Intranet Market Alignment

Posted: July 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Business, Design & UX | 1 Comment »

James Robertson of Step Two Designs raises his flag in support of quality design for intranets here.

The focus in this excellent article is on the visual design layer, and I support the point of view whole-heartedly.  I do wish to add some thoughts to the following:

Staff need have confidence that the intranet will provide them with accurate and up-to-date information. An old, ugly and dated site sends the opposite message, that the intranet is uncared for and under-resourced.

There is an also an emotional element to intranet design. Intranets should reflect the cultures of the organisations they serve, and can also help to drive cultural change.

At a basic level, intranets need to have a clear brand and identity of their own, distinct from the public-facing site and providing continuity as the organisation evolves and restructures.

What’s almost universally overlooked is the intranet brand’s deeper relationship to the company brand(s). The intranet should be a sub-brand of the corporate identity, and that relationship should run deeper than visual design. In a broader sense, an organization should consider it’s employees as another important segment of their go-to-market strategy, with a combination of shared needs vis-a-vis messaging and positioning, and unique needs that are as distinct as any other customer or prospect segment.

Disconnect in the intranet experience has much to do with the intranet being at a distance from the company’s goals and market strategies, and visual design in and of itself will not do much to align the employee segment with the organization’s strategic goals.

I’d add one last bit to the following:

New site design should be combined with broader and more significant changes, whether it’s a complete site rework or incremental improvements to key functionality.

…or when signifigant changes to public-facing brand/market messaging and design are planned. The good news is, the excellent design examples in James’ post show a high degree of consistency with the corresponding public sites in most cases.  Employees in those organizations are certain to feel more connected and aligned with their companies” strategy and go-to-market identity.