Monday, July 27, 2009

Intranet Manager Blogs v Intranet Consultant Blogs

The author of the fabulous Globally Local - Locally Global blog and the annual Global Intranet Trends report, Jane McConnell has compiled a list of Intranet specific blogs. In her posting she compares the number of blogs written by Intranet Consultants to those written by Intranet Managers and found the comparison to be 50/50.

It's a tie! At last, there are as many blogs by intranet managers as by intranet consultants. Bravo!
I just redid my lists of intranet bloggers and online groups and divided them into 3 categories:
Intranet managers, Intranet blogs (consultancies) and Intranet Groups Online.

I am flattered to be included in the list along with so many knowlegable Intranet specialists and get great pleasure from the fact that our Intranet Professional community is about sharing information and not all about selling services. I have been a long time subscriber to many of the blogs included in Jane's list from both fellow managers and consultant companies and find them all an invaluable source of knowledge and ideas. I would recommend any Intranet managers out there check out the blogs in Janes list and subscribe to some or all to share in this wealth of information.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

5 Tips To Create a Successful Intranet
Part Two - Positioning Your Search Functions

My second tip in this series is very simple however it is something people often overlook.

You should make your People Search & Information Search accessible ALL THE TIME. This means having the search fields visible on every page of your Intranet and preferably in the same position on each.

My current Intranet has slightly more that 5000 daily users and every month our usage statistics confirm that the most heavily used functions are People Search & Information Search. Our usage stats for last month were:

The figures quoted above may indicate to many that the Intranet is just used as an expansive & expensive phone book and its true that some of my users have in the past commented that they only use the Intranet to look up contact numbers. Regardless, if the function is useful and widely used then I should make it as easy to access as possible.

It is interesting to note the figures also illustrate that the Information Search is used a lot less that the People Search. This may be an indication that the site search function is not as useful or reliable as possible. We are continually tuning our search engine and keep an eye on this figure to monitor if usage increases. Of course the smaller usage figure may just mean that my Information Architecture and Navigation is so good and intuitive that users have no need to use the site search! (Yeah right, that's it for sure - I just looked out the window and saw a pig fly by ;).

The image below shows how our Information & People Search fields are formatted. This component is presented in the top right corner of every section of the Intranet.

The following images are snapshots of three different sections of our Intranet and demonstrates how the People & Information search facility remains accessable from wherever the user chooses to navigate to.
As I explained in my opening, this tip may seem obvious to many however I believe it is worth mentioning as simple things are sometimes easily overlooked when managing the design of a large and extensive Intranet site.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

5 Tips To Create a Successful Intranet
Part One - Solid Branding

There always seems to be a debate on whether to give the Intranet a name or not. From my experience I think it is essential that the Intranet has a name and an individual design that differentiates it from any other company website or information sources. The name along with the design become your Intranet Brand.

Visual components within your design should align with the company or organisational brand but not copy it. Perhaps there is a graphic component, font, colour or shape that is recognisable as part of your corporate identity. This can be used within your Intranet branding. However there should be no risk that an employee can be confused whether they are viewing the Intranet or the external web site.

Your branding should carry on through the entire site. Have standard page designs and style sheets throughout. Use a specific colour palette across the site. Maintain a standard site structure and navigation. Some business sections will want to create their own identity and be seen as individual but you will need manage this and find a way to provide them with some uniqueness while at the same time maintaining the look and feel of the rest Intranet (this can be difficult but can be done).

A successful Intranet brand will:
  • Help engage employees and build trust in the Intranet
  • Become synonymous with accurate and timely delivery of information (this is a big ask and will take a lot of effort but is an achievable goal)
  • Be instantly recognisable

The following example is from an Intranet I managed about 5 years ago called "The Lounge".
The colour palette used was the same as that used in our Corporate Logo. This helped align the site to the organisation without having to have the actual company logo on display. The branding imagery was contemporary and funky without being viewed as inappropriate for the business.

We successfully used cross promotion in other communication channels across the organisation. For example, within printed newsletters, articles would include a line at the end " for more on this story visit The Lounge". On promotional posters where there is usually limited space for great detail the tag "Visit The Lounge for more details" was used to drive people to the intranet for further information.

The Lounge site was a great success and received strong support by the company leadership who were able to recognise its value for staff engagement and its eventual position as the primary communication channel.

As the Intranet Manager of this site I got a great sense of satisfaction when I would overhear conversions like:

Did you read about the new travel policy on The Lounge this morning?
Q. Where can I find the Leave Policy?
A. Its on The Lounge

Many may disagree with my thinking but I maintain that a strong Intranet Brand plays an essential part in making your Intranet a success.