Nigel Williams, Community Manager for Interact has created this useful guide to creating an intranet homepage to help maximise the engagement of your employees from the moment they hit your intranet. Presentation includes various good and bad practice intranet homepage examples.Take a look and feel free to share with others or comment below.
1. Intranet Homepage Good PracticeNigel Williams, Community Manager
2. Purpose of Homepages First thing users see when logging onto your intranet Your homepage will be the most contested space on your intranet between various stakeholders Supports the needs of your users Dynamic content leads to regular user visits to check information relevant to them The front door to a one stop shop for user needs
3. Myths There is a perfect homepage Homepages should never go below the fold Homepage content should be driven by senior level Homepages are for breaking newseven if the news is 3 months old Homepage content should have an obvious business benefit
4. What Makes a Good Homepage? Prioritises key information Widgets which aggregate various themes e.g. breaking news / company campaigns in the same widget Information relevant to users that is accurate, timely and has a clear call to action Tasks should require little or no thinking to achieve Small improvements made consistently Self explanatory icons/ buttons Shallow banner Acknowledges F diagram visual behaviour of users
5. The Engagement BalanceTo maximise your user engagement you need to get a balance betweenyour Communications, Business Processes and Collaboration to hit theengagement sweet spot. This balance will increase over time as yourintranet matures. The sweet spot will maximise users ability to:Understand what is happening in your businessFind efficient ways to complete tasksShare knowledge and ideas, eliminating knowledge silos and hierarchyto create knowledge enablers at all levels.This will ensure users check your homepage regularly to see what haschanged with the knowledge those changes will be relevant to them.
6. Optimised by the Intelligence StoreThis sweet spot (or margin for error) is increased thanks to theIntelligence Store. For example:Interact Suggests will highlight content targeted at that user.Signposting will guide users on how to ensure their details are currentand give them a walk through of key actions.Interact Recommends on documents will associate similar documents,associating similar communication, business processes and collaboration;reducing the risk of you missing your target.
7. Examples of Good Homepage Practice
8. Examples of Good Homepage Practice Collaboration Blogs allow users to discuss issues or share knowledge. Homepage positioning is important as it increases interaction with other users.
9. Examples of Good Homepage Practice Personalisation This answers the whats in it for me? aspect. Interacts Intelligence make sure this is user specific.
10. Examples of Good Homepage Practice Communication Content pushed by the company to the user / user group.
11. Examples of Good Homepage Practice Business Processes These are business critical, user generated content.
12. BlogsBlogs should display a users profilepicture to enhance engagement
13. NewsNews should be displayed with a dateand summary.The length of the news widget should bedependent on the amount of recentnews.
14. Interact SuggestsDocument logos should be relevant tothe topic and include a summary.This widget pushes user specificinformation based on their roles andtypical searches.
15. Activities/Tasks Activities/TasksUser activities and tasks should be User activities and tasks should beabove the fold as these are actions that above the fold as these are actions thatthis specific user needs to complete. this specific user needs to complete.
16. Rolling WidgetThis is a great way to promote multiplecampaigns or information without usingextensive real estate on the homepage.This means its more likely to be seen bythe user.
17. Content pushed by communications Content pushed by Interact Content pulled by businessand pushed and pulled by Intelligence Store processescollaboration
18. Further Effective WidgetsAggregated WidgetIn this example we have taken three forums and made them appear as one aggregated forum. This maximises latest information withouttaking valuable homepage real estate. This is actually four widgets without thewidget title / borders displayed - Discus aBroader Theme in Support Forums is a free textbox, the next widgets are forum display widgets. Alternatively create a category with twolinks feeding as sub categories, for examplenews and campaigns.
19. Free Text Widget With Multiple Tabs Another very effective way to condenseoften unrelated themes without using threeseparate widgets. Design each tab as you would a regular freetext widget and users can click through threeoverlapping tabs. The content is better suited to task baseddocumentation than dynamic content.
