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Intranet Ideas

Short, practical tips on building better intranets.

ThoughtFarmer, SharePoint, Wikis, and the lack of good intranet software

Tuesday, April 04, 2006  

There is a lack of good intranet software in the world.

Microsoft SharePoint is the most common intranet platform I encounter, but not because it's good. Out-of-the-box SharePoint is a nightmare from the user's perspective, and customizing it to make it usable is near impossible. I've been asked to consult on more failed SharePoint implementations than on any other type of intranet.

Wikis are being used successfully on intranets by some IT workgroups, and they work well for collaborative authoring. But as the main engine for a corporate intranet, most wikis fall short. Non-technical users struggle with content editing, and their inherent lack of structure devolves into chaos.

What do we need out of intranet software, anyway? The Intranet Review Toolkit helps identify some basic needs:
  1. Scalable, fast-loading home page with useful content
  2. Search with prioritized, easy-to-scan results
  3. Consolidated organizational news, with an archive of older articles
  4. Searchable, sortable corporate staff directory
  5. Easy-to-edit, easy-to-navigate content pages
Sounds easy. So why isn't there more intranet software that does a bang-up job delivering on these basic needs?

I have no idea.

That's why my friends at OpenRoad and I have spent the last 9 months developing ThoughtFarmer, Wiki-inspired software built just for intranets.

Check it out: http://www.thoughtfarmer.com

ThoughtFarmer installs on the corporate network. It's built on a Microsoft .Net/SQL platform. And it makes it ridiculously easy to build a usable, useful intranet.

The intranet software landscape just improved. Let me know what you think.

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.