Chapter 20. MSWeb: An Enterprise Intranet

How three types of “taxonomies”—an indexing vocabulary, schema, and category labels—were successfully utilized to describe high-value content
The technical architecture that was developed to maintain these taxonomies
How a modular approach and an emphasis on service helped the MSWeb team succeed in revamping the MSWeb intranet

What is the Holy Grail for information architects? It’s the secret that will help them develop and maintain a user-centered information architecture for a large, distributed enterprise—the kind made up of all sorts of autonomous, bickering business units that have their own goals, their own sites, their own infrastructures, their own users, and their own ideas of how to go about things (see Chapter 19 for more on enterprise information architecture).

It’s nearly impossible to develop a successful information architecture against a backdrop of explosive content growth, content ROT, and the political twists and turns common in any organization. And, we’re sorry to say, no one can claim to own the Grail. But we’ve had the privilege of getting up close to a large number of corporate intranets. And one of the best approaches we’ve seen so far is the one taken by Microsoft’s intranet portal (MSWeb) team.

Before you protest, we admit that yes, we understand that you probably don’t have the same resources at your disposal as Microsoft’s team did. But we think everyone can learn from Microsoft’s efforts; what it’s doing today ...

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