Tag Archives: killer content

Valuing information tip 4: finding it more easily

In this series of posts ‘Showing the value of your information’ I help you with tips and advice.  So far I have covered owning content, accredited content and collaborative content.  I now want to cover findability of your content.

By findability I mean how you can make it easier for people to find the information you publish and manage.  Making that difference will show that your content is more valued by anyone finding it.


Think about the title of your content.  What words or phrases will people be searching for? For your content to be high in the search results you need your title to be clear and meaningful to your intended audience.  Any tags or metadata you add should help people understand your content when they find it.  The aim is to help people find your content more easily and not need extra time and effort to do this.  The sad truth is people rarely do this.

For example the title ‘Is SharePoint good or bad?‘ is clearer compared with ‘Is some Microsoft technology better or worse than average when compared with other publishing tools?’.


Avoid using jargon such as abbreviations or abridged versions of a word.  Always use the terms most people are familiar with and will recognise when they are searching for your content.

For example when I used to work in BT (a technology company) the term ‘broadband’ was also known as ‘DSL’ by technical people or ‘BT Infinity’ and other product names by Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service people.  Broadband was the common term that was recognised by everyone with other terms associated with it rather than used instead of it.


Think about the keywords you will be using which best cover the content you will publish.  Use these keywords in your content to help your search engine pick up on them (search engine optimisation – SEO).  The keywords should also be used most frequently by people to find your content.  The more frequently you use a standard term rather than variations of that term, the more likely your content will be ranked higher in the search results.

For example if instead of using the term ‘intranet’ you also used variations such as online environment, content management, accredited content, digital workplace, or inside the firewall, it will not have the same impact or findability (It will also be very confusing and possibly inaccurate too but you get the point I am making!).

So, using these tips helps people to find your content and by doing this add to its value because of the extra thought and effort you have made when publishing it.

10 ways to increase intranet adoption

Since 1996 I have been pioneering the best ways to increase adoption of new tools on the intranet.  For the 9 years as the BT Intranet manager and since then as a consultant, I have experienced different ways organisations have encouraged adoption of technology.  My top 10 ways are:

Research what people need

Ask what their biggest pain points are.  What could be made easier?  What is missing from the intranet?  What is good and they want more of?

Prioritise improvements

How important is the task to the person and to their organisation?  How many people are affected by this?  How frequently is it happening?

Early adopters to become ambassadors

Identify adopters who have the most urgent need to try something new to solve a business problem.  Involve adopters in proposed changes as early as possible to get their buy-in.  Satisfied adopters will be your best ambassadors and spread the word.

Make the first experience a good experience

You need to encourage not discourage usage to avoid unnecessary costs in extra effort.  Act on early adopters’ feedback.  Test with usability experts.  Compare with existing best practice.

Advance communications so no nasty surprises

Manage peoples’ expectations.  Clearly explain what it is you are offering and where they can get advice, training and help.

Consistent navigation

Give people a bridge from wherever they were on your intranet to get to another part more easily.  Show the same headings and position on every page.  Find out what are the best navigation headings that would help people most.

Personalise and target information

Give people the relevant information they need.  Give people the applications they need to use.  Give people confidence their personal information is secure.

Embed standards into templates

Reduce the barrier for publishing. Make it as easy as possible to do.  Focus on what is important – the quality of the information – not how to use the technology.  Consistently apply governance.  Embed standards in the templates.

Compliance tools give users confidence

Standards need to be enforced when publishers’ behaviour falls below best practice.  Compliance tools enforce important standards – business, regulatory and legal requirements –  and minimise time and administration.  Users’ confidence in the integrity of the information must not  be compromised.

Clear responsibilities and roles

Who is responsible for managing the intranet strategy, standards, IT infrastructure?  What should everyone involved – publishers, contributors – need to do?  Align intranet roles with performance management and job descriptions.

Intellact: BT’s customer insight and information site

There are a few ‘killer applications and content’ which have driven the usage of BT’s intranet.  As well as the BT Homepage – our corporate portal, BT Today – our new sites and Directory – our people finder, Intellact, BT’s customer insight and market portal has been key to achieveing this.

Intellact provides a wealth of insight on the communications industry. Thousands of people in all parts of BT use these services to:

  • Help understand customer needs and satisfaction.
  • Monitor the global press – daily updates on business trends.
  • Support business propositions.

Comprehensive, up-to-date, high quality research helps people make their decisions with:

  • Business news
  • IT research and advice
  • BT commissioned market research
  • Broker research
  • Industry sector research
  • Internet audience measurement

Business news is updated several times per day on Intellact.  You can sign up to receive an email that reviews the days top news from UK and international newspapers, journals and newswires.

Intellact offers an unrivalled collection of published research covering ICT and other industry sectors with the option to contact analysts for further details. 

Intellact can be searched in various ways and you can set up alerts so when a new research is available you are informed so you don’t miss anything.

Intellact helps BT give people what they need for their business needs and a competitive edge to BT.

