Ready, Set, Launch! : 8 Ways to Engage Users in Intranet Design
Engage Users. Intranet Design
Intranet design is an art form, not a science. It will look different for every organization and definitely should not look like company x intranet if it’s done well. This means tailoring your intranet solution to your company needs and its users. But it’s not so easy for an IT manager or an HR professional to understand the complexities and job descriptions of each and every user- and nor should you be expected to. The best intranet designers start with engaging their users from the outset. There are a number of useful ways to do that- not just through asking them directly.
Here are our top tips for engaging with your users and employees to start you on your way to understanding your users’ needs and expectations:
Start with a simple survey to understand and benchmark current intranet usage as well as employees’ requirements and ideas. This can also help feed into your business case meeting with the CEO to explain how and why users might use an intranet and what it might add from the point of view of users across departments. Users might not be familiar with the concept of an intranet so questions don’t necessarily have to focus on what users would like to see in an intranet. Instead, what makes their job difficult at the moment, what kinds of things impede their efficiency, what do their day-to-day tasks look like and how do they currently communicate with other employees.
- Focus Groups
Focus groups are an essential part of intranet design. After sending out a general survey, choose a few representatives from every branch of the company/ organization, from every level and from every location/ office to get as much representation as possible. Focus groups will allow you to drill down into some of the findings from the original survey. You can use focus groups to test ideas and explore issues in more detail- what exactly is wrong with the current system and what, in particular would make finding documents easier. How might a search function work? Searching by…
- Card sorting technique
Within your focus groups, you can use a commonly used exercise called “card sorting” to help determine your navigation. Card sorting is a planning method which aims to draw out the structure from an unsorted list of statements or ideas. This exercise is useful for informing how information is stored and accessed and navigation (how pages are organised). Each statement is written on an index card, and participants sort these cards into groups or clusters. The result of the sorting is then analysed to help with making certain decisions with the final result potentially being used as a basis for the site structure.
- Intranet Champions
From the focus groups, you can build an intranet project team, using intranet champions representing every area of the business. You can also use champions to get feedback and work with their teams to develop their team pages and collaboration.
- Run an intranet naming competition
Your intranet name can be of the most important aspects of engaging your users (click here for more). Giving your intranet a memorable name that resonates with its users is one way of promoting the intranet amongst staff. You can even decide to run an intranet naming competition to engage employees and build a sense of ownership.
Feedback! Feedback! After all the effort users have gone to tell you what they’d like to see in an intranet, don’t forget to feedback to all staff on how their ideas are being adopted. A good idea to do this might be to send out a regular email newsletter with intranet news, links to specific news items or updates on the intranet, and any planned improvements.
- Make it easy for people to offer feedback
With the above in mind, make sure it’s easy for users to offer feedback on their end as well. Your intranet is constantly evolving and should be responsive to the changing needs of its end-users. Therefore, it is extremely important to provide an easy way for members of staff to give feedback on its effectiveness, along with any suggestions for improvement. Drop- in sessions every week for the first few months are useful for inviting staff to come and talk about any issues, training they need or share ideas for improvement.
- Training and support
Whilst we understand there will have been a huge amount of work going on prior to launch, launch is not the end. You will need to have built-in regular training sessions, 24/7 support- whether it’s in-house or offered through your intranet provider, make sure you consider this as part of the costs of introducing an intranet as it is essential to its success. Like anything, intranets are subject to bugs, hardware issues and maintenance. Users need the same sort of support. Regular support sessions, trainings and out of hours support may also be needed- some more than others.
If you would like more ideas on how to engage your users or you are considering the introduction of an intranet solution, why not try Precurio. We offer a 30 day trial and have 24/7 support to help you get started.