You wouldn’t believe the number of times I have heard people say that when they want to find out about their own company, they use Google…
Case in point – I was at a well-known appliance store the other day, that has branches throughout the country.I asked the girl at the checkout whether there was a store in one particular city. While she looked furtively at her screen, I took a peek over her shoulder. It was the company’s intranet. I advised her to open up a new tab in her browser, go to Google, and type in the name of the store plus the word “branches”. She obediently followed my instructions, and two minutes later she was able to give me an answer.
I won’t talk about the magic that Google performs to bring you the information that you want. I do want to talk, however, about why people are going to an outside facility rather than using the companies own resource…findability and usability.
Findability does not just mean being able to search for something and getting results. It also means that the information on the intranet is structured in a logical way that allows people to navigate to information quickly. Often, little thought has gone into the way information should be presented:
What information do the users (in this case all staff ranging from back office workers to those at the client interface) need access to?
Analytics will show you what is being accessed the most. Well thought surveys can return valuable information. Even talking to staff members individually,or in groups, can add a lot of value.
How can the navigation structure be set up so that it is intuitive?
Use the feedback you got. Perform a card sort to help build up a understanding of how the staff want information grouped. Put together a “mock navigation”,using a suitable tool such as Optimal’s Treejack, and see how easy it is for user’s to find what they are looking for.
What other ways are there that the information can be accessed quickly? Short-cuts, quick links, FAQs.
Create a screen mock-up, and test how easy it is for staff to find the information. Use a tool that allows this to be simulated on-line, and set up real-life scenarios involving staff members with different functions to determine whether improvements can be made.
Pay attention to the questions that are often asked by staff.
These will usually turn up questions that get repeatedly asked. “How is xyz done?”, “Where do I find information on our widgets?”. These questions make up the basis for the FAQs or a wiki.