There are a number of other techniques that can be used to evaluate the design and effectiveness of intranets, beyond conducting a heuristic review (as outlined in this document).
These techniques include:
This involves asking users of the intranet to attempt common tasks, and observing where problems are encountered. This can be used to identify potential usability issues (qualitative testing), or to determine benchmark task times (quantitative testing).
Usability testing can range from informal testing with a small number of users through to formal testing in a usability lab. In either case, this can be a very useful adjunct to this intranet review, and will likely identify a range of specific problems and potential solutions.
These are often used to gather feedback from staff from throughout the organisation, and are a very effective way of obtaining staff opinions about the site.
In practice, intranet surveys are less effective at gaining information about the issues and criteria covered by this intranet review toolkit. If a survey is conducted, it should focus primarily on staff satisfaction, rather than design issues.
Information on these techniques can be found on the sites included in the “Further resources” section at the back of this document.
Creative commons license
The intranet review toolkit has been released under a Creative Commons license, which allows for the distribution of the document, as long as two conditions are met:
Attribution: we must be recognised as the creator of this work, and appropriately attributed when the document is used.
Full details on these rights can be found here:
The intranet review toolkit may be used by both intranet teams wishing to review their own site, or consulting firms conducting reviews of client sites.
In either case, the template is designed to be filled in with the specific results of the review, and this may then be provided to the stakeholders or interested parties.
Note that the titlepage must not be modified, beyond filling in the indicated gaps, and the publishing information must be retained. The intranet review toolkit may not be rebranded or republished in any form.
The intranet review toolkit is a living document that is refined based on increasing experience, and the feedback of the organisations that have used it in practice.
While efforts have been made to gain a good balance between sufficient detail in the heuristics, and a manageable size for the toolkit as a whole, this will need to be further refined. It is also recognised that the industry-wide definitions of what constitutes a “great” intranet are also evolving over time.
For all these reasons, we strongly encourage you to send in any feedback or comments you may have on this toolkit. We will then use this input to further refine and improve the toolkit and supporting methodology.
Please send your feedback via email to:
New versions of the toolkit will then be published on the Intranet Review Toolkit website (www.IntranetReviewToolkit.org).
The core of the intranet review toolkit is a template to use when conducting the review. The template is divided into eight sections, each of which is briefly summarised below.
1. Intranet home page
The intranet home page provides the main ‘gateway’ to information on the site, as well as providing a home for key intranet functionality such as news and search. The home page is also the most valuable ‘real estate’ on the intranet, and should be carefully designed to maximise the value gained.
The fundamental purpose of an intranet is to provide staff with the information and tools they need to do their jobs. As the intranet grows, the challenge is to ensure that information can be easily and quickly found. The intranet must therefore be carefully structured, with effective navigation to all information.
Many staff rely on search to find information on the intranet, in addition to browsing through the site’s navigation. Effort must be put into delivering a search solution that offers meaningful and relevant results, and is quick and easy to use.
The intranet should have a clear visual ‘identity’, and a consistent page layout that assists staff to find and understand information. This includes the overall page designs, and the structuring of information on the page, and the site’s look-and-feel.
5. Intranet content
Content on the intranet must be useful, accurate and up-to-date. It should also be easily understood by staff, and written in a way that reflects the online medium. Issues such as accessibility for disabled staff should also be addressed.
A key role of most intranets is to provide an effective communications channel that will reach most (or all) staff throughout the organisation. This includes publishing corporate (and local) news on the site, which needs to provide useful, timely and relevant content.
7. Staff directory
The intranet staff directory (phone directory) is a key tool in almost every organisation, and should be designed to provide required information while being easy to use and navigate.
Beyond being just a publishing platform, the intranet must play a key role as a ‘business tool’ within the organisation. This involves delivering a range of web-based forms, applications and other tools via the intranet. These must be designed and delivered in a consistent way, to provide a seamless ‘user experience’ for staff.