The Importance of Intranet Usability: A Note to the C-Suite

As an executive, wearing many professional hats is part of your job. On any given day, you might be dealing with budget issues, hiring decisions or project deadlines. However, your ability to multi-task and handle this myriad of responsibilities makes your job both rewarding and challenging.

As a member of the C-suite, you also understand the importance of putting your employees in the best position possible to succeed. Executives are responsible for making significant company decisions and shaping corporate culture. But ultimately, all organizations succeed or fail based on the level of performance and productivity they receive from their teams. With so many other important responsibilities to tend to, executives run the risk of de-emphasizing the importance of providing employees with the quality tools they need to succeed.

The era of Big Data is in full swing as organizations generate, store and leverage ever-increasing quantities of information … and a good portion of this is related to internal processes. While this glut of information—everything from best practices documents to call center scripts—can offer insights for employees across the entire organization but tends to lose much of its value if users struggle to locate it. Similarly, another major component of intranet usability is making sure it’s up-to-date with correct information. Outdated or incorrect material may lead employees astray when they attempt to perform their jobs according to company standards.

Intranet usability guidelines can be different for every company in every sector, as each has its own unique challenges and procedures. There are, however, some fundamental building blocks that all organizations should keep in mind as they think about building a new intranet or overhauling an existing system:

Intuitive Search Functions 

Nothing is quite as important for employees than the ability to quickly locate the content they need. For example, an inexperienced customer service rep receives a request that they have never come across before. To resolve the situation quickly and satisfactorily, the agent must be able to find the company’s guidelines for such a request inside the intranet in seconds. If he or she is unable to locate that information easily, the call can begin to spiral out of control quickly. Ineffective, counterintuitive search functionality is among the most common pitfalls of intranet usability.

Robust User Profiles

For maximum intranet value, organizations must ensure that users fill out their profiles as completely as possible. In large corporations particularly, employee profiles make it easier for upper management to locate and share information with subject matter experts for specific projects. User profiles are also useful for new employees who want to learn names, titles and responsibilities of key stakeholders.

Creative, Clean and Clear User Experience Design

Aesthetics are another major component to intranet usability. Whether they are conscious of it or not, employees react to how the pages look and feel. An organization that prides itself on maintaining a colorful, open office space may struggle to gain user adoption for an intranet that has a black and white, vanilla feel to it. The ease with which users are able to navigate the intranet as a whole, and its individual pages, is directly tied to the way pages are constructed and laid out.

Social Capability

Giving users the ability to comment on a peers’ profile page or “like” a co-worker’s posted project or document is an effective team-building and collaboration tool. Enterprise social capability enables employees to provide constructive feedback on a specific task or simply acknowledge a teammate’s job well done. This functionality helps build a sense of community inside an organization and between employees working in geographically disparate offices.

Listing these foundational aspects of intranet usability is often far simpler than bringing the vision to life. Additionally, organizations looking to build or upgrade a company intranet may find it difficult to identify exactly which features and functionality—beyond the basics listed above—meet its unique needs.

At UpTop, we have experience with enterprise-level, intranet design and development projects. Contact us today to discuss the unique needs of your internal communication system.