Six reasons people aren’t using the intranet

Mar 29, 2019

You have lovingly crafted a brand new Digital Workplace, agonised over home page layout, redesigned the information architecture and run a competition to find the perfect name. There were launch cupcakes. You have Champions ready to leap in and assist at the slightest faltering of user experience. So WHY IS NO ONE USING THE INTRANET. It’s depressing. Content authors are demotivated, HR are still fielding the same queries and the leadership team is asking awkward questions about usage stats.

Don’t panic: the situation can be salvaged. But first you must objectively assess the issues to be solved, which often include one or more of the below.

  1. Unexpected search results
    SharePoint can’t reward good content and penalise bad like a search engine. We are used to Google and expect our internal systems to work the same, forgetting that high levels of content redundancy and a lack of data lifecycle management mean SharePoint has additional challenges to deliver the right results. Don’t forget to ask for feedback on search results – “Didn’t find what you were looking for?” Making sure your content and search filters are curated, current and non-redundant to support search is a painful job but will deliver the best ROI of any intranet-related improvement.
  2. It’s ugly
    Be honest. Has the UX been compromised by demands from vocal minorities that their links and widgets go on the home page? Have different content authors used inconsistent image sizes and colours? Are there just too many links and not enough white space? Everyone’s ideas of design are different but there are some universal truths that should be observed to optimise a web page, like consistency/repetition, balance, simplicity and space. We are not even going to mention responsive design for mobile devices because there is no way you would have launched without that, right?
  3. Lack of personalisation
    Users will be frustrated if they receive irrelevant office announcements, news stories or staffing updates on their primary company interface. Particularly in a geographically disbursed organisation, targeting internal communications is essential or you may as well go back to the dreaded All Staff email. Allow people to bookmark their frequently used places, people and documents for a faster, more efficient way of working.
  4. Do as I say, not as I do
    Are senior management actively engaging with the Digital Workplace or just paying it lip service while maintaining the same processes and behaviours? The CMSWire 2018 State of the Digital Workplace report states that organisations with the most mature digital workplaces showed a clear pattern of executive support via dedicated programs and a culture that valued digital workplace investments. How supportive are your C-suite? Can you make it easier for them to get involved?
  5. Competing platforms
    OneDrive, Yammer, Slack, Teams… most organisations have multiple places where information is stored, and some have more than one ESN or project management channel. If Confluence or Jira is the go-to stream for project updates, there will be resistance in migrating to another platform. Guide users to the intranet and minimise the time & attention costs of switching between apps by embedding feeds within the Digital Workplace. People will not actively seek out the corporate news, but they might engage when they are exposed to it while checking their KPI dashboard or Planner task summary.
  6. It doesn’t solve real problems
    This is the ultimate test of a successful Digital Workplace. Does it make anyone’s day easier? Does it reduce the time it takes to get work done and minimise irritating processes? Did you ask people what they needed before you built it?? Perhaps there are one or two things that everyone complains about or that impacts many users in a small but repetitive way. Fix this one thing and you might find your usage stats looking much healthier.

Your Digital Workplace is as unique as your organisation; user needs & preferences are never exactly the same. These ideas are a place to start but if you are looking for a more comprehensive analysis, why not take our free 5-minute intranet assessment quiz

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