Many intranets have one thing in common: they lack direction. The user experience tends to be clunky and employees don’t enjoy using them. As a result, they become a dumping ground for outdated content and excess documentation.
What makes this frustrating is that intranets are intended to help organisations grow and reach their goals. They’re put in place to aid collaboration and communication, yet more often than not they’re unable to do either because of legacy technology and misguided internal structures.
But that doesn’t mean you should give up on your intranet. Trust us, we’ve built hundreds over the years, and trained thousands of individuals to use them.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive to mend a broken intranet and restore its reputation.
Setting a strategic direction
It is clear that intranets need strategic direction, in the same way websites do. Establishing a core strategy is a solid first step. A strategy will help answer fundamental questions such as: Why do we have an intranet? What is its purpose? How does it help us reach our goals? Who uses the intranet? How should it be used? And last, but not least: Who is in charge of it? Answering these questions will help define the role of the intranet and set a direction moving forward, and also help with the administration and ongoing governance of the tool.
- The core goals and sub-goals of the intranet
- Defined KPIs to track progress and performance
- A prioritised list of user tasks the tool is intended to support
- Routines for creating, publishing, maintaining and deleting content
- A description of roles, internal structure and ownership
Cleaning up content
Without a plan, many organisations simply publish content on their intranet and forget about it altogether. The problem with this approach is that the amount of content, and the navigation, inevitably gets out of hand. Employees have to sift through an ever-increasing mass of words and links in order to find what they’re looking for.
So, how do you tidy things up?
A good way to start is by conducting a content audit, also known as a content analysis.
A comprehensive audit will give you a clearer overview of the situation – allowing you to get to work quicker. It will also allow you to:
- Improve content by ensuring that it is relevant and up-to-date – re-writing and tweaking older copy as necessary
- Merge content that has fallen through the cracks due to a lack of co-ordination. You should identify fragmented pieces of content and act accordingly
- Break content down into sections or even separate pages. Even a slight restructure will make it easier for staff to find what they’re looking for
- Delete content that doesn’t serve a purpose or support tasks. This may be hard to begin with, but you’ll feel all the better for it afterwards
On the flipside, not all content need a dramatic overhaul. Content that is relevant and of good quality should be kept as is.
Testing with real users
Usability testing is a great way of acquiring in-depth knowledge about those actively using your intranet, as they produce actionable insights that highlight the things that are likely to cause issues.
As well as being affordable and effective, UT is a great way to get employees involved and encourage contributions. Gaining access to critical test data, with little travel and recruitment involved, is a huge opportunity that you can’t afford to miss out on.