Design Considerations for Building a Successful Intranet
Sup Suh presented “Design Considerations for Building a Successful Intranet” at UX Camp Fall 2020. Enjoy!
A successful intranet increases productivity and collaboration and it also contributes to a sense of belonging and engagement. However, as multiple content authors publish their content, it usually becomes difficult and frustrating to maintain unless we have a well-defined strategy in place.
This talk, I will talk about content strategies that helped me overcome design challenges of working with big organizations. I will talk about how content strategy can help organizations to turn complex ideas into a simple digital experience, how to empower authors with content system and how to keep the intranet experience sustainable.
Experience Designer, Bounteous
Sup Suh is an experience designer at Bounteous, where his work encompasses everything from user research to human-centered design. He is originally from Korea but now based in Chicago. He has 10 years of experience working in the tech industry as a consultant and a designer. His expertise includes industries such as ecommerce, telecommunications, media, healthcare and automotive. He has a masters degree in Human Computer Interaction from DePaul university.
The following transcript very likely contains typographical errors. Please forgive any mistakes!
Thanks for coming to the talk, I’m gonna talk about designing considerations for a successful internet.
So before we start, I’m a UX designer at bounties. Bites is a mystic digital solution provider, we do marketing analytics, strategy and development work, and also experienced design work, and
I’m from Korea originally, and English is not my first language, so I always avoided doing content work in us, however, I realized it was kind of impossible when I was reflecting on this project, I realized I spent probably less than 10% upon designing, but I was doing more of our content work in this internet project. The
Reason why I wanted to talk about internet projects is because it’s really challenging because from agency perspective, especially, you have to absorb so much information in a short period of time and translated for users, and however, it was really, really rewarding because lots of people are actually invested in it as high visibility projects like senior leaderships are invested, and usually internet are so bad that when you fix, just improve a little bit, they will come and Thank you. So it was really rewarding. So before we start, I’m going to explain what internists… We’re not familiar with it. So internet is a computer network for sharing information and collaboration tools, operational systems, and other computing services within an organization, usually to an exclusion of access by outsider, so it’s a private network and bounties re-use Confluence and some of my clients used SharePoint, and you may use something else.
So what is the role of Internet? Internet plays an important role for employees, first of all, they learn how to love their job, onboarding or process guys for complex IT projects or policies for hospitals, you name it, so these things probably live on internet, and
Also internet can help collaborate with others. When I was in telecommunications industry, I was traveling around the world to make clients from all of the world, but they always wanted case studies from other countries.
So we relied on internet to collaborate with colleagues from other countries, basically, it really helps scale the knowledge across complete… Leadership teams I work with, I use internet as a medium to communicate. So they communicate real information and conduct surveys to the feedback, and also wanted to use internet to communicate what actions they made based on their feedback, and also it helps really helps with engagement, the users or the clients that might test it, they said they’ve wanted to know what is going on in their department level and also wanted to know their local news, so for example, they wanted to be involved in the local events, volunteer events, to get to know their colleagues in the department, or get to know the teams within their geographic location. However, internet are usually really bad, so… Why are they bad? So it comes with challenges, it can get messy, as there are many, many content authors contributing to make up the Internet experience, and they’re usually not UX designers, some of the content authors that I worked with were senior level leaders in the company, and it was really hard to even book a meeting, so making internet experience, UX experience good was not one of their top priorities, so also not having a design system and Governance plan, of course, doesn’t help with Internet experience.
So what are the constant consequences of bad internet? So first of all, it decreases productivity and it’s bad to culture and motivation, and especially with covid, it may remote working, it’s almost more difficult if internet is not good.
So I’m going to give you a real world example.
So these are quotes and comments from some of my clients from different projects I’ve worked on, and surprisingly, they’re very similar across different projects, the courses, we should have one specific source from which we get information instead of receiving info from different places, too much to people with it’s just a lot of clicks, lots of steps to get a form or look up a policy that’s used to perfectly. We rely on our veteran staff heavily, they know the answers when we can find information or unsure of what to do in a situation, the stories are to feel good and rarely actionable and Bellevue how I can be successful in my job, not personalized. There is no formal way in place to receive information, a formal way of a communication needs to be put in place.
Search Results bring back a lot of results that are out of date. I can’t find managers when trying to do something and we need to deliver in a certain specific time, and I can’t… It’s not uploaded and it’s not user-friendly, so it really brings real life consequences if internet is bad, a funny story, my client is that their search didn’t really work well and also… Navigation also wasn’t good. So the most used navigation and the internet was A to Z list, so they had users had to expand A to Z all the size, like hundreds of sites and click and to AFT navigate to where they want to go instead of using search. So I’m going to talk about for key lessons learned next and how I address these challenges. Finding sources of truth was super challenging. Okay, why? So this illustrates basically sums up what was happening in the discovery process, so we had a limited time, but the client kept referring me to the next person, next person, it either ended up in a full circle, or by the time we get to the person, the person might have left the company.
