An organization’s intranet has the potential to be a valued resource for employees. It also can become the most underappreciated and underutilized resource that the organization has invested in. If you want to build a great intranet, you have to connect users to relevant and up-to-date content – quickly. If you are unable to deliver the desired information quickly, users will lose confidence in the intranet. Once users stop using the intranet, they’ll resort to using e-mail to locate and share information. This method is not only slow, but it also doesn’t guarantee that users are working with the most current and up to date information.
If you can bring together users, content, and context, your users will likely use (and LOVE) the intranet. At Kiefer, we have helped build intranet sites from scratch and have fixed broken and poorly designed intranet sites. The goal is always the same. Build an intranet that is easy to maintain and that people will use.
One thing that is important to remember.
A great intranet isn’t just another internal website. A great intranet is an organizational hub where users go for the most important information, to connect with organizational expertise and to collaborate across the organization.
When designing an intranet, our team relies on a proven process and methodology. Our approach ensures that the site we are building will meet the needs of the organization and that the employees will use the site. In this blog, we wanted to share a few best practices that we apply when building or “making-over” an intranet.
Create a Quality User Experience
If your organization’s intranet isn’t being used, has information that is out of date or is difficult to navigate, it is time to consider updating your intranet site. We start the process with an assessment of the user experience. The overall experience should feel unique and personalized. The intranet site should be easy to navigate and the information that is most important to the user should surface without issue. We have examples of intranets that have become critical to effective organizational communication and collaboration. Our team of consultants have helped clients design and build intranets that employees gravitate to and become dependent upon. We have many examples of an organization’s intranet being the first place users go when they start their day and the first place they go when they are seeking specific information. Intranets that we have built offer helpful and frequently used features like;
- Employee directory
- Integration with HR / Payroll systems
- Calendar features
- Internal documents
It is also important to mention that based on the employee’s role, provisioning and permissions can control what users can see and access via the intranet.
More Than an Intranet – It’s a Collaboration Portal
We have worked with clients to build a better intranet and have even taken things a step further by helping organizations deploy collaboration sites for document sharing, co-authoring, and document management. This makes the intranet not only a place to get information, but also a place where employees can collaborate to “do work”.
You Can’t Have a Great Intranet Without Great Information Architecture
Information architecture and site design are also important considerations when building an intranet. We use a comprehensive set of tools to help ensure that information is easy to locate. One of our tools allows us to conduct tree testing. A tree test shows how users get to certain pages and allows us to identify if users are taking the wrong path to find information. The tool we use is by Optimal Workshop and it is a great product.
Another characteristic of a great site is robust and reliable search capabilities. Being able to search the entire intranet site and using keywords helps users find the information they need fast. Our team of consultants have built awesome intranets using SharePoint and have leveraged the powerful search capabilities of the SharePoint platform.
Start with Understanding What Your Users Want and What They Need
Interviewing users is also an important activity in our process. User input is important when we are building intranets. Understanding what users are looking for in their intranet is critical in building something that users will gravitate to. User adoption is dependent upon an intranet that helps users do their job better. Our consulting team has a proven approach to validating user requirements and building sites that meet the needs of users.
Now, this blog doesn’t cover all the things we do to help organizations build an intranet satisfies the needs of their users, but it does cover a few things that are critical if you want users to LOVE their intranet and use it.
We have a recorded webinar on this topic. The webinar is called “Building a Better Intranet” and it was recorded in May. If you’d like to set up time to talk about your intranet, we’d be happy to share some advice and expertise. Contact us at [email protected] or (916) 932-7220.