Category Archives: value

Intranet journeys to nowhere

I covered other ways of searching for information on your intranet under my post on Findability. I have kept it as a separate publishing standard because I believe navigation should reduce the need to use other ways to find what you need on an intranet. Good, logical, usable headings and menus help people to navigate to their destination quickly and easily.

It is only when navigation is poor and people can’t access the information they need easily that search queries increase and alternative methods are used more e.g. email people for a link to a site.  That’s why I recommend navigation has its own publishing standard.

You can have a publishing standard that splits the needs of your organisation from the site-specific needs for navigation by having distinctive menus and headings for each of these. You can combine them but there is an increased risk of people becoming confused as to their purpose and being unsure if a link or heading is to the same part or a different part of your intranet.

Many organisations find it difficult to see the benefits from publishing standards.  I remove the barriers to show the benefits from each publishing standard in this series of posts.  Publishing standards aim to:

  • Reduce the risk of sensitive information leaks
  • Improve the overall user experience
  • Make people using your intranet more satisfied with it
  • Improve people’s productivity
  • Improve people’s quality of work

Benefits

Knowing that you are helping people by making content easier to read on your intranet gives three main benefits:

  1. People will have a much better experience and be more satisfied with your intranet. This will encourage people to more frequently and extensively use your intranet and save time reading information quicker to reach a strong understanding.
  2. You can encourage your publishers to realise that writing for the web can save them time by using less words to describe the purpose of their content and achieve greater satisfaction from people using it.
  3. Your organisation can see the increased satisfaction from people easily reading the information and gaining a quicker understanding to improve productivity.

This is the last in the series on publishing standards.  I hope you find them helpful when improving your intranet.

Accessible content for everyone and every device

Everyone whether they have a disability or not needs to have the same experience when using any intranet information or applications. Employees with a disability may use devices to help them. Your intranet needs to be compatible with these to avoid risking breaking the guidelines and any law that applies in the country where the person works.

Accessible content is also easier to adapt to use with mobile devices e.g. smartphones, tablets, and laptops with their different screen sizes. Try thinking of accessible content as being a step further on from it meeting your usable standard.

If your intranet has information or applications that are not accessible to all employees, you will be breaking the web accessibility guidelines. Legislation and codes of practice based on the latest World Wide Web, Web Accessibility Initiative (W3C Accessible content WCAG 2.0 AA) guidelines will apply in most countries. US Section 508 and UK DDA 1995 are two examples. These guidelines are at three levels, A, AA, and AAA covering the most basic problems to the most advanced problems experienced by people with a disability when using your intranet.

Many organisations find it difficult to see the benefits from publishing standards.  I remove the barriers to show the benefits from each publishing standard in this series of posts.  Publishing standards aim to:

  • Reduce the risk of sensitive information leaks
  • Improve the overall user experience
  • Make people using your intranet more satisfied with it
  • Improve people’s productivity
  • Improve people’s quality of work

Benefits

Knowing that you are helping people with disabilities to use your intranet gives three main benefits:

  1. People with disabilities using your intranet will have the same or similar experience to anyone else. This will encourage more frequent and extensive use because the intranet is accessible and usable and meets the needs for everyone.
  2. You can encourage your publishers to make their content and applications accessible to meet their legal requirements. There is the added, sometimes overlooked, benefit that accessible content also displays well in other devices such as tablets and smartphones if it meets accessibility standards.
  3. Your organisation complies with a legal requirement. It can also see investment made in your intranet has the benefit of being available in other devices that help with new ways of working and while mobile.

My next post on navigation will be the last in this series.  I hope you have found them helpful.

Benefit from finding your content easily

Many organisations find it difficult to see the benefits from publishing standards.  I remove the barriers to show the benefits from each publishing standard in my next few posts.  Publishing standards aim to:

  • Improve the overall user experience
  • Make people using your intranet more satisfied with it
  • Improve people’s productivity
  • Benefit your organisation
  • Improve people’s quality of work

It is vital that all information is easy to find by people who need to use it for their work. The amount of extra effort required by a content owner to publish findable content is minimal. However, the impact can be dramatic for the people who need to use it. It is important your intranet search engine can give content the right priority so people can find it using logical words or phrases.

In my experience intranet search engines have received an undeserved press by people using them to find or rather not able to find the content they need. People’s expectations have risen with their internet experience with little consideration of how Google achieves this. There is a phrase I have heard many times to explain this problem of “garbage in – garbage out” which I can understand.

Benefits

Knowing that you are helping people find the right information across your intranet gives three main benefits:

  1. People using your intranet will save time by finding the information more easily. Having a publishing standard on findability that encourages content owners to use all available tools to help people reinforces this.
  2. For you it is also important you can reinforce the right behaviour with content editors by having mandatory fields for metadata. This supports your guidance that sets out why it is worthwhile adding metadata and the content to your A-Z.
  3. Your organisation can be confident of improving productivity with a good search engine and its scope means there is all published content is searchable and indexed.

Are there other benefits you have found?  Please let me know.

In my next post I will cover secure and private content.

Benefits from up to date content you can rely upon

The problem many organisations find difficult is seeing the benefits from publishing standards.  I remove the barriers to show the benefits from each publishing standard in my next few posts.  Publishing standards aim to:

  • Improve the overall user experience
  • Make people using your intranet more satisfied with it
  • Improve people’s productivity
  • Benefit your organisation
  • Improve people’s quality of work

People must be confident they are using the most up to date information.  They need to clearly see a review date to be assured it is not out of date. Content must be reviewed regularly to comply with your organisation’s Information Retention Policy. As a minimum this will normally be at least once every 12 months by the owner or editor for accredited content and probably less for some content such as news articles. Owners should remove content that is no longer needed and out of date or update it so it remains relevant.

