Usability Testing of Internal Company Intranets
Intranet usability testing (principally in the form of what is known as task testing) is becoming quite a frequent and popular exercise in the validation and improvement of organisations’ intranet architecture and content. The process often follows another technique, card sorting, which involves potential users being asked to sort a series of cards with content headings/descriptions into what they see as a logical and useful groupings and sequences. This activity can be conducted online with special software so can involve geographically dispersed staff as well as those in head or main offices.
The principal objective of intranet task or usability testing is to establish findability of content.
Research has shown that employees’ willingness and comfort with using an intranet site is directly related to the ease with which they can locate content. It has to be remembered that this is not a user with a particular motivation and interest navigating a site they have elected to visit, but an employee with a particular task and purpose who really just wants to get in and out of the site as efficiently as possible. The quicker and clearer this is the better for your staff and, ultimately, for your business as less time is wasted locating vital information or data.
There is evidence that the efficiency of intranets has actually decreased in the past decade despite improved design and technology. This is mainly due to an increase in the number and complexity of the tasks it is being asked to perform. So it is critical that usability testing is conducted on your intranet to determine if it is working somewhere near optimum.
There are a number of advantages to intranet testing over B2B or B2C. For s start you know exactly who you users are – you employ them! You should also know pretty much what they use the intranet for (the great majority of visits will be for looking up members of staff, phone numbers, responsibilities and so on and queries and tasks related to pay and expenses which, let’s face it, is what most staff are interested in!)
In view of all this constructing your test and engaging participants should be relatively simple. It is also a useful opportunity to engage staff in a dialogue and gain more commitment to intranet usage so there are beneficial by-products to the process.
The process itself is relatively simple; specific tasks that users are likely to undertake are identified – this might be how to obtain or purchase required good or services, how to determine where you should be on your payscale or who a particular section head is and how to contact them. The task testing then evaluates how easy it is for the user to complete the task and assesses the clarity of the site structure in helping the user achieve this. The process is often performed on a site navigation mock-up but it can equally be useful on an existing site as you look to evaluate and improve performance. Most large organisations will have had an intranet for many years so assessing an existing structure is probably the commonest situation.
Your intranet is a valuable tool for your employees and for you as a manager/employer to convey important information, motivate and direct staff and make the admin and everyday running of your business smoother and simpler. Anything that gets in the way of this is a potential drag on your overall efficiency.
If you would like to talk about intranet usability testing within your business contact us today on +44(0)800 0246 247, or email firstname.lastname@example.org . We would be happy to talk through your needs and provide guidance and assistance regarding a way forward.