Usability Testing to Optimize Your Intranet
How to help your employees get the most out of your internal web portals.
What do companies like Adobe, Verizon, and ConocoPhillips have in common? They all have great intranets for their employees. And let’s face it, whether you have 230 or 230,000 employees who rely on an intranet, you want to ensure it’s as streamlined and optimized for your internal-facing users as your customer-facing site is for your external users.
In this article we’ll take a look at why usability testing is helping companies with more than just their external-facing sites and how intranet testing is helping businesses be more productive.
Ongoing Intranet Usability Testing
Companies have been experimenting with more efficient work models since Henry Ford’s auto plants. Streamlining the online experience, whether it’s for customers or employees, is one of the biggest challenges modern companies face in regards to being more effective and efficient (users being able to accomplish their tasks and workflows & time spent working versus time spent getting help.) The outcome of ongoing usability testing is less time with help centers and getting more information faster and with less effort. In short, optimizing your intranet makes for more efficient workers.
The good news for companies that are already focused on optimizing their external sites is that the challenges intranet teams face aren’t all that different. As new technology is created, user needs and expectations change, and organizational needs morph to meet these new user expectations. Like any site, an intranet requires constant maintenance and an eye on what can be optimized. This is why regular usability testing is important to maintain a peak-condition intranet for a more efficient workforce.
A bonus is that recruiting participants for intranet testing is oftentimes easier than recruiting for external facing sites since you know who your target audience is (and where they sit!) It’s still recommended to incentivize your workers to take your studies and to invite them to give their feedback in manageable chunks so as not to completely disrupt their schedules.
Agile UX & Intranet Testing
According to yearly findings by Nielsen Norman Group, the average time that top intranet teams spent on development in 2015 and 2014 was an average of 16-17 months. Compare that with the average time spent in 2013 (26-27 months) or in 2012 (47-48 months.)
So what happened between 2012 and 2014 that made such a profound difference? This was when Agile UX methodologies started becoming more engrained in development cycles, replacing the older method of waterfall development. By 2014, Agile had proven its value and was getting adopted by more and more companies since the ability to do quick iterations and see results much faster made redesign and development efforts seem less Herculean in nature. Now in 2015, companies are getting more practice implementing iterative testing and development cycles effectively within their organizations.
It’s important to make sure that your online experience is optimized for all your users, including your internal ones. The good news is that if your organization already has usability testing software and teams in place for external site testing you already have a majority of the tools at your disposal. Combined with Agile UX methodologies, doing regular usability testing of your intranet will result in faster turnaround times for implementing iterations and resulting in more efficient workers.
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Phil got his degree in creative writing, where they told him he most likely wouldn’t be able to use his degree for his career. He obviously won that round. When not working with UX researchers he can be found teaching martial arts and working on his fiction novels.