We all know a bad intranet when we see it: stale content, rigid templates, outdated message boards, uninspiring graphics, poor navigation, ineffective Search function – the list goes on. For many of our clients, their intranet is considered the backbone of their organisational communications, and yet, too often this critical channel falls short of its engagement potential.
Thankfully, we are in the midst of an intranet renaissance. New technology, increased social connectivity and a refreshed approach to corporate communications have evolved the way we think about intranets. While still serving as the hub for company information, a modern intranet can also serve as an interactive tool to inform, educate and engage employees in a two-way dialogue by providing a forum for them to connect with the business and each other.
If your company is looking to more fully engage its people, consider the following best practices in current intranet design to get the full value out of this important channel:
1. Don’t Overdesign
- Despite recent high-tech trends, the overarching rule for creating an engaging intranet design remains the same: keep it simple. Simplicity allows employees to efficiently consume relevant information and ensures that remote employees can load the site quickly and easily.
- Design architecture should be intuitive to enable speedy location of information. Global navigation should only appear in the banner and include six to eight parent categories that reflect business needs rather than the organizational chart. Redundant links that cross-promote content and a search engine in the banner make site navigation easy and efficient.
- Visual simplicity is also important. Design should reflect the corporate brand while maintaining clean colors and images. Limit page layout to three columns of content and remember that the ideal text-to-white space ratio is 70/30.
- Simple design can be engaging, brought to life through rotating carousels promoting priority content, a wealth of visuals and quick “grabber” headlines that will encourage employees to read further. Strategic shading behind certain stories can also entice employees to peruse priority content.
2. Incorporate Video
- Video content is becoming more popular on intranets, used increasingly for training and tutorials (which is another trending feature of modern intranets). In fact, newer intranet platforms now have the capability for employees to self-record and submit videos. That content can then be used to create welcome or introductory videos for teams or departments that will help employees learn about different areas of the business. This functionality also proves especially useful during employee video submission campaigns.
3. Get Social
- Today, social functionality and connectivity are considered mainstream, and with the rise of platforms like Yammer and Facebook at Work, merely connecting to external social accounts is no longer enough. Full integration of social capabilities such as tagging, sharing, posting, liking, personal profiles, and team and group pages, is quickly becoming the norm.
- Intranets can be used to foster engagement using robust personal profiles on the employee directory. Consider running an intranet adoption campaign where departments or teams engage in a friendly competition to have the most complete profiles. Encourage participation by featuring or rewarding departments that have the most employees with 100-percent complete intranet profiles.
4. Invest in an App
- Given the ubiquity of smart phones, many companies have made their intranet page mobile-friendly or developed a corresponding app. The benefit of having an app is that employees will be able to easily access the intranet with one touch, rather than having to type the URL in their phone’s browser. The ability to access company news on the go is critical for dispersed workforces, especially ones where employees are not always in an office setting.
5. Consider the Intranet a Workspace
- The intranet has long been a place to reward and recognize employees for their work. Now, intranets are going beyond “employee spotlights” to foster a more open, collaborative atmosphere for employees by including functionalities such as drop boxes, knowledge-sharing platforms, team forums and collaborative workspaces.
6. Secure Executive Sponsorship
- Successful employee adoption of a new intranet or functionality is greatly influenced by executive championing. Secure champions at the executive level by including them in the process from the beginning; for example, when selecting a provider or releasing a new functionality, create and circulate a list of desired uses and features to solicit input from key executives. Consider targeting one specific executive as the “Intranet Champion” and visibly engage him or her in new initiatives. For example, feature that individual as the first complete profile and in a welcome video on the site.
7. Solicit User Feedback
- As always, ongoing feedback is an important aspect of ensuring that employees continue to be satisfied and engaged with your intranet. Leverage surveys, focus groups or polling devices on a regular basis in order to uncover areas of opportunity to increase engagement and user satisfaction with your intranet.
- Before revamping or upgrading your intranet, conduct user testing with a representative set of employees. While observing, ask employees to test the new format or functionality to understand the extent of its intuitive design and ease of navigation.
Internal communications is critical to enabling employee performance in support of business objectives. Investing in a modern, effective intranet ensures more opportunities for meaningful employee engagement – and that is a worthwhile return that will pay dividends for your company.
Experts at FTI Consulting work with clients to transform and leverage their intranets for maximum employee engagement and to drive efficiency.
If you would like to discuss how we could potentially support you with the design, development or delivery of a leadership development programme please contact:
Email: [email protected]
Telephone:+44 (0)20 33195725