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The Top Enduring Intranet-manbetx官方网站手机版Design Mistakes: 7 Deadly Sins

by Kara Perniceon November 27,2016

Summary:Intranet tools and programs come and go,but bad UIs linger for years,impact employee productivity and morale,and ultimately increase organizational costs.

The 17-plus years during which I have worked on intranet 万博官网manbetx下载UX have unearthedrevolutionary manbetx官方网站手机版designsthat lifted employees to higher levels of productivity,motivation,and communication.Still,some nonstarter manbetx官方网站手机版designs have unexplained staying power.Don't let your intranet manbetx官方网站手机版design get dragged into using any of these common design evils.

1.Poor Search Results

Yes,most intranets have a search field and return results to user queries.But that's a pretty low bar for defining a successful search functionality,and many intranets still don't raise above it.

Instead,content is concealed from search because,for instance,it's stored in areas that are not crawled by the search engine or it is poorly tagged or categorized.In these cases,intranet search doesn't turn up the most relevant content.The ramifications of poor search results range from employees wasting precious time in order to find what they need to their acting on inaccurate content.

2.Content in Silos

Content in a silo (or walled-off content) is content that's difficult to discover and find.The content may be walled off in multiple ways:

  • not accessible via the search function
  • absent from the global navigation and subnavigation
  • hidden based on user's role,due topersonalization
  • protected by alogin wall

Common examples of content in silos include:

  • team spaces,communities,collaboration spaces
  • separate intranet subsites
  • social platforms,such as a wall or feed that are technically not part of the intranet,although employees may perceive them as such
  • enterprise applications and third-party applications that are linked to from the intranet

Often silos emerge because they are easier to create — both in terms of actual effort and of actual organizational politics and involvement — than content that is properly integrated within an overreaching information architecture and linked through the main intranet access points (such as search and navigation).Silos make it difficult or impossible for employees to find the right and most updated content and tools they need.Employees will feel alienated and disrespected if their colleagues can access content which they can't.Silos waste users' time,and lead to low job satisfaction or even quitting.

Whatever the new type of content you decide to deliver on the intranet,consider whether it needs its own site or tool,or it would be better off if linked in the larger intranet.Remember that keeping it separate from the intranet may incur significant costs for your organization.

3.Poor Visual Layout

Intranet teams are quite often understaffed,so having the expertise of a seasoned visual manbetx官方网站手机版designer is merely a dream at many organizations.Additionally,politics and the stakeholders with the biggest checkbooks often dictate which page content appears bigger,higher,and brighter.Resulting manbetx官方网站手机版designs often lack informedpage-layoutstrategy,clear hierarchy,andvisual appeal.

Elements that strongly contribute to visual layout can be related to:

  • Text: color,size,typeface,bold and normal,and space above and below text
  • Graphics and images: position,size,color,graphics' relationship to content
  • Space: information density,white space,chunking

When text,graphics,or space are not used properly,pages look cluttered,with too much content,and no visual hierarchy.Scanningis difficult because links,headings and subheadings are not easily distinguishable from normal text.Users have trouble determining which page elements are relevant for them.And important announcements mayappear to be external advertisements.The end result of poor visual manbetx官方网站手机版design is that employees waste time and miss information they should be paying attention to.

4.Illegible Text

Pretty,modern-looking text doesn't have to beillegible.But,small,light gray texton a white background is quite common,as are these related text-camouflaging practices:

  • poor contrast between text and page background
  • tiny text
  • flowery typefaces with complicated details

Remember also that today's intranets are used on a multitude of devices,many of them portable: glare due to sun light can make low-contrast text invisible.Employees shouldn't have to work hard to read the text on a page,whether viewing on a big monitor or a phone.

5.Announcements and Promotions that Look like External Advertisements

Banner blindnessis almost as old as the Internet.Advertisers still persist in creating ads that do not match the style (color,font,graphical elements) of the websites they appear on,most likely because they do not know in advance on which site the ad will be shown.Our eyetracking researchshows that people look more at advertisements that match the style of the website.And they tune out elements that's don't appear to be part of the site's core content.

It is,however,surprising that banner blindness is also alive and well on intranets.Groups such as HR and Corporate Communications,who want employees to see certain announcements,erroneously make internal promotions look like advertisements.Bright colors that are different from those used on the rest of the intranet,animations,and smiling stock-art people repel employees from these promotions,and cause them to miss things likeBenefits Open Enrollment, All-Hands Meeting Friday at 3:00PM ET,andBlood Drive Next Week!

Promotions should be the work of intranet manbetx官方网站手机版designers,not of a special branding team.Intranets should have dedicated spaces for promotions.And above all,they should look like corporate content,not ads.

6.Global Navigation that Disappears

If intranet manbetx官方网站手机版design issues were insects,disappearing navigation would be the cockroach that survives any asperities the world may send its way.Solving this problem is as difficult as fumigating an infested apartment complex.One of the main reasons is thatcontent strategyandinformation architectureare sometimes only partially planned on intranets.Pages and subsites hang in the wind by just the thin thread of a crosslink.When they click this crosslink,users enter a world that looks completely different from the rest of the intranet,and that is missing the much relied upon anchor that is the global navigation.

Another common reason for eliminating global navigation on certain pages is the attempt to declutter the manbetx官方网站手机版design and create an immersive experience.Progressive disclosuresuggests hiding unnecessary elements in an interface until the user asks for them.On mobile,manbetx官方网站手机版designers sometimes collapse the navigation to effectively use the small screen real estate.But it is rare that global navigation would fall under the umbrella ofunnecessary,or that it should be completely removed from the intranet.Doing so is unexpected,unsettling,and takes away employees' control.

7.Portal Pages that Only Promise Content

A key benefit of many intranets is that they consolidate information that is peppered throughout an organization.But stopping at giving just a link is less helpful than offering some of the content the link leads to.For example,a section on an employee-benefits page may be calledEmployee stock options.Additional information may sometimes come with the link — such asSign uporCheck funds.This is slightly better than the link alone,but it still contains no real content.Rather,it promises that content will appear on the next page.Why not give the employees some information of value just after the link?For example,offer the current stock price,or the personalized options' value for the current user.In another example,CEO Blogwith a picture of the CEO is understandable,but also seeing a posts' title,likeThe last US presidential election will affect our business this yearwould make employees want to go read the post.


How do these 7 most-enduring intranet 万博官网manbetx下载UX problems relate to the10 most-enduring manbetx官方网站手机版design problems on public websites,which we identified in a research project earlier this year?Well,bad search and siloed content appear on both lists.Truly plagues of usability.But otherwise the two lists are different.That said,intranets still sometimes commit some of the manbetx官方网站手机版design mistakes that are more deadly for websites,so it's worth paying attention to both lists.

Survey your intranet for the 7 most persistent and troublesome 万博官网manbetx下载UX problems,and rejoice if your manbetx官方网站手机版design avoids them.But if any of these intranet "sins" skulk,perform an exorcism by reviewingintranet usability guidelines,using updatedpersonas,and doingiterative manbetx官方网站手机版designandusability testing.