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2 Keys To Creating An Effective Corporate Intranet Solution

 

It’s dangerous to go into any corporate intranet implementation with assumptions. Never assume you know how your users are going to use the intranet; instead, put the time and effort into user experience (UX) research.

It’s dangerous to go into any corporate intranet implementation with assumptions. Never assume you know how your users are going to use the intranet; instead, put the time and effort into user experience (UX) research.

Here are two keys to creating an effective intranet solution through a research-based design process:

1) Use both attitudinal and behavioral research: Different approaches to user research answer different questions; some produce qualitative or anecdotal information, while others produce more quantitative data. No single research method is going to provide all of the insights you need, so it’s important to choose a combination of techniques to get the full benefit of sound UX research.

Attitudinal research focuses on what users say they do, while behavioral research focuses on actual user actions.

For attitudinal research, you might choose to interview users and stakeholders (preferably in separate groups), asking them to talk about the way that they work in order to gain a better understanding of the issue that they’re trying to solve. The interviews may focus on what technical limitations are contributing to their problems, but try to avoid talking about solutions or specific technology. A common method for behavioral research is called contextual inquiry, in which you observe users in their work environment and ask them questions about their actions and tasks.

Using both behavioral and attitudinal methods is important because there’s often a gap between what people say they do and what they actually do, even if that gap isn’t necessarily intentional or malicious. Identifying those gaps helps you find opportunities to make sure that your business objectives align with actual user needs. To get balanced results from your UX research, make sure to distinguish between stakeholder research and user research. As much as possible, treat them as completely different groups.

2)
Frame the problems you want to solve: Once you’ve completed your user and shareholder research, it’s time to summarize your findings. It’s one thing to have lots of data and take notes from an interview, but not everyone has the ability to make sense of the data from that interview.Essentially, the goal is to frame the problem by creating an overview that helps you understand the scope, showing the various themes, issues and problems that emerge from the research, and subdividing problems by type. Once the consultant interprets the data from the research, they generate hypotheses and test their validity.For example, let’s say that a common theme in your user research indicates a findability problem with certain types of records. You could then show how this findability problem presents a barrier for one of the business objectives, such as employee engagement and collaboration. When possible, frame these problems in technology agnostic ways.Once you’ve framed the research results in this way, you start framing potential solutions for further testing and verification. At this stage, you’re not looking for a solution that’s going to make every part of your business more successful. You’re looking for ideas to test for the length of the project. Solutions come later.

Always remember that a corporate intranet is a toolbox and not a turnkey solution. For that reason, a successful implementation requires thorough research from the start.

Learn more tips for creating a successful corporate intranet by downloading our free e-book, “Designing A User-Centered Intranet For SharePoint Online”.

 

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