Monday, March 02, 2015

Tips for Corporate Websites and Intranets

I'm lecturing to an undergraduate class this week on careers in the design and management of corporate websites and intranets. Having worked in the area for over eleven years, it's a subject I am quite familiar with.

I asked my colleagues on social media what their tips are for having an effective corporate website or intranet site and the skills required to work in this field. Their advice was so useful, I wanted to share it here.

So here are tips from industry professionals:
1) To have a truly successful site, one has to listen to the site's users. You can make a beautifully designed site, but if people have difficulty doing what they need to do, they will be very frustrated. In the case of intranets, you could see people abandoning it altogether. I have seen it happen many times. This is where user experience (UX) testing comes in. Learning UX methods translate to other areas of work as well, so are extremely useful to learn.
2) User experience is all clients talk about and not just with Web, but with every touch point.
3) It is not enough just to put a shiny new technology in place. Need to look at users, content, processes and governance. So many business leaders think it is enough to put new technology in place to get improvements. But if you don't look at improving processes, cleaning up content and meeting user needs, it just ends up being "garbage in/garbage out". Also on the people side, need to think about change management. Again, culture will override any other strategy work.
4) Technology is a complement and a facilitator of proper business process not a cure-all. Technology cannot change the way a business works...only a culture change can do that.
5) True business leaders have to buy in [to new online efforts], but they also need to actively champion it throughout the software cycle. If the company senses the leadership is not behind they will not cooperate. I find that [staff] users are threatened by the efficiences that technology will bring. In companies with entrenched cultures and attitudes, users will not give the information or co-operate with the process to make technology work. This goes hand in hand with poor business processes and people protecting their jobs.
And finally a short but invaluable tip:
Under promise, over deliver.

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