Recently in Intranet Category


I installed the Hyper Cache plugin on the Satellite and measured improvements on WebWait.

  1. Before activating Hyper Cache
  2. After activating Hyper Cache
  3. After placing define('WP_CACHE', true); in the wp-config.php file
  4. After clearing cache in Hyper Cache settings.

Intranet: Close-Out

Sure there's more to do but I'm closing out the Intranet project and opening a new project as Phase II.


I spent a whopping 350 hours since April of 2010. Uffda. But look at the result.


User Access

Here are the areas within the WordPress administration and which roles can access them.

Area Editor Author Contributor
Posts Yes    
Categories Yes    
Tags Yes    
Conference Rooms Yes    
Documents Yes    
Knowledge Base Yes    
Media Yes    
Comments Yes    
Users Yes    
Polls Yes    
Analytics Yes    

User Roles

These are the stock WordPress roles and how we're using them.

Administrator - Full access to everything. Dean's Office communications staff and IT will share the credentials to the sole administrator account.

Editor - Can create and publish their own posts plus edit and publish other people's posts. Can view analytics data plus work with Conference Rooms, Documents and the Knowledge Base. This role is assigned to Dean's Office communications staff.

Author - Can create and publish their own posts plus edit and publish other people's posts. These are key contributors in the various units.

Contributor - Can create their own posts and submit them for publishing. This is the majority of GPS staff.

Subscriber - Can read posts and make comments. We're not using this role but it may come in handy if we want to grant access to someone outside GPS (Robert Jones office? General Counsel's office?)

WordPress Brown Bag

I shared my progress on our intranet at a brown bag session on WordPress yesterday. Essential to our site is the Less Framework adaptive CSS grid system which skins our content to the users device. I added the Starbucks nomenclature to identify the proportions within. Observe how the bricks reassemble themselves as the screen size changes.

The Satellite and Your Mobile Device

On Your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch

Wordpress (free): Good for adding posts because you login only once and you can work offline. Install the app and I'll configure it. You do not need to create an account.

Twitter (free): Twitter is fully integrated with the iOS so you can tweet from Safari, Photos, Camera, YouTube and Maps. Get a Twitter account if you do not already have one. Install the app and configure it with your account. Tweets tagged with our designated hashtag will appear on The Satellite.

FlickStackr for Flickr ($1.99): Tag and upload photos to our Flickr stream. Create a photo gallery in a post using the short code:

[slickr-flickr tag="thetagyouused"]

Instagram (free): Take photos, add filters, tag and upload. Install the app and use it to create your Instagram account. Photos tagged with our designated hashtag will appear on The Satellite.

System Map

I took the content inventory (did you have a chance to review that list?), and organized it into this system map. In the process I puzzled out how the data will be managed in WordPress and what rules govern how it appears on the page.


Why WordPress?

| 1 Comment

I watched much of a Lynda tutorial on choosing the right content management system (CMS). I rated the following features on how important they are to our project. 1 = not important, 3 = very important.

Multisite support1
Easy for content providers3
Easy to set up2
Good documentation3
Support community3
Page management2
SEO-friendly URLs2
ECommerce capability1
Robust search features2
Lean and compliant code3

Other Things To Look for in a CMS

  • Content editor - Can it elegantly handle text, images, pdfs an other assets?
  • Template and Theme Use - Is it easy to implement your desired look and easy to change?
  • User Controls - Can you build roles and access that benefit both users and administrators?
  • Security - Can you regulate access to content and controls when necessary?
  • Search - Can you search all kinds of content quickly?

What Do We Need Out of a CMS?

  • Allow for several content providers across multiple units.
  • Manage different types of content (text, rss feeds, photos, tabular data, calendars).

What's Our Skill Set?

HTML, PHP, CSS. Have experience with WordPress including building a theme from scratch.


Here's what another University staff member says about Contao:

During the past year we began using Contao Content Management System for managing Disability Services websites. It is a great CMS and it just got even better. We now have a module for University web authentication with Shibboleth. This module allows authentication with the University Internet ID and password for website editors as well as for users allowed to see protected content (often used for Intranets). Permissions for authenticated users are configured within Contao user groups. Please get in touch if you are interested in this module.
  • ModX - Seems too much for our little intranet.
  • Drupal - Too complex and no expertise with.
  • Concrete 5 - Patrick H says it's still good but recommends WordPress for us.
  • Contao - Very tempting given the testimony above.
  • Other Free and Open Source - There are many but none stand out.


  • I have experience with it.
  • It meets our requirements.
  • LAC already uses it and it works well for them.
  • Patrick H, who has a lot of experience in web systems, endorses it.
  • There's a huge online community including users here on campus.
  • We should be able to make it work with Shibboleth.

Getting Media Queries To Work

I'm using WordPress for our intranet and incorporating the Less Framework template so our pages respond to the device. I learned that I need to add the following line to the header.php file. I added it after the stylesheet call.

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, 

Also, I changed the tablet dimensions to the following:

@media only screen and (min-width: 768px) and (max-width: 1024px) { }

Next Steps

| 1 Comment

I checked the University's branding site and the section on social media. I didn't read anything explicit about twitter hashtags but judging from the University's News Service feed, the convention has settled on #umn.