Have a look at these Intellact examples.

Great intranets help make efficient people

When I posted about the latest results for BT ‘BT Intranet 2010 benchmark results‘ I promised to give examples the Intranet Benchmarking Forum highlighted as global best practice.  The first three examples are:

The latest example covers how BT’s intranet improves efficiency saving wasted time searching for the wrong stuff or sites not being well organised enough.  IBF said the BT Homepage was excellent at directing people to tasks tasks that were completed successfully.

BT Homepage groups services and content functionally under the title ‘Essentials’ so people have everything easily to link to when completing an activity.  Here are some slides showing examples of what is grouped under each heading on the BT Homepage.  Users liked the changes when we asked for their feedback.

Research with users shows high satisfaction with the BT Homepage and 91% were satisfied with Essentials which was great news.

People also rely on the BT A-Z.  This is an index of all sites that have a BT-wide purpose and are cross-indexed if need be under more than one letter e.g. Group Finance is under G and F. 

I’ll cover our A-Z in a future post.

How users know its the right content

In my post ‘How to get quality content’ I showed how much people value BT’s intranet and are confident about the integrity of the content they use.  BT’s intranet standards mean publishers must keep information up to date and clearly owned so users can rely on it.

In this post I’m going to cover BT’s intranet standard on naming of pages that helps users to find what they need more easily.

Each page should have a title relevant to the content to help users when they bookmark your site or scan search results. The title also appears in the top of the browser window giving users extra reassurance they have arrived at the right place.

Also try to pick a title which will help users when looking in an A-Z (so publishers in BT don’t need to start everything with BT) or call your page ‘homepage’ or ‘index’.

Title tags are in the head section of the HTML. Users of content management systems can set the page title in the properties section of the page.  Aim for having enough information in the first 20 characters of the title to identify the page.

Headings help users scan the page, search engines summarise it and text readers to skim it. Sub section headings help break up the page and allow the user to understand the page structure.

Some assistive technologies have a “skip to next heading” option, so use the <H1>, <H2>, <H3> and <H4> tag (or choose a heading style in the content management system) rather than just make ‘normal’ text look larger.

Choose your heading text with care, aiming to maximise ‘scanning’. The main page heading should ideally match the title tag and give a clear reassurance to people arriving at that page that they have chosen the correct link.

What’s needed for a good intranet strategy?

I was asked what was a good example of an intranet strategy recently.  It made me scratch my head and take a step back from what BT has successfully achieved.

Strategies will vary from one organisation to another in focus, length, substance, etc.  What will make sense for BT’s intranet strategy won’t necessarily for other intranets.  But I think some general principles will apply to most ‘best practice’ strategies.  These could be:

What is your organisation’s strategy and does your intranet contribute to it?

First you need to find out what your organisation’s strategy is.  What direction is your organisation moving?  What are it’s future priorities?  Then see how your intranet can help support this strategy and develop your own intranet strategy that is aligned to your organisation’s.

What are your priorities based on what do your users need most from your intranet?

You know what your organisation needs but what about the people who are using the intranet or maybe NOT using it?  You need to research how they do their work and what the intranet can do to help people do it better (this may be being quicker, cheaper, more satisfying even).

What long term priorities should be included?

Your intranet priorities need to be stretching (dare I say visionary!) and not too specific – that’s for your action plan for the shorter term.  So ‘Extend relevant standards to all intranet content and services’ is stretching and generic and not so specific as ‘Add this logo to the top right hand corner of xx pages with this colour and yy pixels in size’ would be.

Who are the key stakeholders to be involved in your intranet strategy?

Who can stop, hinder, accelerate or start your intranet plans to deliver your strategy?  Once you have a list of their names they’re probably going to be most of your stakeholders.  I don’t favour the ‘x reps per business unit’ approach but rather feel stakeholders should be mainly from the key functions that people are involved with or work in.

What is the culture and behaviour of your organisation?

Is your organisation highly regulated and command driven from the board level?  If yes then it’s no good having a wiki if the culture is resistant to sharing knowledge.  However if your organisation is flexible and receptive to new ideas and critical feedback then wikis and blogs can flourish and be part of your strategy.

So, know what your organisation and its strategy first, then you can prepare a strategy for your intranet which will flourish along with your organisation.

New BT Homepage – what’s your view?

In the last BT Intranet user survey I carried out earlier in 2009 I asked people in BT if merging information and applications into logical groups based around activities/functions would help them.  The majority answered ‘Yes’.

I am now testing the new version that tries to do this with users and asking for their views.

The last major change to the BT Homepage was at the beginning of 2009 with a recent change in some of the colours when the 2012 challenge countdown began earlier this month.

I’m sharing the proposed changes and how we are testing these with users in these slides.

What do you think of the changes and how we are testing with people to make sure they are right or be able to make further changes to get it better?

PS I’m on holiday for the next two weeks.  My blog decided it wants a break too :-).  So, my next post will be in December.