Make your intranet a useful starting point rather than a necessary evil
“If we build it, they will come…” – a common phrase made famous by a movie, but is it accurate? As it relates to intranets – absolutely not.
Whether you’re building a new system or altering an existing one, anytime change is introduced, you can expect a fair amount of push-back from users who have gotten accustomed to using current systems.
Use the following steps before, during and after your project to ensure users are excited with you for the changes they are about to embark upon.
Follow these 5 guidelines
1. Don’t blindside your users with change
Communication is key. Keep users informed throughout the project so they can mentally prepare for any big changes about to happen.
Use email communication to provide users with manageable bits of information.
Place posters in key areas where users gather for social activities to encourage peer-to-peer communication.
Corporate newsletters are the perfect place to spotlight some upcoming changes since most people read it.
Proper communication helps deal with questions as they arise and allows you to micro-educate your users on new concepts over time rather than overwhelming them during launch time.
2. People like to feel involved
Everyone wants to feel like their input makes a difference. Involve your users early so they feel like they played a key part in building a system tailored for them. This will drastically increase user adoption and ease change management, especially where big changes (new site structure, different content creation rules, new tools, etc.) are introduced.
This can be done in any way that solicits feedback:
System feedback survey (ask questions about the current system and allow people to dream about what they would like in the new system),
Mood boards (where branding is a factor, consider giving people look and feel exercises),
Post-it note exercises (where users stick notes on a wall with their expectations of the new system).
When users feel involved, they also feel partly responsible for the new system, and will therefore be more patient with minor issues that may arise, as is common in new system rollouts.
3. We are the champions!
Identify champions by finding leaders from across the organisation to communicate changes and keep their users up-to-date with the progress of the project.
Stakeholders are generally in senior management, which comes with a busy schedule. Identify champions who fulfil two roles:
Educate users on system progress and proposed changes.
Provide a central source of feedback from users to stakeholders.
This communication channel is key to help the core team manage communications and provides them early access to concerns raised by users.
4. Educate and train
No system is 100% intuitive out of the gate.
Users need a base understanding of the technology used.
Users should understand why content should be tagged to make it more searchable.
Users should have a base understanding of the structure of the system.
Every organisation is different, so training should be tailored to the organisation. Keep in mind that over time, you may have new hires who have never seen a system like yours, and employees that are not as tech-savvy as those building the system.
5. Use your social outlets
Today’s user is different from the same user 10 years ago. Everyone is on some sort of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), so you can leverage these channels in your new system to allow people to get to know a bit more about each other through corporate social media. You can use social media in many ways.
Welcome new hires.
Social groups and charities.
Praise co-workers for hard work or help.
Provide peer-to-peer support on any type of issue.
Keep your users informed with structured and regular communication.
Involve your users, even if some decisions have already been made. It’s never too late to get perspective on what your users want.
Identify champions to act as a communication channel between users and stakeholders.
Educate your users, so they have the basic tools to get around and understand why certain processes are put in-place.
Provide social outlets for people on your intranet. Using your intranet for more than just pushing news and content will make it an invaluable portal for users.
As the UX Lead of Intelogy, a company that is in the top 5% of all Microsoft Partners world-wide, being a thought-leader and advocate for users is a large part of my role. I enjoy staying abreast of the ever-changing landscape of Office 365 and new features rolled out in the new tools provided by Microsoft to streamline cloud development and want to share all that with YOU!