to the free beer the night before the conferences opened with Eric himself enthusiastically hosting the events. Somehow the conference itself seemed a little anti-climactic after that!
While doing some research recently I was pointed towards the Drupal 7 User Experience Project by one of its designers. Drupal is a free content management system that allows users to publish, manage and organize web content. I found the project to be a brave attempt to involve their users in the entirety of the design process basically from sketches on the back of envelopes up to the completed wireframes.
The project used free social apps such as Flickr, YouTube and Twitter to suport the project as well as discussion lists. Looking at what Drupal did gave me some pause for thought. If they can effectively involve their users, who are scattered all over the world, in improving their upgrades shouldn’t it be far easier for intranets to do the same? After all we know who are users are and where they are so there are no good reasons why this shouldn’t be done for every major change that is planned for our intranets.
I get email updates from an intranet group and recently they’ve added a jobs section. So I’ve been having a quick dip in to see what the jobs are like in the intranet world of today. This led me to do a little lunchtime research on intranet jobs on some of the web jobs sites such as Trovit and Monster. What I found was quite depressing.