Organizations go through continuous changes: people, resources, technology, processes, compliance and legal obligations. Continuous evolvement is reflected across all departments to serve better customers, collaborate with partners/ vendors, and compete with competitors.
When new customer (CRM), learning (LMS), data or content (CSM) platforms are introduced internally, employees receive training how to use these systems to perform their tasks. There is an explanation to most questions new users have using the new technology.
However, there is often no easy answers when employees can’t find the information they wrote, edited or collaborated with others at the firm. This is a frequently reported business pain point we hear about from those who create information and those who consume it and need it to perform their tasks, or reference information to make further business decisions. Senior management and employees alike are both frustrated about inability to easily find the information in their own organization.
The good news is that with a little bit help and guidance the information chaos can change over time into information opportunities, where information retrieval can be effective and user friendly gateway to information. This leads many of you ask a follow up question: How do we get there?
One way organizations can get there is by making a specific effort of dedicating skilled people and resources to work on the road-map of milestones to address the information retrieval challenge.
In this series of blogs, I will elaborate on each milestone per blog.
In this first blog on the topic, I am introducing “Intranet Content Publishing Guide”. I am proposing that there is a person usually a Content Strategist (preferably someone who has a good knowledge and CMS technology grasp) in the organization who can educate and inform users of departments on creating high quality intranet information. Knowledge workers are not trained to write for the internet or intranet. These employees are very good at their jobs and are SMEs in their domains of expertise but publishing content on the intranet is more than just adding a document to a SharePoint library. Providing a guide that informs and educates users through additional means like a webinar, or a class will help include users into the initiative of publishing high quality intranet information. After all, we all create information daily, so to some extent it impacts all workforce.
Content Publishing Rules
Here are a few rules that I adopted from my early career of web copy writing that I include in the internal Intranet Content Publishing guide:
- Determine Content Structure: focus on where the content is stored and how it’s structured.
- Focus on the content itself. Item title is a mandatory meta-data that each document, web page, link, video, or power point slide deck must have.
- Use natural language for titles
- Use descriptive headers with keywords that are meaningful to your audience
- Summarize information in documents, and web pages in headings and sub-headings since these sections are indexed and resurfaced in the search results hover panel in SharePoint search, and other search engines
- Share the most important information first
- Communicate one idea per paragraph
- When appropriate use bullets or numbered lists, less is more. Online readers prefer to scan information rather than read lengthy text.
- Format familiar strings of letters or numbers that create a pattern. For example, the string of these 10 numbers is not easily readable at all 2068967475 but apply the format to it like: (206) 896-7475 and people immediately know it’s s a phone number
- Use versioning and publish the final version of the document, slide deck, link, or video
- Index the item with any additional but only relevant meta-data that will help users decide if this is what they are looking for. For example, provide a description of the document, who is the creator, status of a document (if this is a continuously updated item), topic, sub-topic, if it’s a video you can add time it takes to view it.
Providing additional information about the item creates a high-quality information asset, because through describing the item others who had no idea it existed will be able to find it and decide by previewing it if they are interested in the item or not.
- Promote frequently needed content from your department by analyzing web metrics
- Learn what people search for from your department
- Analyze what they ask for in e-mails, on-the phone, messaging system or in the kitchen hall
- Promote any new content such as: policy updates, benefits package changes, sales price changes, rates changes, new product features, new templates, new processes or anything important that your department came up with and intends to share with people across the organization
- Audit content of your department frequently and make appropriate adjustments to add quality:
- Remove content that is non-relevant
- Archive important information to a different location (ideally create a workflow that can automate archiving based on established content business rules)
- Add meta-data to documents that miss it
- Review structured vocabularies of your department quarterly
- Create query rules for most frequently searched by users’ content or the new content your department is promoting
- Review and update links to existing query rules, and remove query rules that are obsolete
Content creators who are employees of departments play a big role in the initiative of improving information retrieval. An Intranet Content Publishing Guide is an effort to reach content authors and educate them about good, better and best practices to publish content internally.