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Chapter: User Interface Design

Intranet versus the Internet

They differ, however, in some important ways as

Intranet versus the Internet


They differ, however, in some important ways as


Users: The users of intranets, being organization employees, know a lot about the organization, its structure, its products, its jargon, and its culture. Customers use Internet sites and others who know much less about the organization, and often care less about it.


Tasks: An intranet is used for an organization’s everyday activities, including complex transactions, queries, and communications. The Internet is mainly used to find information, with a supplementary use being simple transactions.


Type of information: An intranet will contain detailed information needed for organizational functioning. Information will often be added or modified. The Internet will usually present more stable information: marketing and customer or client information, reports, and so forth.


Amount of information: Typically, an intranet site will be much larger than an organization’s Internet site. It has been estimated that an intranet site can be ten to one hundred times larger than its corresponding public site.


Hardware and software: Since intranets exist in a controlled environment, the kinds of computers, monitors, browsers, and other software can be restricted or standardized. The need for cross-platform compatibility is minimized or eliminated, upgraded communications also permit intranets to run from a hundred to a thousand times faster than typical Internet access can. This allows the use of rich graphics and multimedia, screen elements that contribute to very slow download times for most Internet users.


Design philosophy: Implementation on the intranet of current text-based and GUI applications will present a user model similar to those that have existed in other domains. This will cause a swing back to more traditional GUI designs—designs that will also incorporate the visual appeal of the Web, but eliminate many of its useless, promotional, and distracting features. The resulting GUI hybrids will be richer and much more effective.





An extranet is a special set of intranet Web pages that can be accessed from outside an organization or company.


Typical examples include those for letting customers check on an order’s status or letting suppliers view requests for proposals. An extranet is a blend of the public Internet and the intranet, and its design should reflect this.

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