Good intranet design is vital for driving user engagement and adoption among your employees.
The surge in home working in the wake of COVID-19 has scattered workforces. With two thirds of employees feeling more disconnected at home according to a 2021 survey by the Royal Society for Public Health, your intranet needs to work harder than ever before.
In other words, your intranet software needs to provide more than a company news page with a few quick links to corporate resources. It needs to be a hub for your entire internal communications and employee engagement strategy, whilst connecting team members across multiple locations.
If your intranet is falling short in these areas, now is the time to consider an intranet redesign.
Intranet design is about so much more than making your homepage look nice – good design holds the key to maximum user engagement with your intranet. If your intranet is badly designed or unfit for purpose, no one will use it.
By extension, good intranet design is fundamental to unlocking all the benefits a modern intranet can bring – greater collaboration, heightened employee engagement and more efficient business processes.
Here are three reasons why your intranet design is so important for user engagement.
1. Good intranet design makes your app look the part
You want your employees to use your intranet app. If they don’t, you won’t reap any of the benefits offered by modern intranets and you’ll have wasted the time and money spent implementing it.
First impressions count here.
According to research by WebFX:
- 94% of your website’s first impressions come from its design
- 75% of website credibility comes from design
This is as true for intranet pages as it is for customer-facing websites and apps. If it doesn’t look the part, people won’t trust it.
This doesn’t mean that your intranet needs to look overly fancy – but it should be clean, easy-to-use and functional. This allows your workforce to see it as modern, relevant and usable and increases buy-in right from the get-go.
A great intranet looks like a great intranet. If your intranet looks like a relic from the early noughties, with text-heavy pages, bright blue hyperlinks and a visible table structure, your employees won’t engage with it.
Not sure where to start? Check out some of our intranet homepage designs for inspiration.
(Intranet design example. Source: claromentis.com)
Make it mobile optimised
If you have a lot of on-the-ground employees whose jobs don’t involve sitting at a computer all day, mobile intranet is the easiest way to reach them. At its best, mobile intranet is fast, convenient and fun to use, making your non-office employees’ work lives significantly easier.
Mobile users are likely to disengage, however, if your intranet doesn’t look usable on their devices, so poor design for mobile is also the easiest way to disengage them.
Make sure your intranet looks good on mobile by taking a responsive design approach, or by making sure the intranet software package you choose can optimise your site for mobile.
You might want a native intranet app if you have a large on-the-ground workforce – but a mobile-responsive intranet site can work very well too. Ask potential providers what they offer.
2. Good design saves time
For your employees to engage with your intranet – and for your intranet to increase efficiency – it should be faster to complete HR tasks using the intranet than through traditional means.
There are two main ways to achieve this:
The app itself should be easy to navigate, with a consistent structure, clear navigation and easy-to-follow information hierarchy.
The business processes behind the app (e.g., requesting leave or benefits management) should work more efficiently than your previous, manual processes.
Your business processes should work efficiently behind the scenes
If, for example, your intranet’s leave management tool is difficult to navigate, takes forever to load and displays information in a confusing manner, it will waste more time than it saves. It may also drive employees back to legacy ways of requesting leave.
Similarly, poor process design that leaves requests unprocessed for a long period of time will cause resentment and workarounds – even if the interface itself is a dream to use. Make sure the right people are getting the right notifications at the right time – otherwise even automated processes start to fall apart.
The key to saving time? Simplicity
It’s tempting to think that ‘good intranet design’ means throwing everything at your app so that it does absolutely everything you can possibly think of.
However, too much can be as damaging as too little.
Rather than adding lots of beautiful-but-complex features to lure employees in, it’s more important to get the basics right. As The UX Design Collective’s 100 Design Lessons for 2021 puts it: “Obvious trumps clever. Design is about prioritization: saying no and taking out what’s non-essential.”
Designer Frank Chimero expands. “It’s impressive that one app can contain wings upon wings of rooms, forever branching out into infinite space and – potentially – utility. But each addition makes cohesion and comprehension less likely for users. If you aren’t experiencing the additions and edits incrementally, the app turns to gobbledygook. It’s too dense to decipher. Even if one does follow along, it’s easy to be sceptical about each addition.”
To maximise engagement, keep it attractive, basic and compartmentalised.
3. Social intranet design keeps users coming back
What makes you keep checking social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?
Partly, it’s the notifications – perfectly timed to alert you to the things you care about. Partly, it’s being able to keep up with friends and see what they’ve been up to. Partly, it’s seeing the reactions to something you’ve posted.
These things come together to create a powerful draw for social media users.
What if you could use these features to drive similar behaviours for your work intranet? How much more quickly could you distribute company news? How much more efficient would your internal communications channels become?
Designing your intranet as a social feed creates a familiar, well-tested user experience that allows employees to communicate and collaborate significantly more easily.
Social intranet features will engage staff and keep them coming back.
Emphasise social sharing features and two-way publication
To maintain social media-style engagement, consider:
- Sharing, liking and tagging functionality to keep your intranet users coming back to engage in conversations.
- A social feed, which provides both company news and an opportunity for employees to share their successes themselves – an engaging way to link the individual to the organisation.
- Employee profiles, where each employee can display their work-related interests, projects and more to encourage connection.
As well as driving user engagement with your intranet itself, these are all behaviours which have a huge effect on employee engagement in general.
Public recognition, building links across the organisation and contributing to wider company discussions all make your employees feel like a part of a community with wider goals and values.
(Image source: zestmeup.com)
Given that post-pandemic, many employees want to retain some degree of home or flexible working, employee engagement will be more important than ever going forward. Having a digital workplace that makes it easy for employees to connect is extremely beneficial now – and will be essential as we head into the new work realities of the future.