Part I – How we Created an Award Winning Intranet

My team was recently awarded 1st Place in the Special Jury award category at Intra.Net Reloaded in Boston.

According to the Intra.Net Reloaded site, the “‘Special Jury award’ was set-up for projects that achieved outstanding results across all entries and therefore deserved special recognition. The special category was won by LDS Church and their project ‘The workforce intranet ecosystem.’ They flipped a stale, outdated, and rigid intranet approach on its head and turned it into an engaging, personal, flexible intranet ecosystem.

How did we do it? I’m not even going to mention the technology platform we built on because I want to talk about ideas and concepts (more than specific implementations). Here are some simple ideas that may have a significant impact at your organization:

Three Feature Pillars

In my view, all intranets must get three features right. If these three “pillars” are done correctly, then we can occasionally get other things wrong, but still have a successful intranet.

Feature Pillar 1 – Search

Search is at the top of the list because it is the most important. It is the sin qua non of every intranet. Search must be simple and powerful. It needs to promote information that the management of the organization deems important. And at the same time, it should provide information that the employees of the organization want to find—so they will be more inclined to actually use it!

Here is an example of the search experience we custom developed for our intranet. You’ll see employees, news, documents, and items from our internal catalog that are related (in this case) to the search term “travel”…

Search needs to work on mobile devices too!

These days the whole intranet needs to work on mobile. That means every page needs to be responsive, and every menu needs to be touch-friendly. If you’re not doing this, then you’re probably not meeting the needs of your organization. Everyone on any device should be able to use the intranet to get their job done.

Guess what most users search for on their intranet? People. Your intranet should also serve as your internal company directory—and make it very easy to find people by name, title, location, department, job function, etc.

Feature Pillar 2 – Targeted News

Executives at all levels of an organization have an interest in communicating important information to their workforce. Often what is lacking is the ability to segment the news by area/department—and at the same time—make the intranet home page one unified news source. For example, we show ‘global’ news to all employees, but only show ‘headquarters’ news to employees located in one of our headquarters buildings. ‘ICS’ stories are scoped even further, and are only visible to people who work in the ICS department.

Feature Pillar 3 – Targeted Navigation

Creating a beautiful, intuitive navigation experience will help employees quickly get where they need to go. Again, we tailor our navigation to the current user. So for example, I see items that are targeted to me because I work in the ICS department, and my location is Salt Lake City, Utah.

Next, please see Part II of this post.

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