An intranet is meant to be the solution for your company’s greatest business challenges, like improving productivity and collaboration. If the intranet doesn’t solve these problems — or even worse, exacerbates them — then it has failed.
Employees won’t use an intranet that doesn’t meet their needs. There might be an initial burst of activity, but participation rates will decrease over time if users are unsatisfied or frustrated. Without active users, an intranet can no longer serve its #1 purpose of being a central place to communicate and share information.
1. Performance issues
No matter how wonderful an intranet is, if they system is constantly going down when employees need to access it, they will avoid using it at all costs. They won’t trust the intranet, and therefore they will store information elsewhere. Performance issues are critical, spelling failure for an intranet regardless of its features or design. If downtime is not a problem, other performance factors, like slow page speed or bugs, may drive users away as well.
2. Too much information stored elsewhere
An intranet should be a centralized, go-to hub for all of the information that your employees need. However, if employees always visit other applications or storage spaces for their information needs, they will have little incentive to visit the intranet. Strive to make the intranet the only space for shared information by eliminating other repositories. Furthermore, avoid saving multiple copies of files in multiple places, which leads to confusion when many different versions of the same document exist.
3. Lack of organization
If content is poorly organized, users will struggle to find documents and will not be able to work efficiently. These organizational issues are exacerbated as a company grows, since its intranet will also grow with it. To prevent the ensuing confusion from a disorganized intranet, make sure to have a solid information architecture that can support the range of departments, users, and content that belong on the intranet. Effective filters will also help your users to sort through what could otherwise be information overload.
4. Poor search capabilities
In today’s knowledge-intensive businesses, we do not always know in advance what information employees will need. Traditional intranets rely on a push system to promote a few curated, commonly-used resources that they anticipate employees will need. However, a modern intranet must have robust search capabilities so that employees can search through a large volume of information quickly to find exactly what they’re looking for. Tagging and metadata are two useful tools that will help content be more easily discovered via search.
5. Not collaborative
An intranet should be an active space where employees can collaborate, not a static repository that quickly becomes outdated. All employees should be empowered to add content, not just a select few. Once an employee has uploaded a document, not only can other employees access that information, they can also collaborate directly on the document through the intranet thanks to versioning and check-in/check-out functionality. An intranet should be a home for discussions. Instead of resorting to emails, employees should be able to have conversations in the environment where they are already working: the intranet.
6. Impedes users’ workflow
Intranets should increase productivity, not decrease it. As the most-visited page of the intranet, the homepage should host content that is useful to employees. Some stakeholders may fight to give company announcements or blog posts top real estate on the homepage, but will employees find it relevant? At best, irrelevant content will be ignored, but at worst, it will waste employees’ time. The functionality that helps employees do their jobs should be front and center. An intuitive layout is also critical for a successful intranet. Using the intranet should not be a time-consuming, laborious, or confusing task. If your intranet needs a user manual, it has already failed.
7. Stuck in the past
The problems with an outdated intranet extend beyond a merely ugly interface or poor user experience. By not keeping up-to-date with the latest technology trends and advancements, your intranet may not be meeting users’ expectations. Today’s users expect mobile-friendly applications: employees need to be able to access resources anywhere, anytime, and on any device. An intranet that doesn’t meet this need will be disappointing and underutilized by employees on the go. Modern intranets should also take advantage of next-generation features like social collaboration tools and machine learning. Customized content streams can show users the content that is relevant to them. These opportunities can combat frustrations typically associated with a traditional intranet.