To actively manage and update your intranet content I find that having a ‘last updated date’ showing for each page of content can give people added reassurance that it is.

Benefits

Knowing that content available on your intranet that you use is up to date has three main benefits.

  1. People using your intranet they have confidence in the content available. They can rely on it being up to date and it encourages them to use your intranet more frequently and more extensively with each visit.
  2. You can be reassured it complies with the Information Retention Policy and will be reviewed regularly. Your publishing templates ensure the review dates have to be completed correctly before content can be published.
  3. Your organisation can be confident from a risk management perspective that only content that is up to date, managed and updated is available. Out of date content is removed and either deleted or archived depending on its status.

Are there other benefits you have found?  Please let me know.

In my next post I will cover content needing to be secure.

The benefits from knowing who owns all your intranet content

The problem with many organisations is their difficulty seeing the benefits of publishing standards and why they are needed.  I will remove the barriers by showing the benefits from each publishing standard in my next few posts starting with content ownership.  Publishing standards aim to:

  • Improve the overall user experience
  • Make people using your intranet more satisfied with it
  • Improve people’s productivity
  • Benefit your organisation
  • Improve people’s quality of work

If you want people to use your intranet and value how it helps with their work they need to be confident the information they use is clearly owned.  You need to be able to contact an owner if there is a problem with their content quickly.  People need to know who to contact if they need more information or wish to check about anything that has been published. It is vital that you manage all the information consistently and appropriately across your intranet.

Benefits

Knowing who owns each piece of content published across your intranet has three main benefits.

  1. People using your intranet will not be delayed trying to find out who to contact for more information. It also avoids other people being asked if they know who can help with the content with extra time wasted. Having the owner’s details linked to a directory that is automatically being updated gives people confidence they can easily contact the right person.
  2. For you it is also important from a governance view to have a complete picture of who owns what across your intranet. You can easily spot any gaps in ownership and take appropriate action. You can also audit all content and have a contact for any problems identified.
  3. Lastly your organisation can be confident it has removed the risks of intellectual property and sensitive information leaking outside of it because there isn’t any clear ownership for it. This helps reduce the risk of any damage to its brand and reputation.

Are there other benefits you have found?  Please let me know.

In my next post I will cover content being reviewed and up to date.

Your publishing standards toolkit

In my last post ‘Looking under the intranet bonnet‘ I explained how publishing standards are the foundation to a consistent user experience. The problem I find is that most organisations have publishing standards – usability is the most common one – but how they are implemented can be flawed.

I recommend you follow the next steps and use it as part of your publishing standards toolkit.  The other part of your toolkit will be the publishing standards.

  1. Frequently I find there is no agreed scope for the application of publishing standards.  Is it just for news and policies?  What about applications or collaboration tools?  Agree the scope in line with your strategy, action plan, and roles and responsibilities.
  2. Then it is about how these publishing standards should be applied.  There are many different approaches that I recommend depending on their needs.  The main aim is to have a consistent method that improves the publisher and user experience.  It also reassures organisations that content is secure, especially sensitive or personal information, and managed well.
  3. I find organisations do not appreciate the benefits of a well governed intranet or digital workplace until a crisis occurs.  Then you find funding is not a problem and the problem is fixed as quickly as possible!  You need to have some way to measure their impact.
  4. A culture of risk management supported by policies, training, communication and education helps to ensure the value of well-managed information through publishing standards is critical.  This will vary from organisation to organisation but it is essential and cannot be ignored by wistful and over optimistic thinking.

When you have removed these barriers to an improved and more consistent user experience you will be able to apply your publishing standards and, this is real key to success, show the benefits from taking this approach.

In my next post will be on the first publishing standard and the benefits from applying it.

It is not too late to suggest a publishing standard or leave a comment on whether you agree or disagree with the points I have made in this post.

Looking under the intranet bonnet

When you buy a brand new car, what is it that impresses you first?  Is it the colour?  Maybe the shape?  Or the style of the interior?  That is what a new intranet can be like; a good design, nice graphics and maybe some dynamic images that catch your eye.

However, what will most likely make you decide to buy is what is under the bonnet.  How reliable is your car?  How comfortable is it for you as the driver or passenger?  How economical will it be to run?  Again, this is what an intranet can be like.

Have you compared a brand new car with a recently launched or re-launched intranet?  There are many similar features you need to consider.  Like a car, you want an intranet that will:

  • perform well every time and be reliable
  • give a great experience and meet or exceed expectations
  • be easy to use with no training needed
  • need minimal maintenance with just routine services
  • give great value for the investment made

People love to see a well-designed site and to use a well-structured intranet but it is the content and applications that are contained within them that will keep people coming back repeatedly to use it. That means people are confident in the integrity and reliability of what they use. How can you achieve that? Using publishing standards that are part of a wider governance framework can make a critical difference.

Publishing standards are the foundation to base your intranet’s user experience on. These standards meet a variety of requirements. They apply to different types of content and tools. If your intranet transforms into a digital workplace applying standards appropriately is critical to maintain that consistency that encourages people to use it.

Over the next few posts, I want to cover these publishing standards.  Please leave me a comment for any you especially want me to cover.