The "junk drawer" intranet is the
Some symptoms of a "junk drawer" intranet are:
You regularly spend a long time searching for information on the intranet, and even then you often don't find it.
There is no consistency between different areas of the intranet.
It's easier to write a new page for the intranet than it is to find an existing one.
For some segregated
However, as soon as this segregated area becomes accessible to the rest of the company, then this idea breaks down. All these individual content
So, while complete lack of control can be useful in a very small intranet, or in a restricted area on the intranet, as the intranet grows and becomes more widely used it begins to cause problems.
We've already discussed the importance of having a consistent intranet style in
on Usability. A consistent style means that the
"A consistent style means that the user doesn't have to think about the layout of the intranet, and re-learn the interface in every section"
While it's easy to maintain a consistent appearance if there's only a small team working on the intranet, it becomes much harder when there's a large group of distributed authors. In order to have an intranet with a consistent appearance, it's necessary to convince your authors that design consistency is important and make it easy for them to
If authors are working within the framework of a CMS, then it is much easier to produce pages that are consistent, because they will all use standard templates. In fact it may be very hard
to produce pages with a consistent design. If they are not working with a CMS, and
We've already mentioned the creation of an ECI (Electronic Corporate Identity) earlier in this chapter and in the previous chapter. As we said before, as long as you explain to the authors that the ECI benefits the users of the intranet, then they are more likely to use it than if the ECI is seen as an attempt to enforce consistency for the sake of the corporate image.
One of the problems of the "junk-drawer" intranet is that similar information may appear several times and in several different places. If there are various possible solutions to a given problem, it's likely that the best one won't always be found and used. This is due to a
So, how can you prevent this from being a problem? Before entering information into the intranet, authors should get into the habit of searching to see if similar information is already there. This requires that the intranet search is accessible from the authoring environment - if it's too hard to do, authors won't bother. If there is existing information, the author should be able to update or amend the information with as little trouble as possible - either by contacting the existing author, or by editing the content himself.
"Because intranet users don't have the time to search for what might be the best solution to their problem, they will instead use the first solution that is good enough."
With an existing "junk-drawer" intranet, the problem is harder. The best approach is the "big bang" - to spend some time going through all the contents of the intranet evaluating its worth. Irrelevant material can be deleted, and similar pages can be merged. Unfortunately, this can be time consuming and expensive, and will require experts to assess the value of content.
There may be time or money constraints that prevent the "big bang fix" from being an option. In this case, the only option is "continuous renewal". When an author is updating a page, she should search the intranet to see if there are any other pages with similar content, and if so, then merge the pages. This is not a great solution, because it may take a very long time to remove or
Knowledge on the intranet is useless unless it can be trusted. In an intranet with tight central control, then intranet readers can be
There are two aspects to trust on the intranet - first, convincing a user that the content is trustworthy, and second, ensuring that their trust is well-placed. The two can be combined by not attempting to convince the user of anything, but instead giving them all the necessary information for them to make an informed judgment.
If I know about a subject, then it's not too hard for me to work out whether an article on that subject is trustworthy. I can compare it to my own experiences, and if what the article says agrees with my existing knowledge, then I'm inclined to trust the new information that I learn from the article.
If I don't know the subject, or don't know it well, then additional cues are necessary to establish trust. The customer book reviews at Amazon are an
A major influence on the perceived trustworthiness of a piece of information is its presentation. Simply by making sure that information is displayed in an
If the information is based on other sources: people, books, web sites, or whatever, then providing a link to those sources helps the reader establish trust. First of all, it lets them evaluate the information based on the trust that they place in its original source, and secondly, it allows them to obtain further information if that provided by the author is not sufficient.
The primary factor influencing whether we trust a piece of information is who
We've already mentioned that the
However, this doesn't go far enough to establish trust in a larger company, where I don't have first-hand knowledge of all the contributors to the intranet. I need more information about the author.
It would help establish trust if I can find other pages that they've contributed to the intranet,
A useful addition to the company address book is a section that can be edited by each employee, to which they can add biographical information, projects they have worked on, hobbies, or links to personal web sites. This can provide some of the context about the author that helps to build trust.
If the user has previously been disappointed by the accuracy and usefulness of what they found on the intranet, then it's going to be hard to convince them to use it again. Conversely, if they regularly obtain accurate information, then they're more likely to trust other pages from it.
For this reason, the quality of information obtained from the intranet should be obvious. This is not to say that all the information on the intranet should be thoroughly researched, checked, and evaluated by experts - even if the time needed for this approach was acceptable, then the cost
As described above, there needs to be a feedback mechanism in place so readers can rate pages, add comments to pages, and report inaccurate content. In addition to the benefits for increasing trust, adding a comment to a page is a good first step in becoming an intranet author.
If time or money precludes improving the quality of information on the intranet in the short-
Use templates and stylesheets to ensure that content is well laid out and well presented
Provide information on the relevance of content and how up-to-date it is
Ensure that authors provide links to their sources
Establish a feedback mechanism - it rewards authors, helps identify useful content, and helps to remove inaccurate or outdated content
Provide as much information as possible on page authors (biography, position in company, etc.)
Make it possible to directly contact the author
Keep the quality of the information on the intranet in general consistent
Build a clearly demarcated "walled garden" of quality content if it is not