Summary: What are Team/Department Sites and how do they differ from Task-Based Sites? Elements to include in your intranet sites are; Online Forms, Event Calendar, Document Management and Blogging.
The World Wide Web is so entrenched in our everyday lives, it seems odd that only a couple of decades ago, many of the terms and concepts we take for granted were either non-existent, or only in their infancy. One term, Information Architecture (IA), which was originally conceived by Richard Wurman in 1975, finally came into vogue in 1998 with the publication of “Information Architecture for the World Wide Wide”, by Rosenfeld and Morville. The book, now considered essential reading for any IA practitioner, quickly became the guide for web designers and architects to build large scale web sites and intranets in an organized and efficient manner.
When designing an intranet, we apply the concepts of information architecture to choose between using team/department sites or task-based sites.
Depending on the size of your organization, your intranet can be organized in a number of ways. Often times, intranet managers and architects choose to organize sites by department or team. For example, you may have a Marketing site, Human Resources site, Information Technology site and so forth.
Each of these sites would include tools and features, such as:
Or other applications with content specific to the parent department/team.
In some cases, this information architecture choice is logical and suits the members of the organization well in toto. In terms of navigation, users know that the documents, forms or calendars specific to their department/team are located within their site. Below is an example site map for a team/department site which contains four applications.
Alternatively, an intranet comprised of task-based sites would embrace a different information architecture approach. Organizing sites by task results in sites with multiple applications providing the same function which are divided by department or team.
For example, we may have a site specifically for Online Forms employees need to fill out. This is where employees would go to locate any form. Employees would know to go to this site to complete the task at hand; filling out a form. From there, you can have the forms organized by department so that when HR goes to fill out a form, they can clearly see where the HR forms are located.
When it comes to each of these, which is better? Choosing between team/department sites and task-based sites for your intranet depends largely on the size and culture of your organization. When interdepartmental interaction is limited and day to day operations are focused primarily on teams working independently, then team/department sites based structure would probably suit that organizational model. When the org structure is more “flat” and there is more interaction between departments and teams, then task-based sites may suit your intranet users better.
Understanding the needs of your audience (your employees), and following information architecture principals will guide intranet designers to determine whether task-based or team/department sites are best for their intranet model.
Which of these models do you use on your intranet and why? Share with me by commenting below.