Intranets are private computer networks that use Internet protocols to securely share part of an organization's information or operations exclusively with its employees. Sometimes the term refers only to an internal website; sometimes other Internet protocols are used as well, such as FTP.
The promotion of an intranet is never-ending. From the day it's launched, through to its eventual retirement, an intranet must be constantly advertised to staff. Without this, many staff will remain unaware that the intranet even exists. Others won't recognise the full value of the intranet, or use anything but a tiny corner of the site. This article outlines 34 ideas for promoting an intranet, ranging from the obvious through to the very unusual. Somewhere in this list should be a few approaches that you can apply to your own intranet.
The primary purpose of intranets is to support staff in doing their jobs, to help them complete common business tasks. In practice, however, this can be very frustrating on many intranets. Policies are located in one section, procedures in another section, and forms in a third. Information then needs to be hunted out in order to complete even simple activities. The effectiveness of intranets can be greatly enhanced by bringing together all of the information and tools relating to a task or a subject, and presenting them in a single location.
When you measure hits on inter/intranet sites, you are measuring overall volume of usage -- how many times parts of your site have been opened. However, hits don't distinguish between the opening of an entire page or a single illustration. There are many additional ways of measuring usage. However, measuring the "userability" of a site is just as important in order to improve usage numbers. But the first place any communicator should start when measuring the effectiveness of electronic communications is to identify the original objectives for putting something on-line. Conducting some baseline audience research upfront to make sure your electronic solutions will be as effective as possible and then measuring afterward to see if the intended objectives are being met.
Brand has become an integral part of the employee communicator's role as organizations recognize the importance of employee behaviors in building brand. When it comes time to integrate brand elements into the intranet or portal, good usability practices and testing can guide that integration, ensuring desired employee behaviors.
Thinking big in the first phase of intranet planning is the nature of e-business, but then it's time to start asking the tough questions. One needs to figure out where the business goals and the user goals need to meet in order to create an intranet that offers the most value.
The plumbing division of Kohler Co. is no stranger to managing their content. They had been using BroadVision's document-management system, Relation Document Manager (RDM), for three years and authoring in Interleaf since 1989. But when BroadVision stopped supporting RDM, Mark Peterson, the technical publications manager at Kohler, was desperate to find a replacement. BroadVision offered BladeRunner, but that tool didn't sufficiently support the heavy and stringent print requirements of Mark's department. Plumbers don't always have adequate or readily available access to the Internet.
You want to make sure that your systems have a certain amount of longevity — prolonging system lifecycle, avoiding the risk of obsolescence, and maximizing your return on investment — by making use of current technologies while not hastily chasing bleeding-edge promises of some sort of high-tech eden.
Despite best intentions, intranets often fail to deliver on the value they promise. Why? Companies take an 'if we build it they will come' approach. Too often, intended users don't come. And if people don't use the intranet, it will never deliver value.
In recent years, intranet homepages have become very similar in their basic layout. Intranets that look the same can nonetheless differ drastically in usability due to different features and content.
A relatively large navigation list (about 50 content areas) of ‘un-substructured’ finance related material. The intranet in question uses single menu pages for each of 8 main information groups and the above list was part of the wider finance information group. Some work had already be done on other subsections (i.e purchasing). But the rest of the content, which included policies, procedures and other reference material, was all in the same sub-section. The list was structured by alphabetical order only.
As the World Wide Web rapidly evolves, as philosophies for designing online documents change, and as technologies grow ever more sophisticated the technical communicator is presented with many challenges. What are the most eflective methods for structuring, authoring and maintaining online documents? What are the best tools and formats to use for the construction of a documentation Web site? What kinds of technical decisions must the designer or writer make? HTML or PDF? GIF or JPEG? Can several text and graphics formats be combined into one seamless site? What about hypertext links - how many is too many? What is the best approach to building a prototype? Presenting it to users? Selling it to management? Many lessons can be learned before embarking on the journey. , .
Numerous surveys across a diverse range of IT projects have identified that the lack of support from senior management (project sponsorship) is one of the biggest causes of project failure. This briefing explores the need for a project sponsor, the role they need to play, and how to choose one.
The key to intranet success is to provide value to employees and give them a reason to visit the site repeatedly. One of the primary ways to achieve this is to connect employees with the people and groups with whom they need to collaborate. Workgroups, or communities of practice, provide the basis for a living, growing, vibrant space in which people can access the information they need, share best practices, and contribute to a shared knowledge base. This article discusses the role of communities of practice within organizations and provides a framework for planning research and design activities to maximize their effectiveness.
The fundamental question to ask for all intranets is: what is the intranet actually for? While this is an easy question to ask, answering it meaningfully involves gaining an in-depth understanding of staff and organisational needs.
Most intranets are not all that different from each other - the same content subjects tend to apply to most companies and organizations. Content-Strategy has developed a universal intranet content chart that you can use directly - or modify - for free.
The only real difference today among an extranet, an intranet, and a public Web site is how and when users can access the site. Intranets are often on private networks, and extranets are occasionally, as well; but today's robust access-control mechanisms make private networks less and less essential to providing secure access to either an extranet or an intranet. On the other hand, password-protecting portions of a public Web site is becoming more and more common, and isn't a password-protected Web site the same thing as an extranet?
A corporate intranet is an effective tool for bi-directional information sharing. At last year’s STC conference we discussed how to build a successful intranet. Once you’ve built your intranet, your job is by no means over. Now you must maintain it and ensure that it becomes a part of your company’s corporate culture. To ensure this you must give attention to 1) the information, 2)-site design, 3) marketing and 4) support. We’ll discuss and demonstrate things you can do in these 4 areas to ensure that users continue to have successful experiences with your corporate Intranet.
The intranet needs to have a strong brand, a sense of identity that, at a basic level, distinguishes it from the public website and other information sources within the organisation. Beyond this, the intranet brand should be designed to build staff trust, and to convey a clear sense of what the intranet can offer and when it should be used. This briefing explores the role of the intranet's brand identity, as well as outlining how to put it into practice.
Many intranets are trapped in a 'downwards spiral': process and resources issues lead to poor-quality content, which reduces trust, which leads to more problems, and so on. This briefing explores the nature of the problem, and outlines some approaches to reshaping the intranet into something that grows and prospers.
Over the years I've received many e-mails from readers with some pretty wild, and even dangerous, misconceptions about intranet development and management. In this article I'll take a look at five of these common intranet myths.
Most of us who are working as part of a design team in a services company, a product company, or even a design boutique have to live with a generic intranet. In this article, I’ll describe how to leverage your company’s intranet and how to build a community around an intranet for a UX team.
The Internet created a revolution in electronic documentation. Now corporations are creating intranets (internal networks) and extranets (secured Internets for customer use) for the distribution and access of corporate documentation, manuals, and training using Internet technology. You’ll learn how to determine what should go on your intranet/extranet, how to ensure information meets users needs, and how to design effective electronic materials.
If you are considering or planning an intranet site, you know it can be an overwhelming experience. Given all the hype around the World Wide Web and HTML these days, it's easy to become overwhelmed--we were too. We were given the task of developing an intranet site for our department. We lost sight of the fact that, as technical writers, we are skilled at learning new tools and new technology and we are trained to present information in an effective manner. There will always be new tools and technology, but the process of good information design remains the same.