So this illustrates what happened in the discovery process, and there are more challenges simply, the organizations are too big, so the clients that I work with had from anywhere from 40 to 300000 employees around the world, and because the share size, it was really difficult to look up organizational chart or point of contact, and also or changes happened really, really frequently.
The project I’ve worked on within the six month of prosecution, the work changes happened like two or three times. Can you imagine having to update the landing page is navigation and documentations every time it changes? It’s a lot. And
Then also it was really difficult to understand certain processes, simply the processes were too complex, and even when we had official source of truth, teams didn’t really necessarily follow the documentations, and
Then it was changing goals because many stakeholders are involved is they felt like project goals were changing depending on who we talk to him. So how did I address it?
So every time we had a meeting, we started documenting problem statement and also communicated this problem statement and project poles, mistake holders, and then we had a lot of white boarding sessions with stakeholders to interpret things together, so wrong this process, we found that not everything… And the documentation was necessarily true, and we were able to understand it as a group together and co-create solutions together. That was really helpful. And like in any project, I always going to have some kind of content. Inventory before we start on inventory, we annotated when was the last updated… When the site was last updated, and should we merge this sight with some others and should we kill this page? So we analyzed on-site inventory and as well as content inventory, and then one thing that really helped was we were sent the fact that there’s no one size-fits-all at… Sometimes we were trying to find perfect answers, but then we realized it is simply not possible, and
The stakeholders were okay with this, they were willing to put… When the re-org changed them were willing to put the new names of organizations out there first as quickly as possible, even if that meant they’re not liking the new landing page of new departments, so even if the information is not there, they wanted to communicate the source of the truth. So that was helpful. And once we have designed the pages or once we have created some RFs, we created our awareness in marketing emails, we also communicated what’s new in the town hall meetings and newsletter, so they know that we created this official source of the truth. So I’m going to talk about a case study that’s kind of related to this topic. So my client’s IT organization, wanted to create an awareness that it is just just a tech support, they wanted to encourage business leaders to start million dollar projects with IT organization, and for us to learn this process, we analyzed form of process documentation and it was really complex with Rossi charts and streamlines and many, many roles involved and many, many processes involved.
However, in reality, we realize they just needed to find their business units counterpart in a delivery organization to help them guide with the processes, they didn’t need to know all this information just yet, so to encourage business leaders to start the project, we created this marketing site to help them go through the process.
And of course, these information was not written on the website, it just lived on a word of mouth, so we simplify the whole thing and created this experience where business leaders can just come in and use the drop dot and find their counterpart and get them started on starting the IT project, and there was a list of the business leaders counterparts living in Excel documents somewhere, but it wasn’t official by the time there was a person who was studying this list and researching this list for six months, and by the time it was sent out, it was already outdated, so what we did was we digitalized this experience on online, on a website, and we assigned an owner to keep up with this page and made this page as an official source of the truth.
So the next is a role of information design, it also comes with a lot of challenges, simply there are too many, many, many acronyms, and it’s not really inclusive design, because lots of people don’t understand apps if they haven’t been in the company for someone, people… Some people who have been there only know these acronyms, and some people only know not by organization makes not economics, and even when the sites were not using penance, it was really difficult to understand the context of this elite and
The content was very, very… Also try, it was just very informational, not friendly at all, and also information hearty itself was really, really complex, so when we were doing Information Architecture exercise, we try to architecture everything letter enough to organization, but it wasn’t that simple, sometimes it doesn’t… Let her back into the IT organization here because they’re programs and processes and initiatives. So it can get really complex. And also organization HAR itself had really complex Harpy, some had just fled Harar, some had like five levels deep grandchildren. So that was kind of challenging. So how we did it…
So we really leveraged on personal studies and user journeys and top test studies to incorporate them into the navigation.
And first of all, these were really, really powerful tool to work with stakeholders to back up your design decisions with research, and then we really use them to unpack these acronyms and use cases that speak directly to the person and their top tests, and we used more of past-based navigation rather than using apneas to help navigation become more like evergreen. And lastly, we use more human-centered content, and we use that as a principal and use more friendly to novice. What I mean is that before the experience was so dry and boring, it was all about me, it was not about us, so for example, which transformed the language into… So that it’s more friendly and it’s all about you, so for example, instead of saying, learn about us, we transform that into, Hey, find out how we can help you. So it really changed the experience and it was in turn experience into more helpful guiding experience. So I’ll give you more examples.
