Your intranet sucks. I can help.
Intranets are no longer a place for static information. They exist to help customers do their job—a hub of productivity as well as knowledge.
Most business users now use Office 365. Microsoft are good at providing tools but there’s a lot of confusing overlap. For example, Microsoft Teams overlaps with Skype and other Microsoft products, yet seems to stand alone. Don’t get me started about the the legacy products of Word, PowerPoint and Excel which come from a pre-intranet age.
The job of the intranet designer is to absorb this complexity by creating a unified user experience. We need to focus on the user’s task rather than their tools. By understanding their behaviour, we can create work flows that provide a seamless experience.
Examples of tasks include approving holidays, managing sickness, and booking a room. An employee might find it useful to have their task list, expenses and training programme together in one place.
If you’re at all serious about designing a intranet, you need to be serious about the following areas.
Contextualise the apps
Put the tools where people need them, and where it makes sense. Remove the need to log in to separate apps. Cut out noise without removing engaging content. This is a balancing act. Add value by representing the company culture in appropriate ways.
Give content editors familiar patterns and tools
Think through the task, and test your assumptions with prototypes and real people. Make user testing part of you design process. Consider content and functionality for special audiences.
For example, authors may wish to ghost write under another name, schedule posts and get approval. Uploading an image may require cropping, resizing, and choosing focal points.
Enable community sites for similar people across the organisation
This includes projects, a place for fun, or a forum to exchange ideas. For example, a Recruitment focused site could integrate with a vacancy system, with no need to access it separately.
Make everything easy to find
Customers need to find information, files and people quickly and easily. Consider an advanced search, filtering and boolean filters. The navigation and content must be structured in a way that makes sense to the end user.
It should go without saying that content should be available across a range of devices, from phones, tablets, desktops and everything between (and beyond). Make the application run as fast as possible by removing bloat. Features don’t need to be technically complex to be valuable to users.
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