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The latest book by James Robertson (@s2d_jamesr), Founder of Step Two Designs and a global intranet expert, is titled Essential intranets: Inspiring sites that deliver business value and truly delivers on its promise. While not a how-to guide, this intranet tome truly is both “essential” and “inspiring”.

Essential intranets book by James Robertson - cover

Do you get excited about intranets? (I do.)

Until I decide to grow up and take myself too seriously, my LinkedIn profile will show my role as “Intranet Nerd”. I’ve made peace with the fact that I’m part of a limited group of people who would actually get excited about leafing through a 283-page book on intranets.

There are almost no academic programmes for designing and building intranets. Many people who run intranets don’t even have the title of “Intranet Manager”. And probably a majority of intranets today are poorly designed and managed.

However, if your eyes light up at the thought of seeing 120 intranet screenshots and 66 examples of how to make your intranet more valuable then you, my friend, are part of my tribe. (Yes, I went through the whole book and counted.)

Despite the intimidating length and depth of Essential intranets, it remains interesting from start to finish. My favourite parts actually come from the very beginning and the very end.

The introduction to Essential intranets includes a letter from James Robertson to the reader titled “Share my passion about intranets”. This letter encapsulates the strange-but-true feelings we intranet nerds aficionados have mysteriously found animating our work lives.

Why would someone have a passion for intranets?

Intranets sit at a fascinating nexus of needs and inspirations. Somehow the people who get drawn into the world of intranets 1) feel driven to help people, 2) enjoy creating order and 3) like or at least understand technology.

Intranet Manager's nexus of interests

These three inherent propensities come together in an intranet manager, who finds him- or herself strangely excited by phrases like “homepage screenshots” and “news personalization” and “information architecture” and “business value”.

If this description fits you (whether or not you admit it in public) I think you’ll find great satisfaction in Essential intranets.

Style & organization of “Essential intranets”

The 120 screenshots and 66 examples in the book are organized by the different types of business value a modern intranet can deliver.

In James Robertson’s standard style the text is straightforward, easy to scan and well organized. This gets me to my other favourite part of the book.

In the final section James offers a mind-bogglingly simple framework for evaluating potential intranet projects and narrowing the scope of your intranet strategy. This framework and related diagram exemplify what I (and probably his clients) like most about James’ work: his insightful yet simple approach.

So, if you’re looking for the perfect holiday gift for your favourite intranet manager, pick up a copy of Essential intranets: Inspiring sites the deliver business value. If you think eight days of Chanukah or 12 days of Christmas bring a lot of happiness, wait until you see one of my fellow nerds receive 283 pages of intranets!

About the author

Ephraim Freed, Communications Manager for the Digital Workplace Group (DWG)Ephraim Freed is a communicator and self-proclaimed “intranet nerd”.

Ephraim works at Riot Games now, but previously worked at DWG overseeing marketing, facilitating in-person & online member events and hosting our monthly webinar, Digital Workplace Live.

Prior to that, as a writer and professional services consultant for social intranet software company, ThoughtFarmer and managed internal communications and launched a social intranet at Oxfam America.

In his spare time Ephraim raises his two baby girls, goes trail running and plays many sports with great mediocrity.

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