As an intranet becomes more popular and contributions to the site increase, the number of pages, documents and articles and, subsequently, the number of results on search queries, grows exponentially. Sifting and sorting through this ever-growing information becomes more and more difficult.
In this article we’ll look at three intranets from the Intranet Innovation Awards that use metadata and taxonomies to provide classification systems and filtering options to help users drill down effectively and find what they’re looking for. This concept is far from new, and can be found on many public-facing websites and systems. Yet for intranets it’s become something of a lost art. Perhaps because of the complexity of designing such databases, or the general lack of sophistication of intranets themselves, relatively few sites offer such functionality.
Classifying search at AMP
AMP is a well-known Australian financial services firm with a reputation for technical innovation. AMP’s intranet, the Hub, was recently redesigned and won both a 2010 Intranet Innovation Award and a 2011 ‘Best intranet’ accolade from the Nielsen group. In redesigning the Hub, the AMP team embarked on a full user-centred design process and amped up the capabilities of the search tool, while ensuring a consistent user experience that in many ways mirrors the typical web experience. Classification schemes include the following:
- Location: In the same way that you can filter by country using Google or Bing on the web, this search experience allows users to filter results by Australia and New Zealand, where the vast majority of AMP’s staff are physically located.
- Time/Date: Also instantly recognisable from web search is the timeline filtering, seen on the news archive page. Users are able to filter results based on the day, week, month or year.
Beyond time and location, filtering options become more complex:
- Teams and format: Users can sort by business units and teams, and easily find any results by type, for example web pages, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, PDFs, audio and video.
- Colours: Complementing the main search results are colour-coded labels that, where appropriate, match the well-known colour scheme of Microsoft’s Office suite. So, blue is for document, green is for spreadsheet and so on.
[February article by Alex Manchester, read the full article]