Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Get a free copy of the Digital Workplace Trends 2012 Report

Because Intranets are inside an organisations firewall it is difficult for Internet Managers to keep abreast of what other organisations are doing in their Intranet space. Jane McConnell's annual Global Intranet Trends report fills that knowledge gap.

In the last survey over 400 companies participated resulting in a snapshot of Intranet trends and strategies from around the globe for 2010. I was personally interested to discover how many organisations were testing the social intranet waters and the Global Intranet Trends Report 2011 provided me with the detail I was looking for.

Jane does a comprehensive job of preparing each years survey and report and the consistent result is an invaluable and relevant reference for every Intranet Manager in any sized organisation. Get a taste from the 2011 report here.

If you are an Intranet Manager and would like to get your hands on a free copy of the Digital Workplace Trends 2012 report all you need to do is join up to participate in the survey and Jane will send you a personalised link. The 45 minutes it takes to complete the survey is time well spend as you will be referencing resulting report you receive for the next 12 months.

The more participants the more beneficial the results so join up to participate today and help make this the best Digital Workplace Trends report yet.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sites about Intranets - Platforms & Resources

This morning I received a Google Alert titled Top 10 Sites about Intranets and I expected to see all my favourite sites listed and although there were a couple of sites that I used, most of my favourites were missing.

The source was a site called Xmarks a bookmark synchronisation application which once installed registers and aggregates the bookmarks of all its users browsers. The currently narrow cross section of users of this application results in less than comprehensive results when searching for sites about Intranets. Having said that, the results are not bad and will only improve if take up of the Xmarks application grows.

It has prompted me to provide you with my list a few of my favourite sites about Intranets.

Step Two Designs
Headed by James Robertson @s2d_jamesr Step Two Designs provides vendor-neutral consulting and mentoring services on all things Intranet. The site contains a plethora of free resources in the way of fact sheets and articles. It also hosts the Column Two blog that James authors and I would advise all Intranet Managers to subscribe to the Column Two feed.

NetStrategy JMC
Jane McConnell runs this site for her Digital Workplace Strategy & Governance consulting firm. It also hosts her must read blog and is the home of the annual Digital Workplace Trends survey (formerly the Global Intranet Trends survey ). I have participated in the survey since it began 6 years ago. I encourage every Intranet Manager I meet to take part in the survey each year and as a reward receive a participant copy of the report. You can read a review I did of last years report here.

Prescient Digital Media
Intranet Consulting firm with many years experience in Intranet planning, consulting & strategy. Prescient Digital Media is headed by Toby Ward @tobyward who has been a twitter friend of mine for some time. As well as publishing excellent Intranet related articles and videos to the site there is also an excellent Intranet Blog with lots of valuable Intranet Information.

Worldwide Intranet Challenge
Run by another of my Twitter friends and fellow Aussie Andrew Wright @roojwright the Worldwide Intranet Challenge provides a wonderful service to allow your organisations Intranet to be benchmarked against others across the globe. This site constantly provides valuable reference material and insights into issues that face modern Intranets and the people who manage them.

Intranet Experience
Another essential blog to follow is Intranet Experience authored by Sean R Nicholson @seanrnicholson. Sean is one of the leading commentators in the current hot topic of Social Media on the Intranet.

Intranet Connections
Intranet Connections is an out of the box all in one Intranet software solution and although they have a product to sell they still provide oodles of valuable Intranet information and opinion for free. The organisation is headed by the wonderful Caroline Douglas @carolyndouglas and yes she is another of my valued twitter friends. The frequently updated Intranet Connections blog consistently delivers value for Intranet managers in any sized organisation.

There are many many more wonderful sites out there to help you stay informed and up to date with everything Intranet and the above are just a sample to wet your appetite.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Usability Testing - How many users should you test?

One of the last presentation sessions I attended at Intranets 2011 was by Step Two's Rebecca Rogers @rebeccarodgers titled "How do you find out what staff need?".

Rebecca is a specialist at performing user needs analysis for organisations so I was keen to attend her presentation and I was definately not dissapointed. When Rebecca came to discussing Usability Testing I raised the question of how many users should be tested and referred to Jacob Nielsen's well known Alertbox article from 2000 Why you only need to test with 5 users.

The discussion that followed raised many differing opinions. Some were of the view that the research performed by Nielson & Landauer was specific to Internet Web sites & not for Intranets. Others maintain that 5 users was definitely not enough and that testing 20 users minimum was more appropriate.

My experience tends to agree with the research (now nearly 20 years old) that recommends testing 5 users at a time provides the best insight into an Internet or Intranet sites usability problems.

The Nielson posting explains the reasons why 5 users is enough:

"As soon as you collect data from a single test user, your insights shoot up and you have already learned almost a third of all there is to know about the usability of the design. The difference between zero and even a little bit of data is astounding.

When you test the second user, you will discover that this person does some of the same things as the first user, so there is some overlap in what you learn. People are definitely different, so there will also be something new that the second user does that you did not observe with the first user. So the second user adds some amount of new insight, but not nearly as much as the first user did.

The third user will do many things that you already observed with the first user or with the second user and even some things that you have already seen twice. Plus, of course, the third user will generate a small amount of new data, even if not as much as the first and the second user did.

As you add more and more users, you learn less and less because you will keep seeing the same things again and again."

This does not mean that you stop at 5 users. It merely means that you perform testing with 5 users. Attempt to fix all the issues arising from these user tests, then test again with the next group of 5.

I have found that using this method of testing, fixing and testing again makes the most of everyone's time and resources. My experience in using this method has demonstrated that by the time you have tested 4 groups of 5 users you will have identified around 90% of usability problems.

Of course careful consideration needs to be given to selecting which users to test. It is best to choose from a wide variety of employees, each with varying degrees of computer skills and diverse roles in the organisation. You need to try hard to ensure that the broadest range of employees as possible participate from the Executive level to those in call centres, outlets and on the road. This is also highlighted as an important consideration in the research.

"If, for example, you have a site that will be used by both children and parents, then the two groups of users will have sufficiently different behavior that it becomes necessary to test with people from both groups. The same would be true for a system aimed at connecting purchasing agents with sales staff."

I have always found usability testing to be fun and enlightening and while not everyone would share that view it is still an essential exercise that all Intranet Managers should carry out.