By Mia Drane Maury, writer/editor, U.S. Geological Survey
The task of building and maintaining an agency-wide Intranet might seem daunting, especially if you lack a Web background. Luckily, six Intranet gurus were on hand for an interactive webinar to share their tips for successfully developing and running internal sites. The six speakers provided insight into the how’s and why’s of their Intranets and demonstrated their sites’ structure, functionality, and ease of use.
Noha Gaber (director, Office of Internal Communications, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) led off with a presentation explaining how the EPA uses SharePoint to help employees collaborate. Cheryl Thompson (website manager, communications and public liaison, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences) continued with an in-depth description of “The Junction,” which uses a blend of Percussion and Cold Fusion to provide NIEHS employees with a comprehensive yet customizable web hub, complete with applications and a system for sharing and archiving important announcements.
Franklin Bradley (internal communications manager, Architect of the Capitol) and Aubrey McMahan (internal communications specialist, U.S. Geological Survey) both focused on how user-friendly their respective Intranets are. Franklin demonstrated a navigation scheme that groups content by purpose and allows users to access information more intuitively. A “What’s New” section hosts news and updates while an “I Want to Use…” section lists links to sometimes-ambiguous portals accompanied by a description of what each portal does. Aubrey guided webinar viewers through the USGS’s “@The Core” Intranet and explained how the WordPress content management system allows information to be broadcast to specific channels and updated universally in real time. Aubrey also demonstrated a sidebar navigation design that encompasses most of the site’s functionality within a small footprint.
Alison McCauley (web developer contractor with n-Link for the Department of Commerce) and
Alec Minor (Web services branch chief, communications division, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis) shared their experiences with functionality. Alison explained the flexibility built into the DOC’s fully responsive, Drupal-based Intranet. Not only are page layouts designed with reusability in mind, but pages can be customized for seasons and holidays—among other things—while maintaining their cohesive look. Alec walked participants through BEA’s Intranet, which features icons that resemble those of touch-screen devices and that very simply convey their purpose. He went on to explain several features of BEAnet, including the online-based workflow system used for approving content; employee profiles; and an administrative services section that helps simplify tedious tasks.
All together, the six presenters provided a great starting point for those interested in developing their own Intranets and shared great tips for current Intranet managers. Webinar content—including a recording of the event, slide decks, screen shots, and an FAQ—will be available soon. Post any follow-up questions to presenters in the comments section of the FAQs.
A big thank you to everyone who attended, to our presenters, and to FCN and the Federal Intranet Content Managers for co-hosting the event.