After just making one new portal go live very early yesterday morning, I added the finishing touches to my teams project plan for enhancing yet another portal. This one is a big deal. It’s the main portal for the company, and it averages over 150,000 page views a day.
What does a large company with such a busy intranet find important? Below are some of the key items we are going after.
List of Key Items
The major goals of this project is to enhance usability, accessibility, and consistency in design. This is also known as spring cleaning.
The site blueprint is where we keep all the important facts about the site on the server side. Who owns the server, who do we call or contact at IT if the server crashes, who can make back up edits on the fly, and anything else we can think of. It’s everything you need to know about the site, and it’s people.
We are going through the site making sure it’s as compatible and accessible as possible. Using EM instead of pixels for font sizes, making sure images have ALT attributes, making it as cross browser friendly as possible, and the list goes on.
We are going through the site making sure colors are used consistently and are user friendly.
Quality of Anchor Text
Killing the click here type anchors, and turning them into more descriptive and less clumsy type of text. We are no longer saying “Click here to download the document”. We are now saying, “Download example.pdf“. Non-HTML type documents will also include small 16×16 pixel icons.
Going over everything with a fine tooth comb we are making sure all headings and content are consistent in margin, that heading tags are consistent in use and size, and that everything is visually appealing based on visual alignment of content.
Content providers will now need approval before using this until a written policy is put into place. It has gone completely out of hand on this particular intranet, with many simply copying and pasting it because they don’t know how to normally create a link. Policy will only allow a few different reasons.
We are not going to make a change simply because we think it’s a good idea. We need sources of documented cases to justify all of our changes, feedback from users, and results from user testing. Seriously.
A common issue on a corporate intranet? Too many cooks in the kitchen. Things get sloppy, deadlines don’t allow for extras of any kind, often not even validating code. We also identify that download times are becoming more of an issue for our portal. Cleaning the code, and eliminating slop is one of the fastest ways to do it. It also has the pleasant side effect of improving accessibility, one of our primary goals.