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Intranet Ideas

Short, practical tips on building better intranets.

2006 Year in Review: Top 5 articles for intranet managers

Friday, December 15, 2006  

At the close of 2006, we’re seeing some strong trends with web applications in general and intranets in particular. With the help of AJAX, browser-based interfaces are becoming more powerful and complex; yet paradoxically, there is a renewed awareness of the importance of simplicity. And as sites like MySpace, Wikipedia and YouTube become more popular, the concept of social, collaborative intranets is starting to gain traction.

With these trends in mind, here are the 5 articles that most influenced my work as an intranet consultant in 2006.

1. Enterprise 2.0: Dawn of Emergent Collaboration
The seminal article on how Web 2.0 will radically alter knowledge collaboration in the enterprise. Absolutely worth the $6.50 cost to download.

2. Greater than the sum of its parts
A great PowerPoint by Yahoo’s Tom Coates explaining how and why social software works. This slideshow gave me great ideas on how to add social value to an intranet.

3. Participation Inequality
In a multi-user community, like a wiki or a discussion forum, a small percentage of users are responsible for the bulk of activity, while others just watch. Jakob Nielsen discusses the phenomenon and ways to overcome it.

4. Ambient Signifiers
Adding subtle visual cues to your interface can improve usability for advanced users without overcomplicating it for novices.

5. Defeating Feature Fatigue
An abundance of features might excite people, but it decreases long-term satisfaction. This Harvard Business Review article about product design applies equally well to intranet design.

And let me throw one more in here. Thinking of quitting your day job in 2007 and becoming an entrepreneur? Guy Kawasaki makes suggestions on how not to go bankrupt in your first year in his article, “The Art of Bootstrapping.”

You have my wishes for a great 2007!

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.