It’s back: 10 more signs you’re losing the intranet plot

As intranets evolve into fully mobile, functioning digital workplaces, we’re discovering a whole bunch more ‘features’ that we find downright horrible! We’ve already presented 24 signs you’re losing the plot (14 signs, 10 signs, we did the maths ourselves) but we’ve discovered yet more signs you’re losing the intranet plot. How guilty are you?

1. Carousels

Take one important feature of your intranet, squash it all up into a graphical javascript feature that means folks have to wait for the bit that they want to see. Sounds good doesn’t it. Imagine doing that with your HR self-service functionality, or your activity feed items? You wouldn’t because you need employees to get quick easy access, so why do it with news? Let’s face it: no one reads more than the first story and the movement is distracting. Stop it. More on nasty carousels here.

2. Separate news sections

A local news section for local people, one for global news (for the uber-connected ambitious types), an HR news section maybe for those employees who want to catch up on the crazy going-ons. Content structure based on organisational hierarchies is very last century. Stop making your employees guess which news bit the article they want might appear in. News is news, batch it up into one section. Thanks muchly. More on intranet news here.

3. Intranets that are only available inside the company firewall

You’re a little concerned about the security eh? Bit worried that people might copy and paste the content and so giving them unfettered access would be dangerous. A word to the wise: you should count yourself extremely fortunate if you have employees that feel your content is worthy of sharing! Work is not a place, it’s a verb. Give them access anywhere. PS. The Cold War has ended, mobile phones exist. See “Not compatible with …”

4. Multiple profile pages

If you’ve got a heterogenic intranet comprising a patchwork of technologies, then there’s a chance you’ve got a myriad of profile pages. That’s pretty normal and pretty unforgivable. How do you expect your employees to maintain these multiple profiles? How do you expect others to understand what the definitive profile is? Harmonise these quickly, or at the very least, remove as many of the erroneous profile links as you can.

5. Social in a sidebar

At least you’ve switched on social, but if these features sit in a widget, isolated from the rest of your content or transactions, then you’ve still a long old way to go. Social in a sidebar ain’t the same as a fully social intranet and you’re still a Gulliver leap from working in a social enterprise.

6. “Not compatible with…” browser statements

On the one hand, we applaud your honesty. If a site doesn’t work well in Chrome, it’s probably best to warn your users but it’s the underlying sentiment that concerns us. In these days of increasing deregulation of IT, you can and should expect your employees to use any device, anywhere, any time to access your intranet and that includes the browser that you say your site doesn’t play nicely with. Spend less time putting this message up and more time fixing the incompatibilities please.

7. My favourites

A sub-category of a aforementioned heinous intranet crime, but one worth calling out for special ridicule. Why these features exist when browsers have their own bookmark facility is beyond us and beyond your employees too. Make it simple and buy yourself more digital real estate by removing  it.

8. Picture(s) of your CEO

You think a photo of your CEO on an article is akin to tagging it ‘important, interesting, strategic‘ but they think ‘dull, dull, dull‘. Employees are using this photo as a stunning visual indicator of the stories to avoid. And why is it nearly always the same photo you use?

9. Quick links

Vamoosh! You’re setting yourself up for a fall.

10. Videos

We accept that we won’t have everyone nodding sagely with this choice, but increasingly, using video on your intranet seems like a lazy, stupid choice to us. Yes yes, visual communication can be really powerful, but so many of your senior execs who tend to appear in these cash-draining interludes, are just not cut out for the medium. They also are near on impossible to view and hear in an open plan office and very costly to view on a mobile phone. More on intranet video here.

Guilty as charged your honour

Not only are the Intranetizen team guilty of providing some of these ‘features’, we’re also guilty of gross hypocrisy by publishing this article. Are you squeaky clean? What other terrible intranet crimes have you seen?


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There are 7 comments

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  1. Dan Hawtrey

    What about ‘message from our leader’ boxes with blah blah text talking about ‘our intention’, a ‘one stop shop’ and ‘information and resources’ to….yawn. I still see these and I cringe every time. But it’s one of the toughest intranet crimes to eradicate because the leaders themselves write them and want them. And guess what? They also pay for the intranet. Solution? Make them small and squash em into the bottom right corner.

    • @DigitalJonathan

      Well Dan, you’ve just started writing the next instalment of ‘Signs you’re losing the plot’ ! Another 15 and we have a book!

  2. Michael Loader

    There is a very good reason for My Favourites. Employees who work in a call centre, retail storefront, or back office will likely use multiple computers. They don’t want to have to set up browser favourites on every computer they use. They should be able to add favourites to their Intranet home page so that they’re always available on every computer. It’s not just for frontline employees — knowledge workers who use Citrix are sometimes frustrated by not having access to their favourites over Citrix. And mobile workers like having access to the same favourites on their phone, tablet, and computer. Home page favourites address all three of these use cases.

    • @DigitalJonathan

      A few years ago, I would have agreed with you but with Chrome, Safari and IE10, browser favourites can be synched wherever you log in, including on mobile devices. For this reason, I call intranet favourites a redundant feature (or a duplicate waste of dev money at best)

      • Michael Loader

        Keep in mind that many large corporations are still on XP with older versions of IE and cloud synching services are usually blocked.

        • @lukemepham

          “many corporations are still on XP with old IE versions” – I think thats one for the ‘signs you’re loosing the corporate IT plot’ list 😉

  3. Nic Kerkhofs

    Guilty of #1 and #8 (thankfully!). Next to our never-changing picture of the CEO are links to his fortnightly “catch up” letters, which he emails to the whole company anyway, so what’s with the duplication? Sigh…

    On the topic of crime #7, we ran some user testing a year or so ago and we were told (in no uncertain terms) that users wanted their own “My Favourites”, which I agree is a particularly heinous request. If we give it to the users, it will just take up valuable homepage real estate & chances are they still won’t even use it because it’ll be “too hard” or whatever excuse they can come up with for their laziness at having to learn a new thing.

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