Fw: Intranet Project Advice

Subject: Fw: Intranet Project Advice
From: Richard Wrye <rwrye -at- GATE -dot- NET>
Date: Tue, 23 Dec 1997 16:04:34 -0500

Joe,
You need to insert yourself into this project ASAP. I almost had the same
problem here.

A VP in the development area started an Intranet Task Force because our
Standards Board chose to put all the programming and methodology standards
on an Intranet instead of Lotus Notes.

STEP 1: Get into the Task Force or at least get approval to attend a few
meetings.
He wanted to expand on that and get all the departments in the division to
put sites on the Intranet and get all our internal, training, HR,
programming, etc. information out there so everyone can find it when they
need it. Also, Customer Support will be setting up an FAQ database on their
site to improve their searching.

Well, I saw from the start (especially after talking with someone that
attended the Standards Board committee) that if we left style and standards
up to them, nothing would be consistent and nobody would use it.

STEP 2: Stand up for consistency.
I simply made my case to the Task Force for consistency in style,
navigation, background, typography, etc. Some were sticklers, at first,
about not wanting to stifle creativity and letting each site be unique.

STEP 3: Let them do a little their way and politely suggest alternatives and
explain why you would do it a different way.
I told them to stay away from frames for stuff they knew users to be able to
print. They fought it until I told them to bring up the site and print the
info. When the navigation tree in the left frame printed a few times, they
saw the light. They agreed to let me and a few other people sit down and
decide on the design and standards for the Intranet.

We standardized on a common navigation header, similar to Apple and
Microsoft. This gives users a common bar on EVERY site that takes them to
the same areas of every site and back to the main areas no matter where they
are. People thought this was great because they don't get lost.

STEP 4: Survey the users.
You need to enforce consistency in most everything. We established
"Guidelines" instead of "Standards" for most things. Use a sans serif font
(easier to read online), design for the most common resolution (we did a
survey on a Lotus Notes form that automatically read the OS, resolution, and
PC configuration (486/Pentium) for every PC that was used to take the
survey), and made graphic size recommendations. We suggested a convention
for bookmarks and returns to the tops of pages, backgrounds, point sizes for
text and headings, you name it!!

I think that's enough to get you started. The first step you need to take is
to insert yourself in the project somehow. Our Pubs dept. VP saw it as a
chance for us to assert ourselves and really show everyone in the company
what a valuable resource we are that what we do takes a vast skillset.

I hope I have helped you out. Incidentally, I am now the "unofficial"
project lead of our Intranet effort. I am hoping the project will remain my
responsibility and the title will become official soon. But, there is a
resource issue (we need approval for a new person to do my current job so I
can focus on the Intranet development). We are now going to focus on getting
Training, HR, and Customer Service up on the Intranet.

Good luck!
Richard Wrye
ALLTEL Information Services
Jacksonville, FL
rwrye -at- gate -dot- net


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