You spent a lot of time and money on your intranet, but you know it’s difficult to find what you need. Fewer employees are using your intranet. Bounce rates are up. Time spent on various pages is down. And you hear complaints in the hallways.
Whether you’re in IT or Internal Communications, you can help lead an effort for improvement by analyzing what’s wrong. Although you can spend money using tools, like UserTesting.com or design conference rooms as user labs, we have a few ideas on how to conduct usability affordably.
What is usability or user experience (UX)?
Usability is how easy something is to use, in this case your intranet. Behind usability are other important indicators like usefulness and the ability for employees to be productive.
Jakob Nielsen, a UX website expert, conducts usability tests on intranets often. Although they’re getting better, they’re still not optimal. In fact, he says large organizations can save $4 million dollars in productivity by revamping their intranet.
1. Ask employees to conduct user tests
Get volunteers in IT and Internal Communications to help lead these user tests. Ask diverse employees to act as users; these users should vary in age, race, computer skills and job roles.
Create users test by determining common tasks. Your test shouldn’t be more than 10 tasks and ideally is only five. Give them a piece of paper where you’ve written out what needs to be completed.
Encourage employees to be totally and completely honest. It’s common place for employees to want to spare your feelings and to downplay issues. It’s also common for users to feel like they’re not doing the right things, even if it’s not their fault.
Time and record (iPhone or Android) them completing each task while you watch. Take notes especially where people have issues.
2. Review trends and prioritize
After the entire round of testing is over, review where people struggled; trends will emerge. Maybe everyone had issues getting to the org chart or benefits, but found your cafeteria menu without fail. Maybe they found your IT page quickly, but had no idea how to enter a trouble ticket for the Help Desk.
Talk with your peers who helped conduct the test and prioritize the list based on what might help employees be more productive. For example, finding org chart information may really help.
3. Create mock ups
Occasionally, you’ll know exactly what the solution might be. Your users may even all tell you the same idea to solve a problem. If that’s the case, you probably don’t need mock ups.
But sometimes you do. Create a wireframe of the page or if it’s easy, do a quick online version. Then, conduct the test again with a fresh group of diverse employees. Do they have the same issues? Do new challenges emerge?
Continue until you feel confident the page or navigation has improved significantly.
4. Launch, announce and promote
If it’s a big change, schedule the change with various teams. Then deploy the changes.
Don’t overlook communicating the change, especially to the relevant users. For example, if the IT section of the page has been updated you’ll want to ensure your key audience – IT employees – know.
Be creative about how it’s announced and don’t forget to recognize your user group who helped you get the page right. By giving them kudos, you’re not only acknowledging them, but encouraging them to share it with their work buddies.
Watch the metrics and remember when you made the changes. You’ll see, hopefully, positive trends as the days and weeks roll by.
Also know, the great thing (and infuriating thing!) about a website – internal or external – is that there’s always room for improvement. Continue to tweak as you have time. And when stats drop again, go back to step 1.
Need more ideas?
Usability and UX gurus exist across the Internet – Jakob Nielsen, Jared Spool and Steve Krug all give ideas on how to improve UX as well as how to conduct easy, low-cost usability tests.If your organization is resource-short or needs assistance revamping your intranet, we can help.