Tag Archives: usability standards

10 best intranet designs…but you need good governance first!

When Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g) announced the best intranets of 2015 (hats off to Verizon as 3 times winners!) they said “While intranet teams continue to grow they simultaneously streamline processes and work faster, resulting in innovative designs. Common feature trends include: responsive design, search filters, flat design, and mega menus, to name a few.”

What did become clear to me is these intranets did not win by luck.  What NN/g didn’t say this is also because they have good governance, applied effectively, to build the foundations for well designed (and managed) intranets.

What do I mean by good governance?  Here are a few practical examples:

1. Have a clear strategy and direction set.  This should be approved by your stakeholders who help its implementation by openly supporting it.
2. Have a governance hierarchy setting out the roles and responsibilities for people involved with the intranet.
3. Develop publishing standards, especially for Usability, based on business requirements.
4. Most importantly, have the means to combine all these features of governance in a great way that results in the wonderful examples we can see with the winners.

These intranets didn’t win by accident but through managing their intranets well.  Good governance leads to great user experiences!

Are you moving to the Cloud?

I recently posted about the challenges organisations face as they move from having online content and tools hosted firmly on their estate to renting space in the cloud.

I believe the way forward is to have a governance framework and information architecture with the same scope to avoid gaps in content being managed or not being found.  Both need to be in harmony and included in any digital strategy.

If you want to join the live breakfast talk in Gothenburg, or online seminar and final panel discussion and Q&A using G+ Hangout, it is on 20 November 8.00AM – 10AM Central European Time.

You can also read these posts about how to move to the Cloud:

  1. Wagon Trains to the Cloud: The most common challenges you are likely to face and how you may overcome these
  2. Pace-Layering the Building Blocks in the Cloud: How Office 365 and SharePoint can play a part in moving to the Cloud
  3. Housekeeping rules within the Habitat: How they can help join up your organisation online using their collaboration tools and features
  4. The Curator – how to cultivate the habitat: Engagement and how sorting and categorisation of artifacts form the curation and cultivation process
  5. Content Governance – life cycle and reach: Governance and how content should be managed in the Cloud

Publishing content: Use it, don’t abuse it!

Content that is easy to use does not appear like that by magic.  It is having standards on usability, supported by training and guidance, that helps to make this happen.

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

Information must be usable and valuable to people who need to use it.  Features and functionality need to make it easier for people not just implemented for the sake of it. They should help people to share views, discover other people and their skills, find the right information and use what they find with the minimum of effort and time taken.

Your publishing standard should encourage employees to engage and influence the look and feel of your intranet as well as sites, applications, and tools. Embracing this approach through research, feedback with clear and transparent methods will help embed this and help to improve the overall consistency of your intranet user experience.

Benefits

Knowing that you are helping people to use information easily on your intranet gives three main benefits:

  1. People using your intranet will have an easier and better experience. This will encourage people to use it more frequently and extensively because the intranet is consistent and usable and meets their needs
  2. You can encourage your publishers to use the publishing templates with the usable design, layout, features and functionality be showing that more will use view their information.
  3. Your organisation can be reassured the investment made in your intranet is justified by the increased use made by people to help with their work.

Is your governance good enough for SharePoint?

I have written many blog posts on SharePoint based on my first-hand experience from developing strategies through to the full implementation of features such as TeamSites, MyProfile, etc.

One of the most common requests I get from clients is “How is the best way to manage their intranet while using SharePoint?”  This question is asked because SharePoint is a ‘big beast’ and needs a more rigorous and broad governance framework that is good enough for the challenge.

Your approach needs to consider:

  • Restricting use: stopping some features from being used e.g. SharePoint Designer
  • Encouraging best practice: making sure guidance and training are available
  • Preventing problems: checking content before it is published

Each of these approaches can support your governance strategy for
SharePoint.  The key is to understand what you need to use SharePoint for most of all.

My first-hand experience at BT and from working with clients is that well planned and managed governance is good enough to gain the benefits from using SharePoint.  It is how you approach this which is the critical success factor!

You can out more information on how to build good SharePoint governance to help you.

How to manage your intranet

After you have developed a clear intranet strategy as explained in my post ‘How to develop an intranet strategy‘ you then need to follow this with an implementation plan, publishing standards and a governance framework.

While every intranet is different there are some common factors that need to be considered so your intranet supports your business requirements:

  1. The size of your organisation will affect how you manage your intranet.  If it is based in one location and you know everyone by their first name then it is likely you can manage your intranet on your own.  If it has many thousands of people in many locations you will need a different approach and involve other people to help you manage your intranet.
  2. The type of organisation will affect how you manage your intranet.  Is it streamlined on administration, informal decision-making?  Or is it more formalised, committee driven, when making decisions on how publishing standards and intranet roles and responsibilities?
  3. The culture of your organisation will affect how you manage your intranet.  Is it a very top down, command and control, culture with feedback discouraged?  Or is it more open, democratic and consensual?  Whether it is either or a mix of both will influence your approach to managing your intranet.

My first-hand experience and from working with clients is that intranets can be managed well no matter what size, type or culture your organisation has.  It is how you approach this which is the critical success factor!

You can out more information on how to manage your intranet to help you.

SharePoint: what does good look like?

A little while ago I asked ‘Is SharePoint ‘good’ or ‘bad?‘.  I believe it is how an organisation implements SharePoint that helps you feel if it is good or bad.

Building on this theme I will be presented the keynote address at IntraTeam’s event in Gothenburg on 4 December ‘SharePoint: What does good look like for?’.

I will cover how your approach is critical to achieving a good SharePoint experience – for you as well as for people using it – with the need for a strategy that sets the right direction and a governance framework to help you keep moving in that direction every day.

I will also be showing examples of what I believe good looks like with SharePoint.  I can’t share all of these publicly with you I’m afraid – you will have to be at the event to see all the examples – but I can share some here.  I hope you find them useful along with my steps to a good SharePoint experience.

If you need any further information or help with SharePoint please get in touch.

Showing the value of your information

I want to help you to show to people using your information how valuable it is.  Information should be something that can be used to help you with your work and be useful to you.

What is it you can do for people to realise your content is of value, it is useful, reliable, and authoritative?  What pitfalls should you avoid so people avoid your information!

It always surprises me when I see other intranets and digital workplaces how poor the management of their information is shown to people who need to use it.  Most of this is down to poor governance but there are other factors that come into play and show people the content is not valued.

There are also good examples of best practice shown with other intranets and digital workplaces which should be shared and adopted more widely.

As people use an increasing variety of ways to find and use information e.g. laptop, tables, smartphone, and the type of information grows e.g  company policy, news article, blog post or discussion thread comment they still need answers to some basic questions:

  1. Why should I use this information?
  2. How can I rely on it for my work?
  3. Who can help me further?
  4. Can it help others?
  5. Will it change in future?

In future posts I will give you tips on what to do/not to do to help you to show how valuable your information is to people who want to use it.  A lot of these will be very simple and obvious steps you should take.

Please leave me a comment with any good examples or gripes you have over problems you experience with information.  I am not the font of all knowledge on this subject and would love to help you to help others. :)