Each person uses a Web site a little differently. I frequently use
things that you may never use. Personalizing my interface with the
intranet makes it a more efficient tool, thereby making me a more
efficient worker and the intranet more valuable to the business.
What are some practical, cost-effective ways to personalize an intranet?
We currently offer two personalization features in our intranet.
The first is a process where each worker may create a set of personal
shortcuts, called My Links. These are stored in a database, linked
to the worker's network login, and loaded dynamically when any page
Links are displayed in a narrow strip between the banner and the
primary navigation tabs:
order to keep the user interface identical for everyone, the section
for My Links does not expand vertically. Each person is limited
to eight links in this list.
new worker's My Links are "seeded" with a generic set
of links to items that we think are the best starting point for
that person. Clinicians have a different set of default My Links,
targeted to their likely needs. We review the My Links "seed"
lists regularly (via an automated reminder, of course).
change links, the user clicks a link in the My Links bar, which
opens the form below. To replace a link, the current link is removed,
and a new one added.
"Add" opens a list of all items on the intranet that are
My Links "candidates." The user simply clicks the button
to "Add to Mylinks" (shown below), inputs a brief title
for the item, and optionally sets the sort order.
everything on the intranet is configured to be a candidate for My
Links. We limit My Links candidates to those items that we think
are most likely to be used frequently. This is managed with a setting
in the Backbone database for each document (Driving
with Databases). I'd like to say that we review all My Links
candidates regularly based on usage statistics, but we haven't yet
found the time. We simply make a judgment call when a new item is
added to the intranet.
One very important personalization technique is to only show each
user the items to which they have permissions. It is frustrating
for a user to click on something, only to be told that they don't
have permission to see it. It is much better to take the extra step
and only show the user the items for which they have permissions.
Our process for doing this is discussed in Transparent
Security and Permissions.
We would love to add more personalization, but so far this hasn't
risen high enough on the priority list to get done. We plan to look
at several possible features:
intranet task list
on home page Many workers, especially managers, have various
requests to approve or items to update on the intranet. We send
an e-mail notifying the worker of the pending task, but it's easy
for the e-mail to be ignored. A task list with direct links to
the tasks would help busy managers to keep current.
feeds instead of e-mail blizzard
Most applications on the intranet, and many other automated
processes running in the background, include e-mail reminders
and alerts. Eventually, this becomes a blizzard of e-mails, and
busy workers may simply create a rule to automatically delete
all mail from the intranet. An RSS feed could keep all these messages
out of the inbox but easily accessible. However, we haven't yet
found an RSS reader that we're comfortable installing across the
updated reports list
Everyone has the option to be notified via e-mail when
one of "their" reports is updated, but this only contributes
to the e-mail blizzard. It would be great if there was a section
on the home page that listed newly updated reports for that worker.
personalization is desired, it should be designed in from the
beginning. Later will probably be too late, because there will
always be other, more urgent priorities.
likes My Links, including clinicians. Even limited personalization
is well worth doing.
Posted 1 April 2008