20. Self Explanatory ButtonsThe action of a button should beobvious from the logo on it.Anchor text also reduces this misunderstanding.Touch Screen Buttons for EPOSIf you are a retailer for example and part of your user base uses touch screen tills, consider touch screen sized buttons to access certain information.
21. Encourage Your Users to Scroll Widgets which span over two screen scrolls implore users to scroll down. Place essential but static tools below the fold to ensure your users are aware of the need to scroll. Tools which do this effectively include:Activity widgetShows activities that user needs toComplete.
22. Favourite Documents widgetShows user selected favourite documents.Calendar widgetShows the next events relevant to that user.Rewards widgetShows all rewards given across the company.
23. Room and Resources widgetShows meetings booked for specific rooms orResources over a set period.Absence Manager widget (holidays etc.)Shows the last approved holiday request andOutstanding holidays to take.Football Challenge widgetDisplays the league table for the Football Prediction Module. This canalso be swapped with an internal Games ladder.
24. New Starter HomepagesSome companies give their new starters a specific homepage.This has a number of advantages, particularly if you get the balance rightas it encourages new employees to engage with the wider business andshare their expertise from the start, forming behaviours.A strong New Starter Homepage should include some of these features:
25. Signpost WidgetThis is a great way to get your newstarters to get used to updating theirinformation and guide them where tofind this information about other users. The profile completeness drives peopleto get to 100% whilst Have you Tried?and tips push users to get used tofeatures.
26. Embedded VideosA far more engaging way to get yourusers to understand the key features ofyour intranet or welcome them to yourcompany.
27. Interact AnswersWeve all been a new starter somewherewith a question to ask every 5 minutes.This widget share information andencourages collaboration as abehaviour.
28. New JoinersAllows new users to see and networkwith other new starters, particularlyeffective if you run induction workshops.
29. My WidgetGives new starters a voice and encouragesthem to engage with employees across thebusiness.
30. BlogsA great way to share knowledge, opinionand share collaboration.
31. Discussion ForumsAn excellent way to share information andhelp new users understand businesschallenges and the latest campaigns
32. Most Commented WidgetEncourages new starters to engage indiscussions and establish themselves as atopic expert
33. Mandatory ReadEnsure new users are reading essentialcommunications and business processes
34. Launching It can be particularly hard to achieve this balance at launch. There is a big pressure from stakeholders to ensure all processes, procedures, documentation and communications are in place. People need coaxing to collaborate with a new tool. However stats and feedback are great indicators to ensure you strike your engagement balance as your intranet matures.Typical homepage misbalances include:
35. Dominated By CommunicationThis is prevalent in intranets ran in cascaded communication models /three line whip communication models.RisksPeople become ambivalent to on going, one way communication.People dont feel invited to comment, discuss or engage.The Whats In It For Me? factor is rarely answered.Business processes are hidden or lost amongst the on goingcommunications.
36. Dominated by Business ProcessThis is prevalent in intranets heavily influenced by business functions orexpected to justify Return of Investment on every inch of the homepage.It does however work as a homepage for remote workers who may belooking for quick links to five or six tasks as youd expect from a mobileintranet.However there should still be a balance of Community andCommunication to reduce a sense of isolation and a tell culture.RisksPeople assume the intranet is solely a task management tool.People will only visit the intranet when they have a task to do.
37. Dominated by CommunityThis situation is at the other end of the scale to the prevalence identifiedin the previous two examples.There is a big drive to encourage social intranets and the benefits of thisare well documented. However having gathered these users and giventhem the environment to speak you need to add some direction into thisgroup with Communications and Business Process to realise yourbusiness goals.RisksLack of business process leads to ad hoc, parochial processes fromvarious thought leaders.Company news and urgent announcements are lost in the noise.
38. What Makes a Bad Homepage? Large areas of free text showing static content No logical information architecture One homepage for everyone Non personalised content e.g. generic content Inconsistent layout Assumed hyperlinks i.e. click here without an associated action Out of date information 100% cascaded communication Homepage driven by looks rather than usability Not having full width homepage despite a small left hand menu Content which is on the homepage due to the rank of the stakeholder rather than being there as it is useful to the user.
