Do your intranet standards work?

I’ve come across many intranet managers for different sizes and types of organisations.  One thing which is constant with all their intranets is the need for some form of intranet standards.  Some have many, some have a few or none even.

Why have intranet standards? 

Well, it can be for legal, regulatory, business, technical or users’ needs and can be all or some of these.  It will depend on the type of organisation and its culture for what standards are needed to support it.

What are intranet standards?

These can be legal reasons with web accessibility; business needs for information retention; user needs like print and feedback features; or regulatory like with BT’s need to keep customer information separated from some parts of BT.  Whatever they are, you need to know they are being met but how?

BT’s intranet standards tools

BT underpins its intranet standards with tools that check web content for certain words, code or features.  If they are/are not found (depending what is being checked!) the owner of the content is asked to review the content and either update or remove it.  If no action is taken the web content is automatically removed so users don’t make business decisions based on poor content.

What do BT’s intranet tools check?

Page owner and review date so users have someone to contact for enquiries and know the content is current and can be relied upon.

Web accessibility up to W3C AA standard so any person with impairment has the same or similar experience as anyone else.

Security markings so any confidential information is properly protected and not found when checked for.

We will be expanding to also check for:

Names – if a person leaves BT, we can quickly identify the pages and change the name.

Readability – BT will try to use the Flesch index to calculate how readable content is for users.

Code – if site owners are not using the right code, say to download the correct version of our global navigation bar, BT can find out and remind the site owner.

So, do intranet standards work? 

Yes, if you are sensible and don’t create so many it is a barrier to publishing.  Make sure standards can be checked for compliance.  If you can’t is it worth having the standard?  Test out with users if they do improve their experience and enocurage them to use your intranet more.

Lastly, with content extending into social media, you need to think about how you apply standards for more formal types of content appropriately.  We’re thinking how to do this in BT which will be covered in a future posting!

13 responses to “Do your intranet standards work?

  1. As a frequent user of the BT intranet, it staggers me when I occasionally see other companies offerings; few match the BT one, though I haven’t seen the IBM one…

    The update dates and contact details are the key bugbear; when I find an error, I’ll always try and get it corrected; when there’s a lot of change and transition it can be difficult to identify the person concerned, or their replacement.

    Of course, that’s why some people like wikis (like me); Sandy Blair patiently explains why wikis may not be the right choice.

  2. I agree. Sandy is in my team by the way and his blog has some excellent tips to help users. It is very important to signpost people to the right tool to use for publishing the right types of content. That way ownership issues can be minimised.

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