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An #Intranet Users Charter

While every intranet will differ in functionality and design based on the needs and culture of the business it serves, we can’t pretend our intranets exist in isolation. Our users spend the majority of time on other sites, many of them very good ones. They know a good site from a bad one, and that shapes what they expect of the intranet too.

It’s time intranet managers woke up and smell the coffee. Our users expect our sites and services to be as good as the ones they use all the time. We’ve developed this Intranet Users Charter, a series of promises from you and your team to the folks who use the intranet every day. Each intranet will differ but these statements should hold true, at least as an aspiration,  for any company.

The 10 Point Intranet Users Charter

1. Consistent: Regardless of device, location or job grade you will be able to get access to the key tools you need to do your job at all times. We promise ubiquitous, uniform access. The user experience through to third-party applications will be maintained.

2. Easy to Understand: Policies will be in plain English or equivalent and be no more than 1 page long. You need to be able to read it so that you can adhere to the detail and spirit. We know long documents are rarely read and rarely understood.

3. Clear: We will have no repetition of information in multiple formats such as an intranet page, powerpoint or pdf. We will make it as simple as possible for you to know you have the right document.

4. Accurate: You can rely on the information you find to be accurate and current.

5. Simple: Materials will be stored together — transaction and reference policy in the same place for example — so that you don’t have to hunt down the information you need.

6. Flexible: This is is your work tool, you have the freedom to use it an the ways that help you most. We will provide self-provisioning tools and personalisation options so you can make these tools work better for you.

7. Evolving: The intranet will get better over time; new features will come online in response to your changing needs or feedback. The intranet won’t be frozen in time at the point it was when the intranet launched. The company evolves, your needs evolve, the intranet will evolve too.

8. Protected: While you are working within the intranets terms of use, you will be protected from any misuse, victimisation, bullying or any other activities which may adversely effect you.

9. Transparent: Any inaccuracies, feedback, suggestions, complaints or comments will be taken seriously and acted upon in an appropriate and timely manner. You can track our progress.

10. Secure: Your use of the intranet and the content you store on it will remain private and will not be disclosed without your agreement for any purposes other than in connection to the investigation of serious wrongdoing or in the process of improving your intranet experience.

Discussion Point

How does your intranet shape up against our Intranet Users Charter? Plenty (including all of ours) don’t, but in a world where most people are savvy, experienced web users too, they’re perfectly reasonable demands. It might be that these are more visionary given where you are in your own intranet journey, but we feel there’s nothing wrong in having something for you, your colleagues and organisation to aspire to. It’s time we upped our game.

What do you think? What promises do you make to your users?

There are 7 comments

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  1. Patrick Callaghan

    Thanks for this useful list. I agree with 9 of your 10, but don’t agree entirely with number 3. Yes, intranets should be clear, but I can think of very good reasons why you might want to offer PDF and powerpoint versions of (largely) the same information. We read websites online, so they need to be formatted for online reading; we may also want to print and share more detailed information, which is where PDF comes in; and we may want to make a presentation on the information.

    It”s important that users understand why multiple versions of information are available, and which one they should use in a variety of scenarios, but I would use caution in suggesting this variety of formats should never be offered to intranet users.

  2. @danaleeson

    I think this Intranet Users Charter may capture the demands of our users, but are these realistic given the restrictions of intranet teams (time, budget, resource)?

    I know many organisation, like myself, don’t have intranet teams to help achieve these 10 points, unlike the other members of Intranetizen, and we have to make due with our resources and restrictions. Some of these points are not realistic and no matter how much we want to implement the 10 points above we simply can’t.

    I would love to know what other intranet managers (of small teams) think of this list? Is this something they are already doing? Is this something they dream of? Or is there an adapted list of realistic demands that can be delivered?

    • @DigitalJonathan

      Dana’s quite right. For example, the idea that third-party applications should share a consistent UI with your intranet is highly desirable but would cost millions to implement fully.

      I see this charter as either practical and achievable or aspirational and visionary depending on your organisation and intranet maturity.

  3. Patrick Callaghan

    Dana, if it helps from my perspective I think it helps to have these ambitions, with the caveat in my first reply. Or at least, to have some ambitious targets. I think my intranet currently does three of the ten, but we’d like to stretch ourselves, so I alrready have targets for several others. If you see it as a shopping list of aspiration for your users I think it stands up well, even if you work under severe resource constraints. You never know what technology or other changes may help you complete some of these more easily than you currently think possible.

  4. Neil

    I think you also need to slip in accessible, as in meets normal web standards. Ubiquitous and uniform might not be readable to (for instance) as visually impaired user.

    I’d also consider ‘searchable’,,’up to date’,’simple’ (could extend to Plain Language), ‘attributable’ < as in "who the hell owns this page?" and 'editable', as in, this is 2013, (within reason) I should at least be able to propose changes and see who approves/rejects.

    P.S. I agree with Patrick on 3. Information should be available and manipulatable in the format of your choice. I'd like an obvious single source of truth though.

  5. Rebecca Jackson

    An intranet charter is a nice idea. I like that it is a balance to intranet governance. Governance tends to be very rules based and about the expectations of staff, this is about expectations of the intranet team and a promise to staff.

    We don’t have anything like this in practice currently but I would like to incorporate the charter idea into the governance with our new intranet. It would be something I would tweak with stakeholders to ensure it meets our particular needs and circumstances but the fundamentals are great.

  6. Wm. Amurgis

    Nice list.

    It reminds me of Jakob Nielsen’s ideology:

    (1) The right of employees to be superior to technology. If there’s a conflict between technology and employees, then technology must change.

    (2) The right of empowerment. Employees should understand what’s happening and be capable of controlling the outcome.

    (3) The right to simplicity. Employees should get their way with computers without excessive hassle.

    (4) The right of employees to have their time respected. Awkward interfaces waste valuable time.

    (For the full article, see: http://www.nngroup.com/articles/usability-empiricism-or-ideology/ )

    If I had to add to the list, two attributes come to mind: Attractive (through beauty, fun, or relevance, give people a reason to tune in) and Valuable (quantify the intranet’s positive impact and alignment with business objectives).

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