Thoughts from #ibf24

Intranets are strange beasts. Hidden behind the corporate firewall, they’re very often the practical hub of an organisation serving employee needs. Equally, as we learnt during @thoughtfarmer ‘s presentation, an intranet can be an ignored sink hole of woe. Optimised for Netscape 4.0 indeed …!

I enjoy events such as IBF24 as much for the official comment as the peripheral insight afforded through Twitter. Viewing other company intranets is an opportunity that many corporate intranet folks do not often receive and, frankly, they should grab it with both hands. Grab too some excellent ideas: Who could fail to be impressed with the Ernst and Young people networking graphical tool, or the slightly more achievable British Airways Outlook email signature creator? I’ll be including both in future developments.

A healthy debate was had on the subject of ‘beautiful intranets’, with many intranet examples presented to fuel the conversation. Beauty is a somewhat subjective quality, but with intranets, there must be a practical aspect to the description. An intranet is a place of work; it’s a place of transaction, communication, collaboration and engagement in varying degrees – I think ‘beauty’ is excellence in execution and efficiency in these four platforms. Naturally, there is an aesthetic element to the question, but aesthetic beauty over practical execution does not make for a good intranet.

To paraphrase William Morris, the 19th century British designer and writer “Have nothing in your intranet that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be useful and beautiful”. (As if Morris knew what an intranet was – original quote from The Beauty of Life)

(The award for the most beautiful intranet went to Intermón Oxfam, managed by Julia Serramitjana. In announcing the award, note was made of the clarity of function of the site as well as the use of pastel shades. A little flippantly, I did ask how a company might apply that pastel thinking when their brand is so clearly bright red as mine is. Consensus has it that bright is fine when applied as an accent rather than across a page. We might apply that thinking on the next design change)

I think the joy of events like #ibf24 is that it gets intranet managers out from behind the firewall. It was great virtually meeting so many of you — stay in touch.

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