Tools & Technologies

Developing a New SharePoint 2010-based Intranet

(Some notes from yesterday afternoon. The presenter asked for "pre-publication" review.)
The next presenter is talking about his work with delivering a new intranet at his organization. The technology is SharePoint 2010. He asked me to be deliberately vague in my blog notes, so as not to identify the organization. I've tried to extract the rich ideas from what he said. The work below took about 11 months, with 6 people on the core project team, plus various other technical staff and business people.

Key points:
– he showed some pictures of the early intranet – using legacy products. In 2010/2011, went for SharePoint 2010.
– key principles –
– … (1) user centric design
– … … the vision – to "create an intranet that helps people to do their job."
– … … need to do workplace observation. What people describe what they do, and what they actually do, are quite disparate. So you have to watch.
– … … they used persona to understand users, and their needs. They developed seven personas in total – and were able to tie their work back to what these people were doing. Trying to get away from, "your opinion, although interesting, is irrelevant." They keep your honest.

– … … put users at the heart of every decision. Create things that deliver the most impact.
– … … wireframes were also useful. They help prevent bad layout, because you can design the bad ideas out. Even simple sketches can help focus on the decisions early on. Wireframes can be tested against the personas, and their needs.

– … … usability testing is helpful – as you test with more users, you'll find more problems. Need to get to 9-15 people to find most usability problems. Lesson – you are best to run smaller usability initiatives, reiterate the design, and then test again – as opposed to doing a big usability test.

– … (2) design styling – why does the intranet look so bad?
– … … using some of the ideas above helps address this.
– … … using mega-menus (big flow-out menus) off the top of the screen. Helped people find things easier – to get an "at-a-glance" sense of where to look for things.
– … … are using multi-media more, especially for technical information. It's often easier to describe something using a video, than writing a paper.
– … … have integrated profiles into the intranet, and link with presence from Sametime.
– … … have used as much standard SharePoint functionality as possible. Didn't want to pay the upgrade pain / tax in the future. BUT – deliberately tried to make it look not like SharePoint.
– … … user's expectations are changing – "they expect the comprehesiveness of, with the speed of Google, and the beauty of Apple."
– … (3) search – it was a key driver for the intranet project
– … … problem – you have to be at the firm for about 5 years before you know who to ask. Is there a way to use the intranet to make that work faster?
– … … did some work around this – for profiles, and more.
– … … able to find relevant physical places for staff.
– final point – it's been a team effort. It's been great to work with an excellent team.

Categories: Tools & Technologies