Tags: best practice, bt intranet, help, training, users
What help do you give to anyone new to your intranet? How do they get to know what words used such as ’homepage’ mean?
In BT we have online guidance and training for new users. This includes a glossary of the most used terms which you may find helpful to use:
Address: Another name for a location or URL.
Bookmark/Favourite: A way for you to mark a web page you want to return to later, in the same way you would put a bookmark in a book. This is called Favourite in Internet Explorer or Bookmark in Firefox.
Browser: Software that allows you to look at Intranet/Internet pages.
Cache: To store on your computer’s hard disk a copy of a web page accessed via the internet/intranet. The browser compares the cached copy of the page to the original, and if there have been no changes, it will use the cached copy rather than reloading the page again, saving on download time.
Cookie: A unique string of letters and numbers that the web server stores in a file on your computer. This method is used to track users so that they do not have to enter the same information when they revisit a site.
Firewall: Computer hardware and/or software that limits access to a computer over a network or from an outside source. Used to prevent hackers from getting into company’s intranets.
Homepage: This is your start up page. The page that first appears when you open your browser.
Hyperlink: A connection that is found in web pages that, when clicked with a mouse, opens a web page in your browser. A hyperlink (or link) may be a word, icon or graphic.
Internet: The internet is a worldwide network of computers containing information that people can access and read or use on their own computers. This network is sometimes called the Information Super Highway or ‘web’.
Intranet: An intranet is a private network belonging to an organisation accessible only by the organisation’s members, employees, or others with authorisation. An intranet’s web sites look and act just like any other web sites, but the intranet is set up using what is called a firewall, which prevents unauthorised access from outsiders.
Location: Another name for an address, also known as URL.
Search engine: A programme that allows you to search and retrieve specific information from the internet/intranet. Generally, you type in the words that you need to find and the search engine produces a list of pages that contain those words. You can then click on any of the displayed pages to go to that page.
URL: This is a Universal Resource Location, the correct name for the location that you type into the location area. Also known as Address.
I would be interested in what help you give new intranet users. Please leave a comment for others to share and learn from.
Tags: best practice, bt intranet, help, homepage, search, standards, usability, users
In my last post ‘Great intranets help make efficient people’ I talked briefly about the BT A-Z. BT Intranet users find this a very useful service helping them to quickly find a site.
People who use the BT A-Z have a reasonable idea they know the site exists and what its name could be. Cross-referencing of sites helps people to find it under more than one letter.
I’ve shown what the BT A-Z is in these examples.
The BT Homepage sets out the BT A-Z in one horizontal line with plenty of space between each letter to save users one click if there was just a BT A-Z heading and be able to easily get the letter they need (slide 1).
For each link in the BT A-Z, there is a heading followed by a simple explanation of what it points to so people know before they click on it if it is likely to be what they are looking for (slide 2).
On the left hand side of every page of the BT A-Z are icons which help to show to users what to expect when they click on the link (slides 2-4).
As well as giving people a full list of sites, if you know it is just information or a service you need for that letter you can choose that option from right hand menu to reduce what you need to check (slides 3 and 4).
If you have mobile/PDA access, you can still use the BT A-Z and see a list of sites to click on with (most important!) a mobile icon against those which will support that type of access (slide 5).
Tags: bt, community, content, governance, help, intranet, publishing, standards, users, value
I recently posted about ’5 simple ways to have good intranet publishers’ which James Robertson publicised on his blog and added the comment “All good stuff! I like to see a strong authoring community on this list, but that is probably difficult in an organisation the size of BT”.
So, grateful for any encouragement, especially from someone like James, I’m trying to show what we have done and will be doing in BT.
As BT’s intranet has grown so has the number of people publishing. The method of publishing and the management of content but the leadership has consistently been with communications in BT.
As the BT Intranet manager, I lead a small team in communications responsible for the strategy, standards, compliance and development of our intranet that meets the business, user and publishers needs.
We communicate to key stakeholders the strategy and action plans so we have their commitment for funding of key developments that improve our intranet and awareness, hopefully understanding too, when needed.
We have a decentralised publishing model. Each of our 6 lines of business has a key contact who engages with my team on operational needs and extends the implementation of our action plan and strategy.
Someone responsible for information is also responsible for publishing and managing it on our intranet. They have training, standards and tools to check compliance. They review their own content and respond to any user feedback. The owner’s name is on every page they own so users know who to contact with any queries.
Line managers approve or reject publishing requests. Soon if our new automated intranet management tool identifies content that doesn’t comply with key standards e.g. content out of date or not accessible, line managers of content owners will need to act or the offending content will be removed if no action taken by the owner.
I’m talking about formal, content management published, type content here that is authoritative and factual. It is different for user generated content like wikis and blogs which are rightly managed with a much lighter touch.
Previously we had Frontpage discussion groups and newsgroups when we had a smaller number of publishers who helped each other by sharing problems with each other.
As the numbers have increased – potentially everyone in BT is a user and publisher of content now – so the technical skill level has dropped and the time to devote to helping others.
Now we use BTpedia, our corporate wiki, to share any publishing issues. While people may have less time to devote to helping others than before, there are far more who can. We hope one will balance out the other. Time will tell!
Tags: benefit, bt, help, intranet, intranet applications, oracle, usability, usability standards, users
In my last post ’5 ways to help you improve intranet applications’ I talked about some easy steps you can take. The first step was having some usability standards to apply to your intranet applications so users have the best experience.
Now, there are plenty of sites and blogs who can give you expert guidance. The difference with these standards is they are practical and have been applied in BT. They are:
1. Have a style guide so there is consistent, usable, design
2. Measure cycle time to check speed of doing things
3. Measure support calls to helpdesks and target a reduction
4. Examine the systems error logs and see where people are having problems
5. Observe real users not survey (or listen to the opinion of senior stakeholders)
6. Fix the easy and small things like the labels on buttons and the headings in forms
7. Be forgiving. Allow the back button and provide an undo feature
8. Make help available where people need it.
9. Only have a minimum FAQ section. Instead try to reduce the questions people are asking frequently – the FAQ is a ‘things to fix’ list
10. Fix accessibility so everyone can use it
11. Consider the system emails and improve them
12. Forget trying to tell people things for their own good, we all have banner blindness
13. Be consistent across applications in the style and language.
14. Allow deep linking to specific parts of the system
My thanks to Sandy Blair for his help with this post.
Tags: help, intranet applications, oracle, usability standards
In my last two postings I have touched on the problems I find intranet users have with usability of applications they have to use. I covered in ‘Why are intranet applications so difficult to use?’ the common problems users have to overcome. I then suggested in ‘Why doesn’t vanilla = usable with intranet applications?’ how software vendors could prevent these problems.
Here are some easy steps to help you with these problems.
- Publish a set of usability standards you want all application owners to follow.
- Have an agreed owner of the usability standards who has credibility and can help application owners.
- Get the buy in from key people across the business to accept the standards and improve their applications’ usability.
- Make sure your standards are embedded into your procurement and development processes to prevent the problems getting worse.
- Review intranet applications at least one a year with the owner against your usability standards.
BT has managed to do all 5 steps. The user experience with our intranet applications is slowly improving – slowly because of the difficulties getting software vendors to get involved.
In my next post I’ll cover what our usability standards for intranet applications are. Let me know if there is other help I can give…………..or you can help me with.