Sunday, April 08, 2007

Intranets and User Experience

I was reading few articles on "intranets and its role in employee satisfaction and productity" this artcile from the NNgroup caught my attention.This article talks about a the role of UX in intranets. There are 2 points which presents a compelling case to do a deep dive into this space..

1. Integrating Day to Day work task with the intranets
2. Leveraging the Social Networking Platform.

A must read.......

Some of the key areas for which best practices are :

Encouraging employees to self-publish content
Training intranet publishers
Keeping the intranet up-to-date
Supporting factory-floor employees
Supporting branch-office and in-store users
Onboarding of new employees
Consistent navigation
Intranet favorites / Quick Access lists
Task-based information architecture (IA)
Multilingual intranets; supporting international employees
Mobile intranet access
Multimedia and video on intranets
Collaboration tools and discussion boards
E-learning features on intranets
Internal weblogs
Intranet search
Development process for intranet redesigns
Staffing of intranet teams; where they report in the organization
Updating and maintaining standards and guidelines for intranet design
Intranet branding
Advertising and promoting intranet features
Staff directory and employee profile pages
According to the usability consultancy's findings, too few intranets perform careful studies of productivity improvements, and thus rarely have hard ROI numbers

Branding took a major upswing this year. Whereas in previous years, 59% of intranets were branded, and 41% were simply called 'the intranet', now 80% of the winners had branded their intranet.

"There's no need to overdo the branding: intranets are for internal use, and you're not competing against fifty other intranets," Jakob commented.

Among the notable trends from past competitions are a consistent look and feel across the intranet, special training activities for content contributors, and the use of task-based information architectures.

Video and mobile access on the rise

"Poorly used intranet videos can substantially reduce productivity," Jakob warned. "(...) It's important, for example, to correctly set users' expectations so that they only click through to videos they actually want to see."

"(...) Mobile devices are no longer just phones; they're also intranet extensions - at least when the intranet has features designed for smaller screens. (...) O2 has a special mobile edition of its intranet that's optimized for the BlackBerry and strips the homepage down to a few of its most useful links. (...) Vodafone's mobile intranet scales back content services. (...)"

The Nielsen Norman Group also spotted a contra-trend: "(...) the first good use of overlay graphics (where an image appears on top of the content). On the Web, this is one of the most annoying and repellant advertising techniques. Nonetheless, Allianz Australia effectively uses overlays to highlight and explain useful new intranet features. (...)"

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