Many companies widely use intranets, and many companies that do not have an intranet are considering creating their own. Due to extensive functions and structure, the user experience (UX) plays a key role in an effective intranet. In this post, I will highlight ten aspects that will improve your intranet in terms of usability or make you aware of what to pay attention to when building an intranet from scratch.
1. Learn the users' needs
Intranets are dedicated to company employees. You can get to know such groups of people in detail and define their needs in the company reality. Every company is different; every one of them has different needs. The same applies to intranets. They should all be tailored to the needs of users and adapted to the company's operations as well as its relations with employees. Another company may not use a set of functions that will work great for one company. The fact that the employee community is a closed group that facilitates profiling the intranet functionality. You do not create it for users that are strangers with one another, but for employees you are familiar with and about whom you know a lot. By combining the knowledge of the company's needs and the specific needs of the employees, you can build a tailor-made project.
2. The intranet is content based
The main role of an intranet is to deliver and collect content. For this reason, building and developing it for the employees means focusing on creating interesting content. If the employee does not find interesting or useful content on this website, they will not use it. Even if the intranet will be technically perfect, as well as visually pleasing, but its content will not be engaging for the reader, then it will become a dead place over time. No one will visit it.
3. The home page is the most important
In the process of designing and creating an intranet, special attention should be paid to the home page. This is the most important subpage of the entire website, as well as the one that the user visits first. It is important that it is legible, and that the employee can conveniently find the content that interests them. For this reason, convenient navigation and a clear graphic layout are crucial. The intranet's home page should have the most important functions right at the front. Thanks to this, the user will not waste time searching around the website.
4. The intranet's design should be consistent with the brand design
The intranet should become an integral part of the company. Therefore, just like the other company "products", it should be visually consistent with the brand's appearance. As a result, the employees will feel that an intranet is a tool connected to the company and its activities. Paying attention to image consistency gives more relevance to the intranet, so the employees will have the feeling that the intranet is important, and not just a redundant gadget.
5. The intranet is not a closed project
The intranet should grow just like the company, and its variability should be embedded into its very DNA. Over time, it may turn out that the needs and expectations of the employees change, and therefore it is worth changing the website in terms of functionality. This is why the structure of the intranet should assume its variability and flexibility in introducing new functions and changes into the existing ones.
6. Monitor your intranet
In relation to the previous point, it is important to monitor the website traffic and observe the behaviour of the employees. The knowledge gained during such observations will help to understand how the users use the intranet. Thanks to the use of tools for analytics (e.g. Google Analytics or HotJar), you obtain information about what content is being searched for, how much time the users spend on specific subpages, at what times they use the intranet, on which devices they open your website, and many others. Active analysis of the available data will make it easier to understand the user's behaviour and adjust changes to their needs. Thanks to this knowledge, you are able to emphasise the functions that are needed the most, but also to react when the other functions are not being used. It may be that the employees have a problem with reaching certain subpages.
7. Photos and pictures in intranet are important
As the intranet administrator, you should ensure that it is pleasing to the eye and visually diverse. In order to give character to the content being published on the website, you should use a large number of photos and illustrations. All research and analyses show that users are more likely to use pages containing eye-catching photos in addition to the text. Try to enrich every entry and article with images. Even dull entries to which a photo illustration was added are much more pleasant to read than an overwhelming wall of text. Printed glossy magazines may be used as a good example and model. Readers love to look at photos – do not forget about this.
8. Search engine, hashtags, and categories in an intranet
In addition to convenient navigation within the intranet, it is important that it has a convenient search engine. Thanks to it, the employee will be able to enter the searched phrase in the window and quickly find the desired content. In addition to this, it is good to use hashtags and categories. Every entry and article should be correctly assigned to them. This will allow the user to find the content related to the given topic. The search engine must allow for searching for entries related to a given category or hashtag.
9. Take care of the provided content
Building an intranet platform for publishing company content is only a single stage. It is very important for an intranet to be "live", and the key here is to publish new content systematically. Employees should be aware that when they log in into the intranet, there will be new texts and information waiting for them If the articles being published will appear very rarely and irregularly, the users will not remember to visit the intranet, and thus it will become forgotten.
10. The intranet on mobile devices
Like other websites, intranets should work well on mobile devices. Some employees will use the intranet at a company desk while working, and others will use a smartphone in the office bistro during a lunch break, or use a tablet outside of the office (due to the nature of the workplace). Everyone should be able to access the content comfortably.
A good intranet is the one that the employees actually use. When creating such a website, you should focus on providing a tool that will be actively used by the team. The above tips highlight the underlying issues related to user experience. However, this is only a part of effective UX improvement efforts. Other issues that should be considered are related to specific needs and should be considered individually. An experienced team of designers and programmers will be able to create a "tailor-made" solution.