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The Beginning Is the Most Important Part of the Work

We scheduled meetings and talked about our vision, mission, goals, roles, and responsibilities in this intranet project. We drafted documents that stated all of the above in addition to outlining the project criteria and stating business requirements.

These were some of our main goals or objectives:

  • Cleaner, easier, more portal-like look and feel, almost fun to use.

  • Emphasis on white space and readability.

  • Easier navigation; no Back button needed and fewer clicks.

  • Redesigned home page with a more aesthetically balanced appearance.

  • Serving as the "launching pad" for most (if not all) normal tasks and the portal through which users retrieved relevant information.

  • Vehicle for the communication of important company news and an alternative to broadcast emails. Preferred communication method for all employees.

  • Intuitive design, requiring minimal to no training to use.

  • Allowing business functions to access requested material electronically, thus reducing paper usage.

  • Restricted access to content based on login information, thus allowing us to "hide" some information and tailor menu options to certain groups or departments.

  • Non-developers within the various business units to have control over and the ability to update some of their own content, including news items, organizational charts, department links, etc.

We next discussed the problems we had with the current intranet and what we would like to do to correct them. This was a very touchy subject, since the original developers were part of this discussion. However, everyone remained very professional, and they did a good job of putting any personal feelings aside. This was a very important step toward beginning our relationship as a team. Our project could easily have failed if the original developers had shut down to change and constructive criticism, or taken any of the comments personally.

We also talked to other organizations (mainly insurance companies comparable to our own business) and asked some of them to come in and show us what they had done. We talked to several vendors about our options and tried a few demos. We asked users what they wanted. We attended an intranets conference where we talked to several more vendors.

And all this before we designed the first graphic or wrote the first line of code.

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