Thursday, June 21, 2007

Intranet and portal personalisation

Step Two Designs, through their KM Column, have published two new articles around intranet and portal personalisation.

James Robertson - Personalisation vs Segementation and
Catherine Grenfell - Do staff make use of personalisation features?

Catherine's article reports on a survey Step Two did around personalisation features of intranets and portals.

The results illustrate that:

  • adoption of personalisation is far from guaranteed, the survey shows that no
    significant spike of usage at the high end of acceptance
  • personalisation includes bookmarks, portlets/dashboard elements, news and
    documents
  • management perception of personalisation benefits is a key factor
    in getting a personalisation project off the ground
  • technology available within the organisation has a significant impact on an
    organisation's ability to deliver personalisation
  • measurement of adoption and effectiveness of personalisation is undertaken
    by fewer than 20% of respondents

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Intranet branding

Garth Buchholz at Digital Web Magazine has written an article on 'Intranbranding: why your intranet needs its own personality'.

I'm generally a fan of branded intranets except I've found that there are lots of cheesy names out there. The ones I dislike the most tend to be names of people created from acronyms. Sure intranets need 'personalities' but they aren't people .

My organistion is currently looking at a similar process noty sure of what will come out of that.
Being at a University the scepticism and cynicism level is extreme.

I read a very intersting article/textbook on branding names sometime back and it oulined a history of brand name development. Early 20c it was family names i.e Ford, later abbreviations were popular IBM, then the 70's, 80's techy names i.e Microsoft then in the 90's and the 00's the web opened up names that meant nothing about the company or product... Yahoo!, Google, Bebo, De.li.cio.us etc etc .

Have the names and brands of intranets also evolved? Have we moved on from the ubiquitous something -'net' to the little direct association names? The company in-jokes?

Anyway a quote from Garth's article:

By creating an IntraBrand for the intranet you:

  • Give design elements a site-wide consistency, creating a
    strongly unified look and feel—this develops a sense of teamwork and
    equality among different departments.
  • Create a dynamic identity and community for the workforce.
    Even if elements of the intranet include prominent corporate messaging, goals,
    etc., this is the employees‘ environment, and if they don’t use the site, it
    quickly diminishes in value.
  • Define the intranet’s main objectives and intended use.
    Intranet branding can help communicate to employees how the organization expects them to use it, and what they can use it for.
  • Provide a benefit to current and prospective employees. An
    intranet that has an integrated social networking value will appeal to new
    generations of employees whose internet experiences have made them expect
    higher standards from web communities.
  • Build a permanent foundation for employees. An intranet’s
    lifespan can extend even further than the careers of many employees. While
    the organization itself may be buffeted by external forces, be restructured,
    or even be sold to another corporation, the intranet may provide a sense of
    stability and community.


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Global intranet survey

Jane McConnell is now running the 2007 version of The Global Intranet Strategies Survey. The previous survey has been well received the world over.
The study is designed to understand how intranets are being used in
organisations that fulfill one of the following three characteristics:
large, global, complex.

The survey profiles the participating organisations and identifies issues, approaches and trends. All participants receive the standard which includes analysis by NetStrategy/JMC.

Participants are invited to contribute ideas and topics for the survey
of the following year.


The survey is open until the 15th of August.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Content management requirements and vendor sales jobs

A lot has been written about Content management System (CMS) requirements and working out the best CMS for your organisation. I don't waat to rehash any of that stuff.

What I want to highlight and rant about right now are issues with vendors and the salesmanship of solutions.

My organisation is in a position to work with a local vendor for a CMS which provides the tool to a number of large organisations of similar type and is now supplying their CMS internationally.

In theory working closely with a CMS vendor means you can get functionality built into upgrades and hopefully get bugs and other issues resolved painlessly. In practice I'd take an out of box solution that has been fully tested, anytime. Or open source when at least you can understand when things don't work.

Things to consider when talking or working with vendors about CMS solutions (so you don't have to deal with it after the fact) :

  • Just because they say 'Yes it can do that' does not mean 'Yes it can do that' :)
  • Remember vendors are software salespeople and software developers. They are not web content people, or intranet mangers etc etc. A very important point to keep in mind.
  • Focus on key functionality and not get distracted by the whizz bang in their Marketing material.
  • Be concerned if your vendor thinks making big Flash applications increase'Accessibility'. They need to understand basic Accessibility issues and the increasing comliance issues arising in many countries.
  • Don't specify it can handle HTML in your requirements and/or RFP. All CMS's can handle 'some' HTML. Specify a standard of HTML or XHTML. i.e. must meet HTML 4.0 validated standard. This'll keep you away from dreaded proprietary tags and a situation where basic HTML tags do not work or are rendered incorrectly.
  • No matter what they say you are likely not to need 'a dynamic enterprise 2.0 collaborative Flash Application development environment' before getting an edit function that works.
  • Be concerned that they test/and or develop in Firefox but fundamental functionality doesn't work in Firefox...
  • Check Accessibility and Usability- not just of the output but of the tool itself. My vendor just tried to sneak a Flash based tool bar into the application. For no reason whatsover except they are on a Flash 'bender' at the moment.
  • 10 steps to get to page editing is TOO much. Make it a single click from an actual page or a 3 step process max. anything else will suck time from your authors. if they can't do this find something taht does. There are many.
  • Beware of 'Search Engine Marketing' functionality. My vendor is selling an SEO tool (as part of an updrade) to manage meta keywords across a site. Problem is Google does not use meta keywrods for anything thus the tool is useless. Simply write good serach engine content (see forthcomiung post on good SEO.)
  • If you want your vendor to do real fixes you'll likely have them more money. Like builders pay them AFTER they've done it properly.
  • Don't let IT manage the process. It is a tool for Content authoring and content management.
  • Make sure end-users are the key focus of any developent or RFP.
  • You have lot's of choice. Don't get blinded by technology preferences or some sort of misguided jingoistic worldview.
  • Be concerned if the vendor keeps ignoring basic user requirements and help and keeps developing uneeded new functionality. Tell them to fix what they've already created first.

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