I saw one of the best definitions of an intranet as “what the employees experience” earlier this month. The point that Stephen Fishman was making, and poignantly so, was that it doesn’t really matter where the tools are, your average employee doesn’t distinguish between portals, benefit centers, wikis, and whether it’s a platform, suite, mash up, or other option.
The “intranet” is very much an IT-created concept and the more we focus on user experience and design, the better off everyone is.
As Google Apps proliferate across small and medium sized businesses, across education, non profit, and for profit businesses, and even in some larger enterprises, there’s a real question of whether Google Sites can stand up to traditionally defined “intranet” projects.
To dig in, I connected with a Google Sites expert from Kirksville Web Design, Kyle Horst, to get the scoop on how he’s worked with clients recently to meet their intranet needs with a combination of Google Apps.
When faced with the task of building an intranet – or really solving any kind of collaboration/information sharing challenges – most people look for big sweeping solutions. Bad idea. Start your journey by looking at what’s already working and replicate it like bees. The trick, of course, is finding the “bright spots.”
Supporting the Connectors
Some people are better than others at finding bright spots, but there are simple steps you can take to support those who are already good at it and become better at it yourself. Be careful of just going to the people who have the most followers or who posted the most on your leaderboards. Start with the intended audience – who needs to be involved and engaged – and work backward. Some questions you can ask:
- what are the commonalities of the roles between the intended user?
- who provides support to these end users?
- what existing structures connect these people?
- how else do these people communicate and get in touch?
You don’t need to hire a consultant. Take charge!
There are many reasons not to use Google Sites for your intranet. Maybe you have an intranet already, maybe you want (need?) java applications for some complicated business application and custom builds. Maybe you want lots and lots social features built right into the page. But maybe not. Maybe you want a flexible, easy to use, easy to share, content management system that is free (for many, cheap for all) and ready to use out of the box.