I got my start in Web design back in the dark ages of 1995 as a Webmaster for a regional ISP.
I was responsible for creating a Yahoo!-type site, teaching business customers the intricacies of HTML, and assisting with the marketing efforts to sell this new product called “The Web.”
I created the Web site Web Pages That Suck to get out of teaching a design course and when this site became an Internet hot spot and started winning awards, I was given the opportunity to co-author a best selling design book of the same name.
The book’s success led to speaking engagements and the obvious move into consultancy. As a consultant to Fortune 1000 corporations, I’ve noted some interesting similarities in Intranets:
Many corporate intranet and/or extranet sites — the sites behind the firewalls visible only to employees and select outsiders — look a lot like the sites in my book “Web Pages That Suck.”
I was initially confused as to the cause of the bad design, but I realized the corporate pressure was on the public site and there was less pressure to improve Intranets because they’re hidden from public view. After all, who’s going to know the dirty little family secret?
While a large number of Intranets are poorly designed there’s an increasing number which are well-designed. These sites are, for the most part, at the “template” stage.
The corporation mandates the use of templates to gain a consistent look, but can’t force their users to adhere to more rigorous usability standards.
Since access to Intranets is restricted from public view, I find it interesting so many Intranets share common design mistakes. I’ve grouped these design faux paus into something I call:
The Top 10 Intranet Design Mistakes
Any suggestions I may make for improving an Intranet are just that — suggestions, not commandments from Mount HTML.
Please remember: Your boss gets to make the final decision about Web design issues and your valuable insights may be overruled.
There may also be political issues you just can’t successfully fight. Discretion is always the better part of valor.
Mistake #1 Splash Pages
Mistake #2 Keeping Unnecessary Design Items
Mistake #3 Using the same design for the corporate Web site and the corporate Intranets
Mistake #4 Forgetting the Japanese!
Mistake #5 Forgetting that the “Top’s Gotta Pop”
Mistake #6 Poor navigation
Mistake #7 Flash
Mistake #8 Forgettng that “Text is text and links are links”
Mistake #9 Not testing your site with different browsers and different systems
Mistake #10 Too much content