Usability, content, search and analytics on the corporate intranet

Intranet redesign or drip-feed improvements?

28 March, 2010 – Luke Oatham

I’m noticing a lot of talk around whether to go for a major redesign or implement small improvements little by little.  I thought I’d give my view on the subject.

I’ve been in my current job for two and half years. In that time the intranet has had a rebrand due to major changes in the organisation back in 2007, a homepage redesign in 2008 and a complete site redesign released at the start of 2010.

We are warned against the dangers of “big-bang” redesigns because staff can’t handle too much change all at the same time. Because of this, when we released our new intranet in January, I was expecting either a great big fanfare and applause or a load of boos and hissing. I got neither. It was business as usual, almost as if nothing had changed. The intranet had a complete new look and feel, a totally reorganised structure and navigation system (based on intense user testing) and still there was very little reaction from the user base.

Having spoken to a few intranet professionals, apparently I shouldn’t be alarmed and this is a good sign that staff are just using the intranet as usual. Unsurprisingly, we haven’t had bags of positive feedback, but neither have we had lots of complaints.

I feel that we are now at a point where we can start to make incremental changes. The intranet is now in a state where we have consistency across the board, all the content is organised. It is not perfect, but I don’t see the need for any further “big-bang” redesigns. Now it’s time to tackle the smaller issues as well as plan for future enhancements such as an improved staff directory and integrating feedback and collaboration features.

I don’t see any harm in a big redesign project in itself where it is appropriate. Sometimes it’s just best to start again rather than try to do lots of smaller fixes. So long as it’s not repeated again and again.

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