Find your inner editor

Riitta Suominen ©   

The purpose of an intranet is to effectively serve general work tasks. The easier it is for the user to find the information needed, the faster tasks can be performed.

In most cases, a telephone number or other contact information is still sought from the intranet. Often news is also viewed, and gradually the use of services as well has seen an increase: orders, applications and registrations are being made more and more online.

It's good to construct a shortcut to data followed daily by intensive users - i.e. a direct link from the main page. Shortcuts often lead to a telephone directory, menu or chat channel. The principle behind usability planning is to offer quick access to data which is actually used a lot - not to data that is hoped to be used a lot.

Instructions for intranet writers

The following is a quick guide to creating an intranet article:

1) Find out what users are looking for from the page.
2) Think about how you could make doing things on the network more effective.
3) Offer users access to the information generated in your unit.
4) Write tersely and favour a news-like structure: a descriptive title or heading, an opening paragraph that condenses the message, and the story itself, proceeding from what is important to what is less so.
5) Emphasize titles, headings, images and captions that attract interest.
6) Use everyday language: avoid special terms and abbreviations.
7) Create links between people, matters and web pages.
8) Develop concepts for interaction and feedback modes.

Name and provide headings with skill

Useful content is selected from web pages by means of menus: material is not read in order from beginning to end. The entire website should therefore serve the browsing operation mode, in which the names of menus function as search words.

Content must be predicted well by names and headings. Use familiar words from everyday language and always add descriptive subheadings after a few paragraphs.

The heading should describe the message content in an interesting and comprehensive way. General headings (Education, My comment or Reply to a question) should be stated more precisely (Intranet training Thursday 17 Jan. at 9.00h, Register by 10 January at the latest and Apply for your holiday with form HH402). It should be possible to differentiate between headings.

Hyperlinks - not just hype!

Links represent the core of Internet/intranet text, so it's well-worth using them. Online text is made up of many independent parts which are linked to each other. Texts should be written so that they function independently but link well together.

In naming links, it's a good idea to observe general practice: you can lead the reader to certain pages either by name alone or with a web address, or both. For example:

City brochures can also be ordered from the tourist office.
City brochures can also be ordered at
City brochures can also be ordered from the tourist office (

For the reader, the easiest alternative is the first one. In providing names for links, it's also a good idea to think of the best for the reader. Browsing is well-supported by keywords, while long links fragment the text and pronouns poorly anticipate the content: e.g. City brochures can be ordered here.

The usual material on an intranet is made up of instructions whose core is explained in the online text. Documents are placed in attachments whose details can be checked if desired by the user. In connection with the link, the file format and size are mentioned (User Questionnaire Study 2006, 129 kilobytes).

User Questionnaire Study 2005

This item is based on the Find Your Inner Editor guide, which has been published as a whole on the City of Tampere's intranet.

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