Posts Tagged ‘Usability Testing’
Intranet design has come a long way in recent years, especially with the advancement of social networking tools, user-centered design, and mobile access. If you’re interested in what other intranets are doing and keeping your intranet fresh and usable, you should read Nielsen/Norman Group’s post and report on the 10 Best Intranets of 2010.
The 10 winning intranets for 2010 include:
- Enbridge, Inc., a leader in energy transportation and distribution in North America (Canada)
- GE, a diversified technology, media, and financial services company (US)
- Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), a nonprofit medical research organization (US)
- Huron Consulting Group, a consulting company (US)
- Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a NASA Center that manages robotic spacecraft exploration of Earth, the solar system, and the universe (US)
- The MITRE Corporation, a not-for-profit organization managing four federally funded research and development centers (US)
- SCANA Corp., a Fortune 500 energy-based holding company (US)
- Trend Micro, Inc., a leader in Internet content security (Japan)
- URS Corporation, a leading provider of engineering, construction, and technical services for public agencies and private sector companies (US)
- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (Walmart), a retailer with more than 8,000 retail units under 53 different banners in 15 countries (US)
- median company size among winners was 6,350 employees
- average team size this year was 14 people, which is 27% higher than the average team size in 2006
- 30% of the intranets had special mobile features
- social network features on winning intranets include social features for employees as individuals, as well as workgroup support and other features that encourage work-related connection
- trend of CEO blogs on better intranets
- winning intranets encouraged users to try out new and improved features
- 40% of winning companies designed intranet features with the explicit goal of addressing unexpected emergencies
While the Alertbox posting has some of the high-level findings, the nitty gritty detail is, of course, in the full report. It’s available for download for $224 (single license), and at 449 pages with 198 full-color screenshots it promises to be well worth the nominal price tag.
We are pleased to announce the publication of Creating the Successful Law Firm Intranet published by Ark Group in association with KIM Legal. Written by Nina Platt, Laurie Southerton, and Amy Witt, the report is based on the user centric implementation method presented during last year’s webinar series of the same name. It includes chapters that discuss developing a business case, governance, and an in-depth look at the process model the book is based on as well as chapters for each phase of the model – Research, Design, Development, Roll-out, and Measure & Maintenance.
The report also includes case studies of the intranet deployments at Baker Donelson, O’Melveny & Myers, Reed Smith, Tory’s with additional cases studies of firms who are not named. Our thanks to Meredith Williams, (director of knowledge management at Baker Donelson), Tom Baldwin (chief knowledge officer at Reed Smith), Marty Metz (director of information technology at O’Melveny & Myers) and Elizabeth Ellis (partner at Torys) for their willingness to offer their intranets as case studies and work with us on the development of those case studies. We also want to thank Anna Shaw, commissioning editor at Ark Group, for her editorial expertise.
A link to more information about the book is included above. Once there, you will find a link to view the table of contents and executive summary. We will be posting additional information regarding the purchase of the book next week.
Now we can return to creating posts for this blog. Something we haven’t done for some time.
~ Nina Platt
As mentioned in a previous post, research is one of the phases of an intranet initiative. In fact it may be the most important part if the goal is to develop an intranet that meets the needs of its users. This phase allows you to learn more about what your organization needs, what platform is best for your needs, and what resources you will need to deliver a new portal or intranet. Yet the research phase of an intranet implementation is often overlooked for several reasons:
There is often a need to get the project done and involving the end users in the process slows the implementation down
There is a limited understanding of what an intranet can provide to a firm – if the concept of the intranet is narrow, implementer’s may think they can develop without involving others
The intranet team is putting a portal in place and thinks the portal as is, will be all that the firm needs
Decisions about platform and development tools have been made without consideration of needs
While I may have put a negative slant on some of the reasons, the simple point is, developing an intranet without spending time on research can set the project up for failure. Besides giving the end users what they need, involving them in the research phase will create better adoption and use of the intranet.
Given that we all agree that research is important, how does one go about it? It’s done by reviewing the successes or failures of the existing intranet, communicating internally to determine needs, looking at what other firms are doing, and reviewing potential technology. To break it down a bit further, let’s look at each task separately.
Current Intranet/Portal Review
Metrics – Review web statistics to determine what parts of the current intranet had the most use and alternatively, what had little or no use
Help Desk System – Review help desk calls that involved use of the intranet
Surveys – Survey end users to determine what they think needs to be kept and what can go
Individual interviews – talk to individuals to determine what they find most important, what new functionality is needed, what doesn’t work, what long term need they might have, etc.
Focus Groups – similar to individual interviews but in this case the audience is a group which might be based on roles, practice areas, or offices
Usability Testing – conduct testing of how functional the current intranet is – hiring an expert in usability will pay dividends in the long term
Benchmarking – contact other firms with a set of questions that will illicit what they are currently doing with their intranets
Published surveys – Find and analyze publicly available surveys – your firm library should be able to assist you in locating these useful tools
Case Studies – Case studies are readily available from vendors and publications – your firm library should be able to assist you in this as well
Technology Review **
Best Products lists – Many technical publications publish lists of the best products available for given needs. While these lists are useful for finding alternative products, realize that many times the products aren’t necessarily the “best” but are on the list for a fee
Product Reviews – Find and read articles reviewing the technology you are considering
Whitepapers – many vendors provide written information about their product in this format
Demos – Ask vendors for demonstrations of their products
RFIs – Responses by vendors to requests for information can provide valuable insight into how the product meets your needs
* this will include review of the existing intranet as well
** Don’t limit yourself by narrowly focusing on technology you already know about
User Requirements Document – The result of the end user research should get documented as the user requirements for the intranet
Usability Test Reports – This provides the results of the testing
Summary of Technology Review – This document lists the technology that could be used, what each product does, pros and cons, and other information regarding the technology. This information gets used during the design phase as the technical requirements get developed
How the research process get’s done depends on the team you put together to plan the research. The research planning team should consist of the intranet team and representatives from lawyer, professional staff, and support staff ranks. The technical review team needs these representatives as well in addition to IT staff. If you haven’t already involved librarians on the intranet team, please note that librarians have information management skills that often go untapped. They understand information, how it is used and the best way to store and retrieve it.
Look for the next posting of this series soon: Intranet/Portal Redesign: The Design Phase.
Conducting Intranet Needs Analysis, KM Column, September 2005.
Designing an Intranet User Survey, Intranet Journal, 12/13/2004.
Intranet Review Toolkit, StepTwo Designs, March 2006.
User Requiments Analysis: A Review of Supporting Methods, Proceedings of IFIP 17th World Computer Congress, Montreal, Canada, 25-30, Kluwer Academic Pulishers, August 2002.
Web Site User Centered Design: Techniques for Gathering Requirements and Tasks, Internetworking, June 1998. While the article is almost 10 years old, it still has information worth knowing.
~ Nina Platt