39. Small left hand side menus / blank spaceThis is not an effective use of space. TheIntranet Manager would be better to makethis page a full width homepage than takethe approach they have.
40. Web pages embedded in small windowsThis is definitely one to avoid.The Intranet Manager should create a link tothe specific site and use a Click Here toAccess BBC Sport hyperlink for example.
41. Over or undersized images with excessive blank space /Using video images as a linkMake full use of the widget space where possible, particularlywhen embedding videos.We have seen a worrying trend of people using video imageslike the one above as a hyperlink going through to adocument. This confuses users and should be avoided.
42. Extensive static text in a free text boxThis should be avoided at all costs!If you have an extensive piece of text like the example here,place it in a document widget with a link on the homepage. If itis critical make it a mandatory read.Do not place it in its entirety on your homepage if it is likely toonly have a read once use and is not searchable!
43. Broad column widths with excess spare spaceHomepage space is valuable so make sure it isbeing used.This example is a clear indication of wasted space.
44. Niche Topic ForumsAvoid forums which users arent going to refer orengage with consistently. These typically appear on homepages when aSenior Exec decides this needs to be here withoutbroader understanding of users needs..
45. Breadcrumb TrailYou shouldnt need a breadcrumb trail to tellyou that youre on the homepage.This again takes premium space.To remove it go to Administration > ManageHomepages > Select the Homepage youwish to remove it from > Click on Template Change > Uncheck display CrumbTrail>Save
46. Welcome MessagesYour homepage space is at a premium.Welcome messages do not achieveanything, no matter how welcoming youdlike it to be. It soon becomes somethingpeople ignore as it adds no on-going value.Avoid this at all costs!
47. Document ListsPlain lists are not engaging. Try to includesummaries and images to make the contentmore engaging.If it is timely include the date, if it is on-goingBusiness Processes where a documentcould be live but 18 months old, avoid doingso.
48. Using Official Event LogosUnless youre an official sponsor of theevent, avoid using official logos or you couldface legal action.More information on the Olympics logo forexample can be found underhttp://www.london2012.com/about-us/our-brand/using-the-brand/#non sponsor support
49. Misusing Branded IconsIn this example there is a danger that users could beconfused seeing a Twitter symbol on a widget which quiteclearly isnt Twitter.When using icon widgets, use them when using a widgetwhich is using that specific application, be that Twitter,YouTube etc
50. Fixing the Bad Homepage ExampleGiven the issues with the Bad Homepage Example, there are a number ofquick, effective fixes which can be used, most notably moving to a fullwidth homepage.In the next screenshot you will see how a number of the initialchallenges have been overcome and how the space can be used moreeffectively.Note each of the widgets near the fold encourage users to keepscrolling down, complimenting the commonly used widgets which aredisplayed underneath as discussed earlier.
51. Full Width HomepageThe full available space of the homepage isnow being used.
52. Video WidthThe video now uses the full width of thewidget.
53. Document DisplayAll documents have an image and summarymaking the most of the available space.
54. Linking to the Previously Embedded Web PageAs well as the danger of poorly sizedembedded windows, you are also at thewant of homepage redesigns by the site youare embedding. A direct link is far safer andeffective.
55. ForumsThe most recent forum posts are nowdisplayed. If Atlas wanted to promote theforum blog they could give it a specificwidget with a brief explanation of why peopleshould be interested or create a clickthrough to a specific Fleet area.
56. Removing Large Static TextThe brand guidelines can now be accessedwithin a click rather than taking up over athird of the homepage space.
57. Further Intranet Advice 53 ways to boost collaboration www.interact-intranet.com/53-collaboration-tips Planning and deploying a successful intranet www.interact-intranet.com/free-intranet-report/ Register for Interaction Intranet Conference www.intranetconference.com Further questions? Tweet us @intranetexperts