Have you ever found yourself in the constant battle between searching for something but not finding it in the one place it should be? A good example is a sock drawer. You want to wear those new blue argyle socks you bought, but you keep digging and digging through your drawer, only to come up short. You know they should be there, in fact, you distinctly remember putting them there, but you are having no such luck in finding them. Then you start to really look at the drawer and realize that all the socks aren't even in pairs and they are mixed in with a pile of other things that really don't belong there. Now you're realizing why you can't find the one thing you're looking for: the drawer is disheveled and unorganized.
A failing Intranet site is just like that sock drawer. All the users are directed to the site for information that should be there, people remember putting content there, but without organization and structure, it becomes a black hole. Because of that, users are lead to save content to their local hard drives or in emails, which then leads to a redundancy in versions and cross-communication as to what information is updated and what isn't.
If you find your organization is in this scenario, fear not. Here are 4 reasons why your Intranet usage is low and ways to implement solutions.
1. Search is Not Helpful
Content search is by far the most important aspect of a good Intranet, yet most of the time it falls to the wayside. There tends to be a misconception that search just, well works. Yet, if search doesn't have a way to associate the input with content, it will never return the correct results. In SharePoint, content can be tagged with keywords or tied to content types that will aid in better search results across the site. If implemented properly, search will start becoming more efficient and helpful for your users.
2. Functionality vs. "Fashionality"
Some might say that a "good looking" Intranet is the best way to drive user adoption, while others would say that it doesn't matter what it looks like as long as it works. I am here to say that both sides are right, but also wrong. Both views are just two sides of the same coin. A good Intranet design is both aesthetically pleasing and appropriately functional. This requires an organization to communicate with all stakeholders to find the best design that fits both sides. Equal effort must go into ensuring the content is well managed and user friendly to use.
3. "Extra, Extra, Read All About...Old News?"
This issue is a by product of the vicious cycle of the Intranet black hole. Users don't use the Intranet because it's filled with outdated content because no one is keeping up with it, and no one is keeping up with it because no one uses the Intranet. This cycle can go on and on and result in digital cobwebs and disgruntled employees. To break out, a company needs to do some spring cleaning. Before implementing a new design, make sure to "clean up" already existing content. This will help your company start a new and not be dragged down by dead content weight.
4. Proper Training for Users and Management
Even if a company had the first three items flawlessly executed, they'd still fall short with user adoption if they neglected to train their team to use the Intranet properly. This goes for every user, especially management, they should have a "Practice What You Preach" mentality. A company must train users the proper way to upload content to the Intranet, how to make it accessible to the appropriate audience, and how to keep things organized and up to date. This will greatly increase the use of the Intranet, and keep it from slipping back into the black hole it once was.
Whether your organization is newly formed or has been in business for years, a well designed Intranet can help your employees collaborate more effectively and keep your company's content well organized. This can be accomplished by an internal team of stakeholders that represent all parts of your company, or by a third party who can help identify all your requirements to design the best Intranet for your needs.
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