Search and Destroy! Delete your way to intranet success

A great intranet helps people to connect, collaborate and create. We give employees tools to work together to produce content and documents, and to share that knowledge and output with the rest of the organisation. That’s a noble endeavour; all that collaborating and sharing makes people more productive and more effective.  Sharing is caring, right?

But what happens when all you do is add more? After a few years your intranet will be made up of thousands of documents. Users complain they can’t find anything.  Search just throws up a million results. Which one? They look the same? Can’t we just have one simple set of instructions? It’s so complicated!

Cluttered, outdated, duplicated, redundant, poorly structured, optimised content just causes problems and frustration. Every additional piece of content people create makes it slightly harder for users to find the thing they actually want. But a confusing and bloated mess is exactly what most intranets become.

The only way to avoid these problems is to approach destruction with as much enthusiasm as you do creativity.

Delete your governance

  • Delete unhelpful governance policies: Not all of it, but as much as you can so that it’s as clear as it can be. Then, strengthen your governance concerning  deletion: make it as difficult to keep anything as it is easy to create.
  • Delete unnecessary, unresponsive or uninterested stakeholders: OK, delete is strong. Remove them. Progress is hard, you need stakeholders to be useful. If they’re not proving their worth, get them off the project.
  • Delete most of your strategy: Don’t make your intranet support everything and everyone as you only end up doing nothing and going nowhere.  Pick what’s important and forget the rest. Focus.

Delete your content

  • Delete splash and welcome pages: People are trying to get to your content, they don’t need anything getting in the way. Remove content that just becomes barriers to what people need
  • Delete unused, duplicated or outdated sites and pages: Metrics are your friend. Constantly look for anything that isn’t current, relevant, useful and unique and get rid of it. In particular, look out for versions that might make it hard for someone to get to the latest materials.
  • Delete anything without a user purpose: Because, why would you keep it?
  • Delete half the words on every page, then delete half again: People don’t read online. At best they scan.  On average, people read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; 20% is more likely. 
  • Delete all but 25 of the words in every sentence of every pageSentences over 25 words are judged too complex, difficult to comprehend and unreadable. Keep to the 25 word rule to get information across quickly and in a way it can be fully understood.
  • Delete the profile pages or “MySites” of everyone who has left the company: It’s a common frustration – content that doesn’t reflect the current state of the organisation.  If someone leaves the company, have a process which quickly removes (or appropriately amends) that person’s profile.  Equally, make sure structure charts are updated to reflect current information.  Getting this wrong damages the trust people have in other content and ultimately lowers the value of your intranet overall.
  • Delete anything that isn’t linked up: If a page has become orphaned, there is a good chance its because it isn’t needed any more. Delete orphaned teamsites i.e. spaces owned exclusively by employees who have left the organisation.
  • Delete anything that doesn’t have an owner: If there isn’t anyone taking accountability for the content, then there is nobody to ensure its kept up to date. Equally, it means that there is nobody in place to remove it when its not needed anymore.

Delete code

  • Delete extraneous applications: Make it easy for people to get their work done.  Don’t confuse things with unhelpful, non-strategic or unsupported apps.
  • Delete your customisations: Complexity breeds cost and confusion.  Customisations make it more difficult to upgrade you platform, support your publishers, fix errors, migrate or audit content. Extraneous code slows down page load times so get rid and you’ll delight your mobile all users.
  • Delete the options to add or create anything that doesn’t support your strategy: Enforce your strategy through your platform, don’t rely on goodwill and a well read user base.  If people have the option, they probably will.

Top tip: Make sure you can undelete the deletes

Delete sounds like such a terminal phrase but it shouldn’t be.  In your rush to remove you might accidentally cause some damage and remove something important.  Make sure you can undo or restore your deletes. When considering deleting code, try this on beta or test versions of your intranet first.

Kill Content, Code and other crap for a better experience!

So don’t be shy of the delete key.  Fill your recycle bins today.  Maybe make it a regular celebration and share the fun with your publisher or content owner community?  Make Thursdays ‘deletion day’ and run competitions for the fullest bins.