Your intranet design is as unique as your company. What works for another company may be a complete and utter failure for you, while your favorite features may be utterly unnecessary to someone else. There are some things, however, that can doom your intranet to failure before it ever gets off the ground. By avoiding these design fails, you can help improve your intranet’s effectiveness and increase its usage throughout your company.
1. Employee Needs Weren’t Considered
The greatest failures in intranet design were those intranets that didn’t take into consideration what employees within the company actually needed. Their creators pushed the project through without taking into account the unique needs of their company. An effective intranet is a wonderful thing, but it won’t be effective if you don’t consider the specific needs that can be addressed for your employees.
2. It Loads Too Slowly
You’ve gone out of your way to include as much relevant information as possible on your intranet. There’s a great company calendar filled with everything employees could ever possibly want to know, a database packed to the brim with important documents and forums that have discussion topics on everything imaginable. There’s just one problem: those pages that you’ve put so much time and effort into creating take an eternity to load. Just a few years ago, no one minded having the time to take a walk, complete another task, or even take a short break while a page loaded. Today’s users, however, expect a fast intranet that can keep you with all of their demands and that’s what you have to create. Keep mobile accessibility and speed in mind, too, especially if users within the company frequently access the intranet when they’re away from the office. Be careful to make sure that all images file sizes are kept to a minimum and are compressed as much a possible without losing quality.
3. Navigation Isn’t Efficient
When your intranet is working at peak efficiency, it can be used on a daily basis by your employees to help accomplish their daily tasks in a very efficiently. It’s a great method for sharing training information, the perfect tool for presenting employees throughout the company with access to vital documents and a great vehicle for enhancing internal communications throughout the company as a whole. An inefficient intranet design, however, can destroy its effectiveness. Double-check your navigation to ensure that it’s as intuitive as possible to get the best possible result. The best way to make sure that the navigation is working for your employees to ask the actual users what the best way to group areas of information is for their daily use. It’s amazing how different user perspectives can sometimes be compared to the designers or the staff tasked with setting up your intranet software.
4. Information Delivery Methods
Including video in your posts and as the delivery method for critical employee content is a great way to engage and interest your employees, keeping them focused on what they’re learning instead of just skimming blankly over text.
They’re more likely to remember information that’s presented through video and they develop increased emotional connection with the content. There’s just one problem: videos are inefficient. It’s hard to skip through a video to exactly the right spot, pulling up the answer to a critical question and then returning to work. While it’s important to offer clear, engaging content and video-based content is certainly a vital part of your intranet design, it’s equally important to assess the medium by which each piece of information is delivered. Consider these questions before creating a new video:
- Why are you using a video to convey this information? Is it the best choice, or are you doing it simply to say that you’ve made a video?
- Is this highly visual information that will be best delivered through video? Instructional videos and other content are great opportunities to use video, while the latest information about health insurance policies probably isn’t.
- Is there a better way to deliver this information?
- Is the information contained within the video broken up enough that employees can easily find what they’re looking for?
5. Poor Intranet Search Functionality
How well does the search function really work in your intranet? Are you able to easily and efficiently locate any blog post, forum discussion, or document with a simple search, or is it difficult to locate that information if you don’t already know exactly where it is? By streamlining your search function, you make it easier for every user to find exactly what they’re looking for in a matter of minutes. Check critical keywords and be sure to include variations such as different text cases that employees might try if they’re looking for information in a hurry. Consider asking members of several different departments to perform searches for frequently-used items to assure yourself that you’re referencing all the critical search terms.
6. Failure to Maintain Your Intranet Over Time
Your intranet isn’t something that you can look at once, then never have to worry about again. It’s a growing part of your business. You know that you’re constantly adding new content, but removing old content that is no longer relevant is a critical part of keeping your intranet functioning at peak efficiency. If there are too many duplicate files or too much old, outdated information, you’ll quickly discover that employees are going elsewhere for the answers to their questions. Build regular maintenance into your intranet design from the beginning. Schedule time to take care of those old files, develop a plan that includes regularly sorting through old forum posts, and remember that maintaining your intranet is just as important as the initial steps of creating it.
7. Your Company Culture Doesn’t Encourage Collaboration
Your company culture will have a huge impact on the way your intranet develops. If you naturally encourage collaboration throughout the company, your intranet will become another tool for accomplishing exactly that. On the other hand, if employees throughout the company keep to themselves, handling their projects on their own instead of working toward success together, you’ll quickly find that your intranet remains silent and stagnant. The more collaboration is encouraged throughout the company as a whole, the more communication will take place over the intranet as a matter of course. Be mindful of the risks associated with information silos across your organization and use the intranet to break down the invisible barriers.
8. You Didn’t Incorporate Training
Your intranet design can be as intuitive as it’s possible to make it and yet there will still be someone in your office who can’t get it figured out. Designing an effective intranet isn’t just about providing a solution that you think will work for your needs. It’s about training everyone to use it effectively. Make sure that part of your initial intranet plans includes training for everyone, then target specific individuals to become intranet ambassadors. Give them advanced training and encourage them to talk up intranet usage, walk others through how to use it, and discuss intranet troubleshooting so that everyone can have the most positive intranet experience possible.
Intranet Design Services
If you’re ready to start working from an intranet template that has already been proven effective in countless offices just like yours, contact us for a free intranet demo today. If you are short on time, we also provide a range of intranet design services for companies who wish to outsource areas such as the setting up of sections, pages, forms and users. We’ll work with you to design and deploy an effective intranet that will help increase communication, collaboration, and engagement throughout your office. An effective intranet design isn’t just about the initial template or the first pieces that you put together. You need an intranet that is designed to fit the unique needs of your business not only when it’s first deployed, but in every day to follow. We’re here to help provide the basic template, the support you need to go forward and the time-tested solutions you need to make the most of your intranet.