Historically, intranets haven’t exactly been at the cutting edge of design and user experience. Issues such as confusing layouts, cluttered elements and 2000s-era stylings have been common, leading to a general lack of excitement whenever your Comms, IT or HR team have announced that they are bringing in a new intranet.
Part of this is understandable, an intranet is a business-critical tool and as such, functionality is more relevant than design (or as your IT department might say “looking pretty”).
However, with the constant evolution of digital technologies and an increasingly demanding user base, good design is no longer a “cherry on top”. It is essential to good user experience.
Benefits of an intranet
A good intranet can enable clear and more consistent communications in your organisation, drive collaboration within the workforce, increase efficiency and better align your staff to your business values.
However, these benefits can only be achieved if your intranet has a good user experience. Confusing information architecture or badly designed pages can not only hold back the adoption of the intranet but can actually drive user-dropoff.
User experience consideration very often comes far too late in the process of moving to a new intranet (or reevaluating a current one). Making use of a simple diagram asking your users what journey they want to take or what they want to see, can be an accurate solution to improve usability and performance.
Benefits of good intranet design
Users not only have extremely high expectations for usability and personalisation but their needs also have to be complemented with other integrations, tools and connections on a day-to-day basis.
Good user experience is no longer optional, it is essential.
When designing your intranet there are several key considerations to take into account:
- What type of people are your users? (tech-savvy, communication driven etc.).
- What tools do they already use?
- What processes/best practices have they got used to as a result?
- What do these users need to do on a day-to-day basis?
- What is most important to them?
- What journey do you want them to take?
- What journey do your users want to take?
By considering these factors, without any complex user journey diagrams or wireframes, you will have greatly improved the user experience on your intranet.
Another thing to consider is consistency. Users expect things to behave a certain way, and if they are confused or something doesn’t work the way they hoped, they will simply not use the product.
Set out your goals at the beginning
Take into account the key considerations mentioned above, perform some user research (even a little goes a long way), and most importantly, set yourself achievable goals which you can accurately measure.
Good user experience is essential
Your users already expect good user experience, so make it a priority! Relate key decisions back to how it will affect the user, drive consistency with style guides, writing guides etc. and build the intranet your users will love and engage with.
Steal ideas (not literally)
There are a lot of people out there, and chances are that some of them have encountered similar issues to you and may have already found solutions to them that you possibly have not thought of. Content platforms such as Medium regularly post content about user experience and user interface design, and while a lot of these may not be directly relevant to your organisation, there are a lot of good ideas that you can appropriate in order to drive evolution in your digital workplace.