So this is the example of task-based navigation.
So in my previous job or my client organization, there were science such as HR, racer, library or Job Center, they can all mean the same thing, and it’s kind of hard to know the context, so we unpack these navigations by adding more context and be guided users with navigation, and notice how it is, but you under 10 years is…
And then the next thing that helped was re-designed components for different context, so if you see on the left side, like we design some components that are… That allowed for more context and more descriptions, and then in the middle, you can see this component that can express like organization here, and then we use the right components for the things that are already well known. Some quick actionable, nits. And I will talk about another case study, a client had really, really, really complex processes for project planning, so it was like an IT project planning, and based on different phases of planning process, they had different roles, different teams involved, and you had to, for example, find solution architect and build solution, ah, blueprint, and then find commercial leaders and make business cases, so there were so many rules and templates, and then where you store templates were living in some other places, so it just was really, really a lot and all these things were living in Excel documents or word of mouth or PDF documentations.
So we really translated this complex processes into just digital experience, which is much more simple and visual, so instead of users having to go through documentations, they can just click on main phases, we design this three taps, so they can just go into project phases and then find relevant information more quickly. So the role of information design was really, really key, and then the next change and lessons learned was building a desired system for many, many authors, so it was challenging as well, because simply their information over Lachine, it’s all very content-heavy without images or illustrations. It was all words, and it was really challenging because it was hard to distinguish what the department pays and was sub-page, and I’ll give you more example, for example, on a left side navigation, it could be used for sub-pages, it could be housing, external things, it could be housing documentary, so it could be any combination of this, so basically didn’t have role as many, many users are using this website, and also, because we have varying levels of ex-skills and the authors have varying levels of UX skills, some people were linking really, really pixelated images, and then the copy wasn’t consistent, the last was it consistent, so it was made to be broken.
So there are so many inconsistencies.
And then on top of that, when we built component, the IT came back, first draft came back and it was… The authoring experience is really, really horrible, it wasn’t intuitive, and of course, there were technical challenges of using the CMS platform, but then the labels of these authoring experience was not clear. And then as you can see, this button, self-service links, it should be more like edit or add links, but the copy from the component was hard coded into the button, so it wasn’t really designed for reusable in mind. So we really needed to step back and think systematically and think about users who are this content authors or have so many, many, many content others. So how we addressed it was delivered basically experience strategy, so we created experienced strategy, guy living experience guide that states overall vision and design principles, and then it included a content audit guide that helps content authors make decisions on whether they should keep their page or the PARS or kill their Paris. And then we also created templates for department landing pages and children pages.
And then lastly, we created component guide. In this experience strategy, we created rules so that, for example, you should use this component for local navigation and then use this component for other purposes. So let me give you an example. So this is a component guide, it basically went to use these components and gave them context of when to use certain components, and also how to use this component, so this specific line was using SharePoint and SharePoint works with this column layout, so we guided them to abuse the Copland only these situations. And then also, although this is design system, there were a lot of content work involved, so first of all, coming up with consistent naming conventions so that the components naming yourself reflect distinct functions, for example, this component that you see at the bottom left corner, that’s a multi-level list, because it shows like hierarchy and then we guided the users to use this for the structures or anything that has hirata, also two guides users in multiple touch points of creating content, we basically Reference same assist and match the labels with the language that we’re using, here, so they can easily reference this guide and content authoring system.
Yeah, so the next one is, of course, the challenge came with keeping it sustainable, how do we make all this design sustainable? Yeah, come for a challenge is because they’re… As you know now, there are too many out there to manichaeism the organization, and people… Even when we have rules, people forget to follow or follow up, and also it’s difficult to keep track of changes. So what we do was basically we assigned owners, we created rules that every time you build a page, you need to have a point of contact person and side corner on that page, and then on top of that, we created rule that we assign super owners, so we have the schedule recurring meetings to the super owners and communicate changes and communicate with what needs to change. And that was really, really helpful.
So conclusion, simply, accuracy increases productivity.
People and people spend less time finding things and finding people, they can do their jobs much more at ease when intern it is birth
And second, good internet should increase employee engagement when the content is friendly and helpful, it really changes the tone of the whole experience and having it shows the experience, Choose the core presence that you’re working together, it helps with engagement. And
Then of course, I really realized the content is the king, and I needed to know and designed the content first before we start anything… We start any design. Last Lily, if I can do conscious ring, you can do it too. That confocal.