Above average

Average intranet pages are OK

Much as I would like all intranet pages to be ‘perfect’, I find it useful to recognise four standards of intranet page.

Company-wide communications need to be perfect; our audience hates to see typos and silly mistakes in communiqués, and won’t tolerate incorrect details. As communicators, we probably ask our colleagues (on behalf of ‘the company’) to adhere to the brand guidelines and certain document control / security processes, so it would be trés gauche if we failed to stick to such standards ourselves.

Above averageBut does everything everywhere need to be perfect? Personally, I’d like to say ‘we can and should strive for excellence*‘ but on a sprawling, collaborative intranet, it’s just not practical, practicable or pragmatic.

Part-time intranet publishers

I’m decentralising our intranet; we’re modernising our online estate to become a business tool for (nearly) everyone. So, I have to accept that people who have no previous experience of online publishing and no real concept of ‘writing for an audience‘ will publish intranet web pages, blog articles, wikis and documents. People who have a ‘real day job‘ – people who think of communication / info sharing as a ‘bolt-on’ activity to be squeezed in at the end of the day, as quickly as possible. People who, frankly, have no passion for online communications and no understanding of the technology driving the intranet. Fair enough really.

With this in mind, I have to accept that some intranet pages will be created that don’t really conform to my expectations, when it comes to page format and writing style. I mean to support new publishers and offer guidance around writing and site structure of course, but our intranet will become a shared collaborative space, and I can’t think of it as my fiefdom** any more!

Four standards of intranet pages

Arguably defined by personal preferences, but I believe that ‘perfect‘ pages are well written and well laid out.

I would like every page to be perfect, but in reality, only front page articles and formal company pages need to be perfect.

I will write more about these sought after but perhaps mythological ‘perfect’ pages again soon.

Then there are ‘good‘ pages, and by good I mean very good indeed. After that we have the dubious delights of ‘good enough‘ pages. These often get published in some haste, perhaps in reaction to an urgent need.

Beyond that and we’re into ‘poor‘ territory. I’d like to think I’ve never published a poor page, but I’ve seen plenty. The point is, such poor pages should be improved soon, but it may well be necessary to publish them ‘as is’, to meet a need. Such is life, but poor pages should be marked for improvement, while ‘good enough’ pages may well survive for months and years in such a state.

Let me go through these four standards over the next ten days – so be sure to return :)


* But if I see another mission statement that says “we strive to deliver excellence” I shall tear it down! Just how does one ‘deliver excellence’? In a bucket?

** Don’t pretend to be shocked that I might once have considered the intranet my fiefdom! When you’re the only person who can update the intranet, it’s easy to become protective over it, and it’s easy to stick to standards.

Photo credit: massdistraction

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  1. “Letting go” is all part of the “grieving” process. I was in a situation similar to yourself some years ago.

    But then I realised that if people didn’t adhere to the standards we’d laid down, and there is no resource to monitor those standards, then I was no longer going to sweat the small stuff.

    It worked.

    Whenever people flag to me issues with content on webpages, I point them to the owner, who’s name is at the bottom of every page. But to be honest, not many folks come directly to me. So either they’re contacting the right people, or they don’t care about whether the content is any good or not. Or, of course, our standards are so high and being rigorously met, that the problem doesn’t exist in the first place!

    That usually sorts it – one way or the other, but it means I don’t bogged down with poorly produced sites and can concentrate on the wider strategic issues. As much as I’d like to be involved in the detail, and I need to at times, I simply don’t have the time to give it as much attention as I’d like.

    So, when you’ve lost a partner, and you still harbour feelings for them, sometimes it’s time to just let go, whist occasionally reminiscing of those good times!

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