Jennifer is tasked with developing a hashtag or combination of hashtags that will isolate our stuff. GPSers on Twitter or Instagram or Yammer or similar media should use these tags when sharing GPS-related content. Then we have a hook by which we can stream that content onto our intranet.

I will work on the staff directory portion of the site.

Eventually, we'll develop a governance plan.

I proposed content headings but didn't get unanimous support. Molly felt it reflected too much our internal structure rather than the user's mental model. Great criticism. Let's allow the headings to reveal themselves. In the meantime, I'll put in place these navigation elements:

  • Search. Every page will have a field that can search the title and content of everything on the site.
  • Categories. I'd like to see these tie back to the main content areas.
  • Taxonomies. I see this layer as reflecting our units — LAC, CARLA, etc. We, the site-owners, decide what they are and give content providers a pick-list.
  • Tags. Here the content providers can go nuts.
  • Related content. Much like newspapers link to archived material on the same subject, I'd like a way to link relevant content.
  • Big Foot. That is, a big footer featuring links to popular content. It creates a back door to content without undermining the top-down structure.

With categories, taxonomies and tags, we construct a crosshatch allowing us to pull a string and draw out related content. As site owners, we can leverage them to erect a site structure. For users, they provide a way to hop to similar content.


Requirement: Easy to access — both to consume and submit content.

Response: We're going with WordPress.

Requirement: Looks good on all devices — desktop, tablet and smart phone. Must be accessible to those who travel.

Response: We're following the principles of Responsive Web Design and using the Less Framework method. I adapted it to our needs with a style sheet that sizes and positions content according the the device.

User Analysis

The intranet is for staff of the Global Programs and Strategy Alliance. Will student workers have access? I don't know. This is a rudimentary analysis, but I identify three main types of users. The following personas are a bit exaggerated so no GPSer fits squarely in a single profile. More likely, the typical GPSer is a blend depending on workload and the cycles of the academic year.

Spot, The Cube Dweller. Spot rarely travels for work, serves on few committees, seldom connects with staff from other units, has minimal student contact and infrequently communes with external people. Spot gets GPS news from his computer, his weekly status with his supervisor and the occasional all-staff meeting in his unit.

Dick, The Globe Trotter. Dick is on-the-move, traveling frequently for work. He's been all over the world (has one of those passports with extra pages). He's on a NAFSA committee and made a presentation at the last conference. He serves on cross-unit initiatives. Dick gets GPS news from email, the committees he serves on, and the informal connections with others at events and meetings.

Jane, the High Flyer. Jane travels lots, plus she serves on committees in GPS, the University and nationally in higher ed. Jane contributes to the leadership of GPS either by title or experience or esprit. She's well-regarded and her opinion is sought-after. She's often the news-maker, but really wants to keep a pulse on the GPS day-to-day.


  1. Provide tools GPSers need to do their job,
  2. Reduce the "I-didn't-know"s. Inform GPSers about news, events and developments relevant to GPS.
  3. Build a sense of community among GPSers that will help poke holes in the silos between the units.
  4. Be a virtual clubhouse/assembly hall/union hall. Be the place GPSers go to hang, pick up handy info and restore themselves to the vision and mission of GPS.

Intranet Reboot

We set aside this project while Jennifer rebuilt the GPS Alliance website, orchestrated a name-change, and midwifed the birth of the strategic plan. Me? I worked on some sh#t.

Where We Left Off

I conducted a card sort among communicators and distilled the results into categories. Clear consensus emerged on some, but not all categories.

What's Changed Since Then

  • The new GPS Alliance site will have content originally planned for the intranet. We can pair down a whole category of "Unit Info" into a single page.
  • The Staff Database launched and staff photos have been taken. Now there's a hunger among the units to see something come of these.
  • Missy was hired as Finance Director, a new position. She wishes to consolidate financial information under a single category.
  • The Dean's Office is embarking on a broad internal communication plan. The intranet needs to yield to the goals of this initiative.
  • I have more experience with WordPress and remained convinced it's a suitable platform for the intranet. There's a growing community of WordPress users at the University.
  • The strategic plan launched and will shape our identity for years to come. The intranet needs to complement the Google site in disseminating information.
  • An observable trend in websites is a large footer with lots of links. These links create backdoors to popular content without undermining the broader site structure and navigation.
  • Staff expertise tool is being worked on and will live somewhere, possibly here.

How Do We Adapt to These Changes

  • Look for an easy win. Deliver something using staff pictures and database. In fact, look for the least we can deliver that's still legitimate and useful.
  • Build flexibility around events, news and photos in order to coincide with the internal communication plan.
  • Make sure the design can elegantly absorb new content and features without disorienting the user.
  • Anticipate a home for the staff expertise tool.

My Next Steps

  • Sink teeth into WordPress
  • Propose possible system maps
  • Draft structure for home, landing, content and archive pages
  • Suggest a navigation structure
  • Suggest tagging and taxonomies for indexing content