Governance & Process, Guidance & How To

Tips For the Digital Workplace Start Page

…… Part of The Basics series. First published in August 2011 ……

Govern the framework, not the page










Following on from my post of Aug 9th 3 ways to bring coherence to the digital workplace, the home page is a good starting point. It is the front door into the eco-system. (I wrote about this briefly in Snapshot of the Digital Workplace.)

The start page was one of the hardest things to define in the “old intranet”. In today’s fast-changing “digital workplace” it is getting a lot harder.

The start page must:

  1. Make a promise about what people will find when they open the door
  2. Project the values of the organization
  3. Speak to all people

The global intranet manager must ensure that the home page truly represents the different dimensions of the enterprise. This requires engaging stakeholders and users in constructive debate and defining the purpose, strategy and ownership of the home page.

What promise does your start page make?

  • Does it say “here is where you’ll find everything you need to do your job” or does it say “here is where you can read the news from around the organization”?
  • Does it say “this is your page; organize it as your wish” or does it say “we have selected what is important for you”?

I’m exaggerating, but only a little. If you don’t have a clear promise for the start page, you will not be able to referee the stakeholder battles over space and positioning.

How does your start page transmit the values of your organization?

  • Is the content mostly top-down or is it participative?
  • Are there feeds from the social spaces or is it primarily polished content?
  • Can people add comments to articles and management posts?

How can the start page be relevant for everyone?

Once the ownership of the page is defined, the actual management of content is no longer the direct responsibility of the global intranet manager.

  • One governance decision may be: “Local business unit news will be on the home page and local communication managers are responsible for this. They will publish their content directly, following the agreed rules.”  This makes the local communicators responsible and accountable for their news on the home page and leaves the global intranet manager responsible for governing the home page framework, not the content.
  • Another governance decision may be: “Individual people can select the content they need/prefer for the right hand column.” The role of the global intranet manager in this case is to ensure there is an easy way for people to see what choices they have and how to make their selections.