In April of 2016, I wrote about our ambitious project of re-building our corporate intranet. Our previous site had become a dumping ground of information that was poorly maintained and was woefully out of date. During the project, we removed nearly 85% of the content, upgraded a number of internal applications, made the site user friendly and improved the overall usability. We held focus groups and engaged junior, intermediate and senior staff in our decision to ensure the product we delivered would meet their needs.
In May this year, we asked staff for their opinion of the new site.
It is important to stop here for a moment and consider what we did. Not only did we include staff in some of the initial design considerations, we gave them enough time to work with the intranet to really determine what is working and what is not. By engaging staff on a platform that they use daily, we are more likely to deliver a product that meets their needs. Firms are improving at asking clients for opinions, however we are still way behind at asking our own people.
So what did we learn?
For starters people like the site, and as a communication tool it is being used as we anticipated. We likely could have learned some of that from user analytics but what we could not have learned are some of the frustrations staff still have. For example, we thought our six categories (Corporate, People, Clients, Projects, Services and Apps) were pretty self-explanatory, but we were wrong. Staff wanted a description for each area of the site beyond just a site map. One of the apps that we had to replace, as it would not work on the new site, is still not as well liked as the old version – I say well “liked” as it is actually used just as much as the old version.
It is not enough to simply ask staff their opinion; we had to act on it. We immediately moved some of the content, renamed one area and developed a page for how the intranet is organized. We shared these changes through the main banner on the intranet (obviously), through our monthly communication email and at office meetings. We have developed an educational program around some of the applications so that staff understand just how much information is at their fingertips. And we will be upgrading the platform to the latest version to help ensure we do not end up with an irrelevant intranet again.
In 2016, I closed off the article with a thought. A corporate intranet is the number one avenue for sharing information to all staff. Doesn’t it make sense to ensure that the experience they have on this vital platform is a positive one? I would say that still rings true a year later.