Intranet content manifesto – 1st draft


Hey! The second draft is right here.

I’m planning the launch of our new intranet. I need to engage hundreds of people, perhaps thousands, to get them to see the intranet as a work tool, not as a company news channel. I’m slowly going to make everyone able to publish stuff – and of course our people are not writers or web workers – the intranet isn’t their passion as it is mine.

I say “I” when of course it’s a massive IT project with dozens of stakeholders, but I’m the intranet manager so it falls to me to put voice to many a matter.

Here’s my draft manifesto, to guide everyone who writes, publishes, comments, blogs, uploads or interacts with our new intranet system. Can you help me smooth it out? I haven’t edited this; I’ll come back to it over the days and weeks, but this really is a first draft straight from my brain-fingers into the computer.

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There must be a better way than Q&A (or, “I frequently hate FAQs”)

Communications, Design, Intranet

1. Why are business writers obsessed with the FAQ format?

I don’t know. Perhaps the FAQ format is so very easy to write; one covers all the concerns comprehensively, and it’s just so easy to think of a question and write the answer. It’s much harder to explain a subject in proper prose, spinning a narrative that moves a person’s understanding forward in a logical progression of facts and examples.

question-everything2. Are all FAQs made up of frequently asked questions?

Certainly not. Most FAQs are created from two distinct areas. The first area covers subjects and queries the author wished the audience cared about! Instead of writing engaging, perhaps even exciting copy to draw the reader into the subject, the author despairs and resorts to making up obvious questions. While these queries have never been voiced, they cover the subject fairly well. See FAQ 1 above.

The second area covered are real questions, but have only been asked once. Some of these queries are so random and specific even the most gullible reader will spot them for what they are.

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The disappearance of front page news – how do your readers find your intranet news stories?

Design, Intranet

News stories on my intranet ‘fall off‘ the front page after two days and ‘disappear’; at least as far as my readers are concerned. Here one day, gone the next.

news-ball“Did you see that article about our pay offer? No? Oh well, you missed it.”

With all my reading, all my research, all my networking, I have failed to discover or develop a better system than the ‘news archive‘.

News stories are presented on the front page of my intranet, but physically reside within a year, month and week structure. Think ‘folders in a folder’. Basic web design; basic information architecture: Intranet Home/News/2009/August/10 August

The News Archive holds stories from last week and way back to years before. I think it’s easy to get to because the breadcrumb trail is easy to use and lets people ‘go back in time’. I also provide a direct link to the News Archive section from the footer of every news story.

Yet, I’m wrong; the News Archive is not easy to find. People tell me that in all the years the intranet has been running, they’ve never seen the Archive.

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Jakob says social media has hit the intranet

Design, Intranet, Minutiae, Social Comms

You might guess from my previous intranet posts that I’m reflecting on the use of social media behind the firewall, within the intranet. Jakob Nielsen’s latest report comes a good time for me then, and there’s plenty for all of us to read and ruminate on.

While the focus of social media and Web 2.0 stuff might be wikis, blog comments, Twitter and social profiles, Jakob reminds us that getting stuff done isn’t about installing the latest tools on our infrastructure:

…organizations are successful with social media and collaboration technologies only when the tools are designed to solve an identified business need.
Jakob Nielsen

It all comes back to what problem are you trying to solve? What process would you like to improve?

If, like me, you’re a Twitter addict then all solutions seem to revolve around micro-blogging and status updates. When all you have is a hammer, everything starts looking like a nail… So Jakob reminds us that we must have a business need before we embark on a project to socialise the company, and I might remind myself that until I know what we want to achieve, I can’t go shopping for tools.

I very much suggest you read Jakob’s single web page and explore the links:


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