Even if you’re a seasoned intranet professional, there’s always something you haven’t heard before. Sometimes, the very nature of the intranet (being internally focused and heavily customized to your corporate culture) lends itself to being cut off from the outside world. I read an article recently called 12 Workplace Phrases You Probably Don’t Know…But Should. Many of the phrases are applicable to the intranet world and are worth repeating. Below are a few of the phrases the authors listed, but I added my own thoughts on how they apply to intranets.

Holistic: No matter what you’re doing with your intranet – redesigning, building, planning, maintaining – you must always keep the big picture in mind. That means taking into consideration things like the number of users affected, other practice groups involved, resources you might need, time for development and testing, other projects happening simultaneously, the external website and any duplication of effort or content, etc. Look at everything around you – this is what a “holistic” approach means.

Running in parallel: If you’re developing something new for your intranet, it’s always good to keep the old system around for a period of time, even if it’s just as a backup. I’m not saying that you should allow people to use both old and new for very long, but running in parallel until the new system is stable is a good idea.

Use Case: These are critical for intranets when developing something new and testing. Use cases are documented situations that explain a specific situation to follow in order to determine if the solution will meet the needs. You should write multiple use cases for various situations in order to thoroughly review the solution.

Wireframe: Wireframes are especially helpful for intranets when you are in the beginning stages of a new design. They are simple pictures to show your developers how you’d like the screen to look. They should be low-tech and low-cost. Draw a picture, if you must! Creating wireframes is a way to ensure that the project is programmed they way you envision.

Now here are a few more phrases you should know that I’m adding to the intranet list:

User-centered design: Involving users in every phase of an intranet project enables the team to effectively prioritize features and functions, select the right tools and design the most efficient ways to accomplish tasks online. During each phase of development it is critical to engage, involve and interact with users. Asking basic questions and documenting findings will enable the team to make better decisions throughout the project.

Needs assessment: Exploring they way things are in the current intranet is critical, as well as determining where things should be. An assessment in my mind is different than an evaluation, which occurs after the fact. You might be locating gaps, assigning priorities, finding causes and identifying solutions. Again, intranet end users are critical to finding this information, so involve them early in the process.

Do you have some intranet phrases of your own to add to the list? If so, I’d love to hear them!


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