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Intranet Ideas

Short, practical tips on building better intranets.

In 2006: Turn intranet users into intranet editors

Tuesday, December 27, 2005  

The most important intranet concept for 2006 is to turn your users into editors. This is the wiki concept (definition), and it will become mainstream in 2006.

Why would you let your intranet users become intranet editors?
It removes publishing barriers. On most intranets, average users don’t submit content—the process is confusing or time-consuming. But if users can publish their own content, they stop hoarding and start sharing, increasing the currency and relevance of your intranet.

It reduces cost. A wiki-type intranet is less expensive to implement and maintain than a restrictive, workflow-based content management system. It also reduces the need for dedicated intranet editors.

It removes distortion. Ideas are exchanged in one transfer step, eliminating distortion and filtering.

It increases engagement. Users that can add and edit content feel a sense of ownership over their intranet.
Some intranet managers are alarmed by the prospect of allowing users to edit content. But good intranet software tracks usage and records version history, mitigating any risk. Will you open up intranet publishing in 2006? The potential upside is worth it.

Read more:

Intranet trends in 2006

Wednesday, December 21, 2005  

Shiv Singh shares his thoughts on intranet trends for 2006. Two things I liked in his article:
Intranet ROI will be pushed to the back burner... In the future, senior executives will be less concerned about the tangible ROI of an intranet. It will be an assumed cost of doing business, just as corporate e-mail has become.
I'm glad he sees this trend emerging. I've argued before that intranet ROI is a waste of time.
Some employee blogs will last but unfortunately most won’t... Most organizations have cultures that subconsciously encourage information hoarding and group think. These organizations will find that their employees are reluctant to share their knowledge and personal insights unless they see tangible benefits in doing so. As a result most employee blogs will be superficial and boring unless, of course, they are anonymous.
Great points on blogging, and they apply to knowledge sharing in general. Intranets can become a melting pot of knowledge and a catalyst for breakthrough thinking--but there are major cultural impediments to overcome.

Intranet evaluation toolkit

Friday, December 16, 2005  

Step Two Designs has released a free toolkit for evaluating an intranet. From their site:
This intranet review toolkit provides intranet managers and designers with an easy-to-use method of assessing the strengths and weaknesses of their intranet. It contains a substantial set of heuristics, allowing a detailed intranet review to be conducted that focuses on a wide range of functionality, design and strategy.

Make your text readable

Tuesday, December 13, 2005  

What is it with microscopic type on web sites? Is it cool to be
illegible? Does the designer hate the over-40 crowd? Are bigger fonts
more expensive?

Here are some guidelines for readable text on your intranet:
  • Use high-contrast colors. Black on white is the best.
  • Use 12-point type for optimal reading speed. For the small print, 10-point should be the minimum size.
  • Align left. Justified text destroys word spacing; right-aligned slows the eye.
  • On-screen, there is no difference in reading speed between serif and sans-serif. However, most users prefer sans-serif.
Read more:

Wikis aren't the panacea for intranets

Monday, December 05, 2005  

Shel Holtz argues that wikis are not an appropriate platform for powering entire intranets:

The notion of wiki-as-intranet is based on ease of publishing. It’s the same motivation that leads the folks at some blog software companies to claim an intranet could be reconfigured 100% on blogging software. Both suggestions come from the “selling hammers” school of business solutions: If you’re selling hammers, every problem looks like a nail. But intranets are more complex beasts that cannot be supported by either platform alone. At least, not if they’re good intranets.

About the Author

I'm Chris McGrath, an intranet consultant in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I've been working on intranets since 1997, and on plain ol' web sites for even longer. I run One Intranets, the firm that co-created ThoughtFarmer -- an enterprise collaboration platform for Windows-based intranets.