For an intranet to be effective, it needs a solid UX design. It's as simple as that. If a site's UX design isn't adequate, both the site and its users suffer. Although the importance of UX has been proven over and over again (to the point of being taught as fact in schools), it is often skipped over or largely ignored. So what is UX?
What is UX Design?
UX stands for user experience. It's a measure of the experience an average user has when interacting with something. In this case, that something is your intranet. UX design determines whether your intranet's design will hurt or help the site's overall user experience and, by extension, the average user's productivity.
Intranet UX design covers many areas, but it is primarily concerned with usability. Can the average employee effectively use the site in question? If not, it has a bad UX design. Take SharePoint for example. Out-of-the-box SharePoint doesn't have the best UX design. It gives the bare bones essentials and not much else, which can be confusing for general users. Therefore, any intranet you buy or make should implement its own design that tailors to your needs.
Be aware that many intranet designs do not meet UX requirements though. Old, confusing, and under-utilized intranets typically have major UX design problems.
Why Is UX Design Important?
Intranets with poor UX designs are frustrating, restrictive, and hinder usability. Usability can mean many things in this case. Employees can have trouble completing tasks. They may struggle navigating the site. In some extreme cases, whole areas of the site may be completely non-functional.
When the site that the users depend on to do their jobs holds them back, they can't perform as well and become frustrated. Often times they may resort to creating other ways to perform their work without the company intranet's interference. There are many companies that have purchased an intranet in the past, but stopped using it over time because of this. If their site had been useful and intuitive, then they would likely still be using it.
A Good UX Design Saves Money
Sites with good UX designs make use easier and more effective. Conversely, the inherent frustration in sites with bad UX designs lead employees to resent their work. This resentment festers into employee disengagement. Disengaged employees cost companies money. Disengagement develops into a large problems for organizations. We have written on the effects of disengagement if you want to learn more on the subject.
It was estimated that organizations spent $3.7 trillion on technology alone in 2018. And this value has only grown since. This is a huge investment. Unfortunately, studies show that 45% of technology providers do not perform any kind of UX testing. This means that each year, companies buy at least $1.665 trillion ($1,665,000,000,000) in potentially worthless technology.
Finally, a solid UX design is beneficial for the provider as well. UX design works, and solves otherwise detrimental usability problems. And by eliminating those usability issues, those providers have vastly more effective offerings than less studious competitors. IBM has shown that every dollar put into UX design brings one hundred dollars back to the company. This is a 9900% ROI.
Testing is Essential UX Design
UX design is extremely important to any product, including intranet. By ensuring that your intranet has a good UX design, your company can save money, time, and help the entire user base.
Two different groups need UX information for different reasons: companies who currently have an intranet, and companies looking to buy an intranet. For the first group, it is not too late to test your existing intranet. You may have an idea of the current usability, but without any tests, it's just a guess. Determine the usability of your site to figure out how to proceed in the future.
For those looking to buy an intranet, you don't need to do full UX testing yourself. However, ensure that your intranet provider has performed thorough UX testing. Otherwise there is no guarantee that the platform works. You don't want to be among the group gambling $1.665 trillion on untested technology.