Does your company, government agency, or organization miss the mark with their internal employee portal? All too often, organizations develop their employee portals based on the communication needs of the leadership of the organization, as opposed to the individual employee. If designed and maintained properly, intranet portals can be a cost effective and powerful corporate communication tool for your organization. The following 5 tips will help with designing a portal that is clear and productive for your users (and maybe even convince them to bookmark the site permanently):
1. Design it for a new employee: Intranet or employee portals are intended to reach a specific audience, typically your workforce. One approach for identifying requirements for the design or re-design of a site is to structure the portal based on the needs of a new employee. What would be the most helpful links for a new hire? Often they are seeking information on travel, human resources, policies, or other resources needed to carry out the tasks of their job. In order to make your employees’ work-life more productive, the new hire perspective should be kept in mind when identifying the core elements of the intranet.
2. Keep the content fresh: One of the main reasons why employees underutilize intranet sites is because the content is stale or out of date. When the site lacks new content, it loses validity to your employees. It perpetuates the notion to employees that no one is maintaining the site or that it is no longer an important channel of communication to staff. Establishing or re-designing an intranet site requires maintenance and continuity in content.
3. Make it pretty, but not busy: The design and layout of a portal is critical to whether employees will continue to visit or use the portal. In this case, simple is a better approach for design. Trends in design are shifting over to a minimalist aesthetic, which is much cleaner visually. To that end, avoid cluttering the front page of the site with too much information and focus on the important content. Critical to this simple layout is ensuring the site is user-friendly to navigate and intuitive. For example, burying a resource, such as a link to timecards, a couple of pages deep will make it more difficult for staff to access that resource. Keeping track of navigation is key. Do not lose sight of the amount of content on the front page as well as the contents (and their placement) on the layers beneath it.
4. Make it personal: Who said a government or organization’s internal portal had to be stiff? For some organizations an intranet portal is the only channel of communication available to share announcements to all corners of the organization. In addition to announcements, your intranet is an opportunity to share stories of collective or individual success. For instance, incorporating a blog roll (ideally with photos) enables your organization to share stories of your employees work or to profile a staff member deserving of recognition. This touch adds personality to the site and helps promote the work culture your organization is cultivating or has established.
5. Promote mission and brand: Internal portals shape the way your employees view the mission of the organization and your associated brand. A portal is another medium to further promote your organization’s mission and leadership structure. This is especially true for government agencies, which are mission-driven organizations. The design elements of the intranet should also incorporate your corporate identity. For example, as part of the visual branding, your organization’s color schemes and logo should be reflected in the overall layout and interface. All of these elements are important to impress upon your staff who are ambassadors of your organization’s brand.
Brigitte Mardigras is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). The views expressed by this author are her own and do not represent the views of the Department of Homeland Security or U.S. Government. You can also find Brigitte on Twitter at @brigitttem. To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.