NZ Ministry of Transport
“Go Discover” Intranet
Winner, 2008 Intranet Design Awards, Nielson Norman Group
Microsoft Partner Solution of the Year Award 2007
In 2007 Provoke Solutions were instrumental in breaking new ground with Sharepoint, Microsoft’s enterprise CMS. The result was a radical new approach to information architecture winning the intranet a prestigious award from one of the world’s top usability experts, Jakob Nielsen.
Following a transport sector review in 2003, the Ministry of Transport increased from 50 to 140 staff, opening extra offices in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch. An IT strategic review in 2005 revealed a need for an intranet for collaboration, content management, centralised communication and stakeholder management.
Claire Johnstone, GM-corporate at the Ministry, said “We wanted to develop an intranet that was easy to use, something modern and flexible, attractive to use – a communication tool people wanted to use as a first source of information. It also needed to provide information on ministry policies and processes and provide a social forum for staff”, she said.
In a bold move Provoke decided to build the intranet on Sharepoint 2007, which was still in beta. The new platform had never been used to create an intranet and Microsoft took close notice of the project. The outstanding result won Provoke Microsoft’s Partner Solution of the Year.
The project needed a solid understanding of Sharepoint’s capabilities and the needs of the Ministry’s staff, so Zef was was called in as the principal information architect and user experience designer on the project.
Zef’s process included undertaking a content inventory, interviewing stakeholders and users – and a radical new approach to information architecture that paid off. He achieved this by taking advantage of Sharepoint’s metadata functionality and ‘hacked’ the platform to enable a completely flexible information architecture that was more intuitive for users. Before then the best practice was to locate content within a strict navigation hierarchy, which often hindered the findability of content for users.
On completion of the intranet, the Ministries staff were enjoying its use.
Provoke’s CEO Mason Pratt said “The main thing we did right was to make sure the solution solved the business need and the social need. It’s basically just good to use – it’s modern, flexible and it looks good. It’s about people and that’s what works for our customers”.
The Ministry of Transport said the intranet was a “far cry from what might expected from a government intranet”.
“It supports around 200 central government workers enabling them to post their own news content with a sound information architecture and fun style which all contribute to the MoT intranet being ‘the’ place to be — and no travel required,” the Ministry said in a press statement.
In 2008 the Ministry of Transport’s intranet was named as among the best in the world, being listed in the Top 10 in an international competition. It was the first New Zealand organisation to have ever won the award. Other winners were world heavyweights such as The Bank of America, Barnes & Noble, British Airways and IKEA.
San Francisco-based Nielsen Norman Group, who had organised the event since 2000, said “The New Zealand Ministry of Transport intranet makes it effortless to communicate research work and news across the organisation. The design team achieved this effortless communication by applying sound information architecture and considering user tasks and simplicity. And they were able to do this while still promoting the transportation theme in subtle and pleasant ways across the site.”