An informal research activity involving the accessing of information from published resources and non-published sources.
This document records findings from the intranet best practice analysis activity conducted by the IA Strategy project team in the Web Domain Group, Department of Human Services. The best practices outlined in this document will be used as a reference point for the project team to help ensure the work produced by the IA Strategy project meets recognised best practices in the intranet sector.
While this document was produced with the DHS intranet in mind, it could serve as a useful reference for other government departments and associated bodies.
A summary of the best practices identified in this document is below:
Internet versus intranet design
It is best practice to design and manage intranets and internets differently because they have different purposes, audiences and information.
A usability evaluation study of a current intranet should be conducted prior to changing an intranet in preparation for future benchmarking.
A user-centred approach should be adopted to ensure the intranet is easy and efficient to use for all users.
A continued program of user testing should be planned to ensure ongoing intranet success and quality.
Design best practices
One unified intranet is preferable to several intranet sites.
Intranet homepages should be carefully balanced between business and user needs.
It should be easy for users to access the intranet when they are not at their regular computer.
Generally it is best to avoid users having to log-in to an intranet (except when security or personalisation are important).
Intranets should be structured in a user-friendly way to help users find information quickly and easily.
Intranet personalisation should be considered with caution (one situation where personalisation may be helpful is when an organisation is trying to move from several intranets to one).
Similarly, intranet customisation should be approached with caution. Of the myriad customisation features possible, link customisation is the more beneficial one.
Forms on an intranet should be located in one, central place and extensively cross-linked with related intranet content. Users should be able to find forms by searching and by browsing by topic or function.
If videos are used, these should be short(less than 3 minutes) and should display the date, length, a description, captioning (for accessibility compliance) and information about the presenter and links to references made in the video.
An intranet should list all of the organisation’s job vacancies (internal and external) and ideally allow intranet users to apply online.
The employee directory is very often the most popular intranet feature. This is not necessarily true for organisations which provide an employee directory search within another system such as MS Outlook or Lotus Notes.
An effective intranet search is essential to an intranet. There is a strong relationship between intranet search effectiveness and content quality.
An intranet “killer app” (an application that fulfils a general need at the organisation) can help drive users to an intranet. An employee directory is the most common intranet killer app.
Governance and Management Best Practices
A successful intranet needs the appropriate staff and resources so they can research, develop and produce.
The group the intranet reports to is important in helping reflect the intranet’s role in an organisation.
Intranet team members should include people with a broad range of skills such as development, IT, usability, design, writing, editing and management skills.
Upper-level management should communicate the intranet’s goals and key themes, and then give the intranet team the flexibility they need to create an intranet that achieves them.
It is important to sufficiently promote an intranet to help ensure its success. Promoting the intranet can help employees learn more about the site and use it more effectively