Time for designing
Now that your plans are approved, it’s time for the design details. Some of the infrastructure work might start at this point as well, but generally, it’s a good idea to get as much of the content architecture, usability, navigation and layout concepts nailed as early as possible. Many of these elements may look fairly straightforward, but if you want to integrate your intranet with other systems (like email or file sharing) you may need to invest in some development or configuration work. Best to find out sooner than later.
Making design changes – like building a home – is more expensive once the work gets underway.
Back to the house analogy
The blueprints are done and while the construction crew is busy pouring cement and framing your house, you can get to the fun stuff like choosing fixtures, picking colours and arranging furniture – the choices and shopping list can be endless, but remember your budget isn’t.
The choices made at this stage will have a lasting effect on the satisfaction (enjoyment) visitors (guests) will experience. Go back to your ideas file and rank your wish list items by:
1. Necessary (must haves that are critical to the functioning of the site)
2. Important (almost at the necessary level, but may be subject to compromises for budget or technical reasons)
3. Desirable (can be saved for later, but would add to attractiveness and value if included).
By prioritizing features, you ensure that your budget (and time) is directed to those items delivering the highest value to the project.
Like your house, the design elements and esthetics of your intranet are important features to consider – particularly from a usability perspective. Do the pages (rooms) flow? Is the home page (front door) attractive and easy to enter? Does it give a good indication of what’s inside? Is each function (appliances) easy to find and use?
Once selected, are the page elements (furniture and fixtures) logically and esthetically placed? Will they meet your users’ needs? Speaking of users, have you sounded them out for what they are looking for? If you haven’t, do so now before you finalize your designs. If you have finalized your designs, this is a good point to review (and paper-test) them. Users, like a family, can (and will) provide feedback on your choices from a variety of viewpoints, which may need to be balanced against budget, capabilities, layout (space) and technology considerations. After all, it’s their home, too.
Don’t underestimate the importance of good design.
Who doesn’t want to make the most of what a new home can showcase? Build it right and design it for comfort (usability) and enjoyment (engagement) and it will add value over time.
Next post: Throwing out the welcome mat
Part one: Use a simple analogy to talk about technology projects
Part two: Foundation