The staff intranet at my place of work, like many staff intranets, had grown unwieldy and unmanageable. It was a generally agreed upon problem that it wasn’t usable for staff. What we needed was an intranet that was easy and intuitive to use, and we needed to know what staff found easy and intuitive.
To this end, I developed a three pronged study in which we:
- Evaluated what about the current design wasn’t working with usability tests.
- Conducted focus groups to find out what staff’s highest priorities were – why did they use the intranet? What did they need from it?
- Conducted card sorts with staff members to understand how staff members mentally modeled an ideal information architecture for intranet content.
Among other insights, usability tests demonstrated that the entire informational architecture of the intranet was mismatched with staff mental models. Focus groups informed us that staff needed guides and helping tools, and that they were overwhelmed with the amount of options available at any given time. Finally, card sorts allowed us to identify a common mental model through dendrogram analysis (a sample of which is pictured below).
These insights drove an entire overhaul of the staff intranet, which subsequently tested drastically better in usability studies and appeared satisfying to staff.