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Intranet pages or documents? What’s best for the reader

Intranet pages or documents? What’s best for the reader


When writing content for your intranet, it can be tempting to create a file in Word, upload it and link to it from a page – but would that provide the best experience for your readers? Probably not. Nobody ever visits a website and wishes every link was a Word document!

The web was built for web pages, but downloadable documents are necessary sometimes. My rule is pretty straight forward; use intranet pages to present your information unless you have a decent reason not to. And even then, those reasons should be limited to:

  1. When other people need to collaborate or edit the content
  2. When your information must to be presented in a certain layout that your intranet can’t recreate successfully.

Page or file flow chartOur decision tree is a great place to start.

When I advise content editors to create and maintain content in pages, rather than files, I’m often met with an astonished look, followed by ‘but surely my page will be too long to scroll through, my sabbatical policy is 10 pages long!.

The scrolling myth was debunked many years ago. People are happy to scroll*. It’s no effort to move your finger over the mouse to scroll down a page. As long as people know they’re in the right place and will get to what they need, scrolling is fine.

Alternatively, if you’re worried your readers might get achy fingers, you could always set up a group of pages that link to each other, allowing you to publish shorter, subject-focused pages and still cover the whole topic.

If you’re looking for other ways to avoid finger ache or help your intranet readers get the best experience, sign up to our intranet content workshop.

*People using assistive technology may feel differently,
but usability and accessibility features (like tabbing) can help.

This is one of a series of short articles about intranet content practices.

Joanne Treverton

Previously an in-house intranet manager.

  • Posted at 10:15 am, 1 April, 2016
  • Posted at 7:10 am, 13 April, 2016

    That’s an interesting question, thanks for sharing this article. In my opinion, intranet pages are the best way to share information. Why? Because you can update them easily and they are a good working basis. Also, you don’t have to worry about everyone having the same Office version installed.

  • Nicholas
    Posted at 12:05 am, 18 April, 2016

    Thanks for the fantastic Article, Joanne!

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