Intranets are hard work

When Wedge asked me to do a lightning talk at Intranet Now about user experience testing on a budget I jumped at the chance.

We’d just inherited our intranet from IT and an upgrade to the platform, a new task-based approach and a new design all made the task a bit daunting. I could soak up as much learning as I could then apply it back at base.

Luckily I was on pretty early in the programme so I could concentrate after I’d done my talk and scribble copious notes which I will now share. There were common threads:

  • intranets available to all staff on all devices, at work, at home and on the move
  • intranets as digital workplaces
  • the importance of UX

James Robertson of Step Two Designs (Australia) – How to make the most of the emerging digital workplace

Technology should allow your intranet to be delivered to staff not on the network.

Business solutions should integrate with the intranet to create an efficient workforce.

The intranet is not a thing – it’s a family/collection of interconnected digital tools.

Design should add value and should be task driven.

Intranet teams should be experts on :

  • change management and adoption
  • how the business ticks and what the pain points are
  • usability, UX and web design

Paul Zimmerman of InvotraIntranet of Things – innovation in the workplace

Just like the Internet of Things collects data for improvement and innovation, so should the intranet collect data to optimise workplace processes.

The Intranet should be a connector of people, content and things. Rooms, desks, fire extinguishers, printers – all are trackable and provide info on their status. Could the intranet be used as part of their management process?

We live in an attention economy where internal comms needs to compete for employee attention.

Kevin Cody of SmallWorlders – Bridging the intranet adoption chasm

There are the three levels of engagement:

  • laggards – need a reason to log on
  • majority – need a reason to return i.e. the tools to help them work efficiently
  • early adopters – need a reason to lead e.g. social features, self-service, collaboration, user blogs

Create credible KPIs to measure engagement.

Intranets need to provide the basics for maximum engagement.

For more information and loads of great whitepapers see

Kristian Norling of Intranätverk – Tips for intranet search

Search is not a project – it’s a lifelong commitment. That’s why it’s called WORK.

You should delete as often as you contribute. Have Delete and Donut Fridays. (I quite fancy Corrs and Cake Tuesdays.)

Watch out for information ROT – Redundant, Outdated and Trivial.

Dates are the most important part of metadata. Based on the date you should delete, archive or keep.

Susan Quain of Care UK – Bringing your organisation with you

As the project changes around you keep the scope clear and continuously revise the comms plan. Tell them what you are going to do. Tell them you are doing it. Tell them you have done it.

Make sure you have some quick wins to gain employee confidence.

Don’t call it a project – call it an initiative.

Lisa's notes

These are @lisariemers rather nifty notes from my presentation

So the rest of my notes didn’t make much sense but here are the soundbites:

  • staff have the right to see organisational news first on the intranet before it hits the papers
  • compliance with business processes is directly related to how far away the employee is to HQ
  • profiles + tagging = tailored content + learning
  • can your intranet be trusted – people only trust things that work so do the basics well
  • is your staff directory up-to-date? Every now and again force staff to update their details before they can use the search
  • the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory – normal person + anonymity + audience = idiot
  • tone does not travel well online. Keep an eye on debates and step in if needed but as a mediator understand all perspectives
  • just making your intranet look good doesn’t mean people will use it
  • turn off the magazine and newsletter and give your intranet a chance. Switch off the offline and the old way of doing things
  • replicate the way people interact with technology outside of work
  • is it time to drop the term intranet? What we really mean is a digital workplace – a digital space that enables employees to work more effectively and efficiently

And there you have it. A full-on day of intranet learning. A huge thanks go to Wedge and Brian for organising such a great event and for recognising that it is needed. Also a massive cheer to the great speakers who passed on their wisdom and to the audience for their feedback and support.

The full line-up and slides are on the Intranet Now website.