4 ways to improve findability on your intranet

If the information in your intranet is not easy to find, then staff can get frustrated.

In fact, I’ve heard stories from employees who say that when they want to find out about the company they are working for, the use Google.


Case in point – I was at an appliance store the other day, that has branches throughout the country. I asked the girl at the checkout whether there was a store in one particular city. While she looked

While she looked furtively at her screen, I took a peek over her shoulder. It was the company’s intranet. I advised her to open up a new tab in her browser, go to Google, and type in the name of the store plus the word “branches”.

She followed my instructions and two minutes later she was able to give me an answer.

Why did she use Google?

I won’t talk about the magic that Google performs to bring you the information that you want.

I do want to talk, however, about the reason that people are going to an outside facility rather than using the companies own resource…findability.

the reason that people are going to an outside facility rather than using the companies own resource…findability.

How is Google able to achieve this?

  1. Google makes use of a lot of computers (estimated,in 2011, at 900,000).
  2. This means a lot of processing power to be able to crawl publically accessible websites on the internet, sift through what is found, and categorise it in a way that is useful.
  3. The search actions of  billions of people, including the questions they are asking, is being analysed. This data is used to be able to be able to return the most relevant information.
  4. Google has thousands of people working for it that are dedicated to making sure that this information is available.

How can you improve findability?

Findability does not just mean being able to search for something and then getting results.

It also means that the information on the intranet is structured in a logical way that allows people to navigate to what they are looking for quickly. Often, little thought has gone into the way information should be presented.

To improve the findability of the information in your company, consider the following:

  1. What other ways are there that the information can be accessed quickly? Short-cuts, quick links, FAQs.
    Create a screen mock-up, and test how easy it is for staff to find the information.Use a tool that allows this to be simulated on-line, and set up real-life scenarios involving staff members with different functions to determine whether improvements can be made.
  2. What information do the users (from back office workers to those at the client interface) need access to?
    Analytics will show you what is being accessed the most. Well thought-out surveyscan return valuable information. Even talking to staff members individually,or in groups, can add a lot of value.
  3. How can the navigation structure be set up so that it is intuitive?
    Use the feedback you got. Perform a card sort to help build up an understanding ofhow the staff want information grouped. Put together a “mock navigation”,using a suitable tool such as Optimal’s Treejack, and see how easy it is for users to find what they are looking for.
  4. Pay attention to the questions that are often asked by staff.
    These will usually turn up questions that get repeatedly asked. “How is xyz done?”,
    “Where do I find information on our widgets?”. These questions make up the basis for the FAQs or a wiki.

What else?

These were 4 things that need to be done to help improve findability. If you know of any other things that can be done, let me know.

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends. 


Want to learn more?

I’ve selected a few books that I feel are relevant to what was covered in this blog post, and will provide more in-depth information. (Important Disclosure).

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How Search Engines Work 2016


How Search Engines Work 2016 is vastly different than how they worked in 2004.

Search has come a long way since the days of PageRank and 10 blue links (see how Google used to work).

With an ever expanding amount of inputs, variables, and penalties, this infographic (by SEO Book) looks at how search works today and what that means for both users and webmasters.



How Search Engines Work 2016

How Search Engines work in 2016

Internet Marketing Graphics by SEOBook


Useful Resources

(Important Disclosure)

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Asking the question: GOOD; asking it over and over: BAD – where social engagement in the workplace fails.


Using social tools within the enterprise is a valuable thing. It lets people ask questions to a bigger audience than just those sitting within hearing distance of their desk.

I’ve discussed this in earlier posts (ESS (Enterprise Social Software) – user adoption, and Let’s share!). It’s incredibly valuable to be able to draw on the knowledge of others. That’s why it’s good to be able to ask questions. The answer given helps not just the asker, but can help others, and at the same time, others can add to the answer creating even more value.

Where I feel this all falls down though is that, often, there is no real way to capture that knowledge that came about from the questions asked. Continue reading

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Introducing…the Internet SuperHeroes

Thanks to CollegeHumor

Here they are to save the world … maybe.

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Haha – Life before Google

This cartoon made me laugh…


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Asking Stupid Questions – what can happen?

People consider that you are asking stupid questions when …

… that question that can be answered by using Google.

While easy to do, consider this – by simply finding the answer straight away, it removes the opportunity for dialogue, for discussing, and learning…

For example, I want to know what HTML5 is. I could go to Google, (or Bing, or any search engine) type the four letters and one numeral in, and get an abundance of results.

However, if I ask someone, there are a number of outcomes:

Do you see what happened there?

The easy solution was to Google the answer. Simple, easy & fast.

However, by asking someone, I engaged in dialogue, and when the person started explaining the answer, the dialogue started becoming rich, and each interaction created new richness.

People communicating,and sharing ideas, thoughts, knowledge, concerns is, actually, a pretty great thing. :O)

I would love to hear what your experiences are?

Oh, and by the way, if you like this post, share it with others.

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History of the Search Engine [infographic]

History of the Search Engine

Do you know how we got to today’s search engines? The history of the search engine is interesting reading …

First there was Archie. This was, actually, the word “Archive” without the “v”.

Veronica and Jughead followed quickly (playing on the Archie Comics theme)

These were simple listings.

Quickly, search technology improved with Google appearing in 1998.

This fasinating infographic shows the evolution of the Search Engine. It’s worth taking a little bit of time to follow search engines from birth to 2010.

History of the Search Engine - Infographic

Infographic byWordStream Internet Marketing


Useful Books
(Important Disclosure)

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One of the people I follow on twitter is Shadeed Eleazer (@mrshadeed). He’s a cool guy and blogs about the digital world. He also creates video blogs.

One of the ones I watched recently was about Klout. He talks about what it is and how it works.

Definitely worth 3 minutes and 48 seconds of your time to view/listen to it.

[dailymotion id=xk605d]

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Learning how to use Google+ uses (or “I’m new here – 2”)

As I mentioned in my previous post, I didn’t really “get” Google+.  (Having never actually having used Facebook).

Just after writing that post, I found this article, by Matt Heinz, in which he said:

You can drive yourself nuts and waste loads of time chasing after every new technology, gadget, productivity tool, social network or other flavor of the week.

And if you insist on being the first to try everything and position yourself on the bleeding edge, knock yourself out.

In the article was also a link to another useful article in which Chris Brogan lists 50 useful things to do with Google+.

The Google+ 50


I’m going to read through this.

Maybe this social media troglodyte will learn something…

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I’m new here


Ok – so I got myself a Google+ account.

Now I have to get used to using it.  I’ve never done Facebook (and was damn proud of it), so this side of the online social media world is new to me.

What I mean, is that I had gotten used to checking my Twitter stream regularly, and kept an eye on Delicious’ “Recent” bookmarks (to see if anyone else had found anything interesting), but Google+ … well that was new for me.

So – I caught myself smiling when I saw a post on Google+ by someone that I had inadvertently “invited” when I had included him in one of my “Circles”. His comment was:

Ok, here we go…another social obligation. I wonder what the chance of me maintaining G+ as well as my Blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

I felt exactly the same way (with the exception of Facebook).

At the same time, I was hitting the Random button on the xkcd site, and came across this:


Note: I never waste my time with social media at work



  • What Are Companies Saying About Social Media In The Workplace? [Infographic]
  • Young people ‘bored’ with social media
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  • 20 Social Media Infographics – From Celeb Twitter Trees to Facebook Page Celebrations (TrendHunter.com)
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