Time for some intranet tough love as we take a look at those intranet features you should really avoid. If any of these ideas genuinely came up in your intranet user research, please take a long hard look at your colleagues and consider leaving. If you’ve put them in your scope documents, hang your heads in shame!
1. The weather: You do not need the weather on your corporate intranet. It is significantly quicker and more accurate to simply ask employees to look out of the window for this piece of news. If you want to know the weather in different office, please instant message someone.
2. World clock: You don’t really need to know the time in another office that much for it to warrant valuable real estate on your homepage. Please ask employees to add or deduct a pre-defined number of hours from the system clock which the good people at Apple or Microsoft have placed in the top-right or bottom-right respectively.
3. Empty social activity feeds: Social functionality is not salvation to your communication and collaboration ills and the functionality itself, is only half the battle. A social feature with no comments is intranet pathos. You’re best off removing it—no need to remind your colleagues that the company spirit is dead.
4. Email widget: Email! Wow, there’s an app for that! But if you can’t find enough compelling content and services to fill up your front page, why not take up half the page with Outlook inbox and tasks? You do most of your internal communications via email anyway, don’t you?
5. Links to (and feeds from) lots of external sites: You’re on the edge of throwing in the towel here, aren’t you? You need your intranet to be good enough so employees want to stay. Failing that (and let’s face it, most intranets do), you need to force your employees to stay and read the CEO blog. Yes, yes, I know they can type a new address in the address bar, but really, don’t make it too easy for them by providing them links to Sky Sports or the BBC. At least ensure all but the smartest stay put.
6. Animated gifs: Never. Don’t even think about it. While we’re at it, I never want to see ‘under construction‘ images—don’t spend time putting these up, spend time fixing the page.
7. Photo of the day: Why tell people something they might actually need to know, when, alternatively, you could show them a nice picture of a giraffe (ironic hyperlink) that Melanie from Accounts took on holiday? If your other content is less important than Mel’s photos, then you shouldn’t even have an intranet.
8. A daily Dilbert cartoon: Hello? What year is this?
9. A whole-page page-viewer: So you want to give your employees access to the travel booking site mm? Page within page within a page? Clumsy, complicated. Please try hyperlinks, invented in 1965.
10. Icons: Why use an unambiguous word to describe something on your intranet page when you could use a 16 by 16 pixel square icon requiring your employees to squint and guess what the content section is, like some corporate game of Pictionary.
11. Logins: There is simply no excuse for ever seeing a login screen anywhere on your intranet. You’ve already signed into your laptop, you’ve authenticated on to the corporate network—hell, you’ve even swiped your way through security doors to get to your desk. They already know who you are. Logins are the sign of a poor budget or lazy coding—single sign on is an absolute necessity.
12. Click here: Despite some commentators trying to make the case for the legitimacy of click here links, in truth, there’s absolutely no excuse for them. Such links are lazy and possibly even illegal (see our accessibility section on our 10 laws post). Treat yourself, use a unambiguous, meaningful hyperlinks.
13. The word ‘welcome’: Is the intranet really something people need to be ‘welcomed’ to? really? Every time they visit? On every site?
14. Word of the Day widget: If you have one of these, the word is obviously “procrastinate.”
The summary confessional
Time to confess: We’ve all been guilty of delivering some of the features and we expect you have too. They’re all too common. We’ve seen them on award-winning intranets and those marked out as being ‘beautiful’, but it’s time to say no!
Have you done any of these? What other intranet faux-pas should we have included?
A version of this article first appeared on Intranetizen.
This article ran on Ragan.com in May 2014.