Feb 26, 2015

Three Keys to a Successful Intranet User Experience

Over the course of 2014, I was asked on several occasions to speak about user experience and the work we did at Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) to build a customer-approved HR portal. The reason this is interesting to people is because it’s a great example of how we applied external best practices internally.

When developing the CCE HR portal, we thought about the employee experience as a customer experience, which is something I talked about in a recent blog. I spoke about digital body language and what that means in terms of applying customer experience concepts to the employee experience.

During the presentation, Saskia Hoppe and I covered how we at CCE took a step back in looking at our HR portal to determine how we could make it employee-approved. The way we did that is we built a user experience framework that covered four different areas – physical space and access, time, content, and functionality. Below is a breakdown of what each area means and the role we played as a communications team.

  • Physical space and access: Understanding the context of use – where do people actually touch the technology that you use for your HR portal.
  • Time: Understanding how people interact with your system and how efficiently they can get their work done.
  • Content: Streamlining the information you have on the portal so people can find what they’re looking for.
  • Functionality: A broader piece that really involves how you partner with IT to make sure the transactions that people do when they’re on your intranet are seamless, easy, and efficient.

Also covered during the presentation are the three keys we think you need to ensure a successful HR portal:

  1. Study the environment where people are touching the technology (physical space and access). In our case, one of our key groups – Supply Chain employees – touched the technology in a noisy environment where they don’t really use computers on a daily basis. Our challenge was to make sure that environment worked (e.g., the computers were functional, the space was well-branded and engaging to actually look in) because if the environment isn’t inviting, people won’t go inside the house (a metaphor for people clicking on the intranet links and going deeper into the site to look around).
  2. Determine how easy it is for people to get to and use the technology and tools (time). We found that it took people in the physical plants longer to actually walk to where the technology was than it did for them to do what they needed to do on the site, so we added more access points in partnership with the business.
  3. Take inventory of what is on the site (content). We had a lot of information “inside the house” that no one really used, so we took stock of everything that was on the site, deleted items that people didn’t use, rewrote some things, changed buckets for how people did things, and we did that in a systematic way. We followed the usability testing approach, where we did:
      • Scenario testing: You have something going on in your life (for example, you’re having a baby). Go find the information you need that will support you through the process. Over time, you observe users to see what they do.
      • Card sorting: There is a lot of information on the site. Bucket it in terms of what you think is connected, then name it.
      • Information architecture: Design information based on what users told you.

The more that we can think of employees as customers and apply customer-centric principles the better we’ll be at engaging our employees.

For more details about ensuring a success user experience, click here for the full presentation.

Now that I’ve started working at The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the workforce is much different and so are the challenges. The team recently rolled out a new intranet with content that is largely user-driven and does a great job of reinforcing organizational values. We have more to do, but in many respects, it’s a best practice for using digital channels to drive employee engagement. Stay tuned for more learnings, and feel free to share what you are doing in your world.

1 Comment

  • Great post, Rodney. As a core user of the tools your team created, I can only vouch for what you’re recommending here.

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