UX and Your Intranet Portal

In our recent blog post, “The Difference between UX and UI”, we explained the difference between User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) and how they work together. For those who haven’t read it, I suggest you stop and read it first as the article provides a solid introduction to UX. For those that have, let’s continue on.
Now that you have a sense of what UX is, let’s discuss its importance and why failing to consider UX could be detrimental to your intranet’s success. We’ll also discuss how we can improve the experience of the intranet portal for your users.

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, says, “Productivity is the engine of human progress—it is what propels our society forward. The promise of technology is to help us get more done, with less effort.”

Intranet portals are at the center of your organization. They provide a plethora of tools that directly relate to employees’ success. So if we apply what Satya says in the above quote to your portal, then the purpose of your intranet should be to help your employees get more done with less effort. This is truer than ever at PixelMill. Through our user-experience design process, we work with you and your users to build an intranet that addresses your employees’ unique needs, benefiting the organization as a whole. From a business standpoint, if we can improve the productivity of your employees using a new or improved intranet, then we have directly improved the profitability of your company as a whole, ensuring your return on investment for your intranet.

PixelMill UX Process
UX Process at PixelMill

Serving multiple purposes and storing a variety of important company information, Intranets are often more robust and complicated than a typical single-intent public-facing website. So, it deserves special care and attention. Here are some tips on how you can improve the experience your users have with your portal:

  1. Create a solid strategy
    Answering the simple questions below can help you establish a solid foundation to begin strategizing the needs and requirements of your intranet. PixellMill provides services to dive deeper into actual user needs to truly uncover the most effective ways to make your portal a fine-tuned, productive tool. Want to learn more about this discovery, check out this informative Blog post by our Business Analyst, Chloe Fox, that explains the steps we take during our Discover + Define stage. This step is critical and should never be overlooked as it paves the way for your intranet.

    1. Why do you have an intranet? What’s it’s purpose?
    2. How does it help the company as a whole?
    3. Who is the intranet intended for? Why and how should they be using it?
    4. Who is in charge of managing and maintaining the intranet?
  2. Clean up your content
    If you’re updating an existing intranet, some content clean up is vital. Start with an audit of your current content. A content audit is basically a collection all of the pages and files that are on your intranet. These are typically sorted by certain criteria. (A good guide on Content Audits and how to perform them can be found at UX Mastery, here. Why perform content clean up? It leads to faster and improved search results, a better understanding of how content is used and the management of it, better overall usability through the removal of unneeded content, and it helps you plan for future content.
  3. Understand your users
    User experience is all about—to the surprise of no one—your users. You’ll want to solicit feedback from actual users of your intranet to uncover what’s working for them and what’s not. By learning how employees are utilizing your current intranet, you can pinpoint areas that could be improved. Also, consider that your users may have some underserved needs that your intranet should address. Just like any successful brick and mortar business, a company’s digital workspace must attract users, make them feel at home, and encourage them to stick around. Delighting users engages and captivates them, which directly correlates to user adoption. “Build it and they will come” simply doesn’t apply in the digital world. You must consciously build it to be useful, effective, and enjoyable, and THEN they will come and stick around.
  4. Brand your intranet
    Give it a name. Simply calling it ‘the company portal’ doesn’t suffice; give it an identity. Keep it short and make it relatable—it should speak to your company values and culture. Without thoughtful design, a portal can look like a “default” page, which sends a message to your users whether you think it does or not. Utilize company branding guidelines to bring a sense of familiarity over to the intranet portal, making it an extension of your organization. Adding these little details may not seem necessary, but it will greatly improve the familiarity and adoption of the intranet. Your company is unique and your portal should reflect this. Perception is reality. This powerful adage is proof of the value and importance of taking time to make your portal reflect who you want your organization to be, and how you want your employees to relate to it. Through proper use of design, you can attract your users, make them feel comfortable there, direct them to use it the way that you need them to, and help them do their job more efficientlya win-win for everyone.
  5. Continuously improve 
    So, you’ve completed steps 1-4 and launched your new and improved intranet. So you’re done now, right? WRONG. Every company should plan to continuously update and improve their intranet. As your business continues to grow and adapt, your intranet should evolve with it. Continue to gather feedback from your users and see what can be improved further. Create a plan to improve the portal on a consistent basis. Set goals for features in the future and get rid of stale content through regularly conducted content audits. Keeping your tools sharp is always important, and for any successful intranet, maintenance is key. If you ignore this, then your intranet may be great for a while but ultimately will fail in the long run. So, do not forget this important step when creating your intranet strategy.

Your employees time is likely your organization’s most valuable resource. Don’t let it go to waste due to a poor user experience of your intranet portal. Take the time to assess the user experience of your intranet and help your employees get more done in less time and effort.
Want to learn how PixelMill can help you formulate a strategy and develop a successful portal that your employees will love? Ready to make your employees more effective, efficient, and happy? Contact us today!

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