Intranet Information & Learning Path
Large global IT & SAP consultancy seeks to educate new employees and provide information resources. Research employee & manager needs: create personas, site map. functionality, learning paths for new & established employees, low fidelity / mid-fidelity wireframes to show design options.
by Linda Lane
UX Design Principal UX Designer
Note: wireframes shown are intended for user experience testing regarding information architecture and learning paths.
The client, sales of $8 billion USD sales per year, is a large global software consultancy, with a central USA hub, specializing in SAP, providing an integrated suite of services — IT services, infrastructure management, engineering, R&D, and business services, to serve customers across the world.
Primarily the Intranet site users work within the company - SAP product managers, project managers, software developers, database admins, UX / UI designers, sales, and other consultants around the world. A special consideration are new employees doing research on the company offerings to understand and communicate relationships. Some B2B (business to business capacity would be included in the completed first version.
Scope of work
Design a personally engaging Intranet site that employees at all levels can use to understand strategies, core missions of the diverse branches of the firm, core offerings, learn about the human/business relationships between managers, employees, and highlight their units within the company. Display the information architecture of the company's offerings to clients, methods, 18 divisions, and organization chart.
Research needs gathered from a significant amount of existing documentation, also gathered requirements via interviews, and create low fidelity and high fidelity wireframes to document designs. Conduct interview of the managers responsible to build the site, based on the vice presidents wants and needs for the site.
Originally the meetings were scheduled to take place twice a week but once the initial PowerPoint presentation was provided, no one was available to discuss the Intranet site requirements. Therefore, I worked to design based on information collected in PowerPoint and on a SharePoint website. When complete I made presentations of 11 user interface variations, with the information architecture wireframes, and documentation.
Information architecture here meant categorizing diverse information into bite-sized chunks that people can understand, assimilate, and which is therefore made useful, including to the developer teams. One of the issues here were too many sources, too much information without organization, and little or no access to it by employees of different units because large amounts of random information is segregated by groups behind security firewalls.
Also designed a new corporate logo for the US branch to differentiate from the parent branding.
Visually I used planes and surfaces as a dimension in mind mapping the information design being presented intellectually and emotionally; a kind of a "material plane" or curtain.
Ethnographic Field Studies, Participatory Design, Interviews, Usability Benchmarking, Moderated Remote Usability Studies -Further steps are to get senior manager sign-off, and collect, or plan for the content for the hundreds of pages required to flesh out the site.
Those less experienced with delivering Web sites and applications may believe that a detailed and accurate Intranet site could be cobbled together from dozens of sources in 2 days. It is time-consuming to structure and organize the information.
Setting reasonable expectations is part of the communication process, designing and building software is a negotiation.
Other Content Created
Editing a large sales presentation document that was part of learning about the company's depth of technical service offerings with SAP, I wrote sections of the presentation and designed simple colorful graphics illustrating human-centered design processes for use companywide. Sales content is part of the corporate identity.
As this corporation is an equal opportunity employer encouraging women and minorities to apply, the user experience and user interface designs were framed towards the goal of a more diverse employee population. We chose contemporary design which matches today's reality, and moved away from traditional images of IT workers as depicted by two Caucasian men shaking hands, usually just their hands and suit cuffs (sales still wear suits, but within IT generally, formal business attire is not preferred.)
I suggested the suitable term "Learning Path" to the proposal for educating incoming new employees and creating savable learning paths that they can select classes and tests from to illustrate new knowledge.
The saturated color and versions of the main hero image and site designs proved very popular when tested.
The teams tasked with completing the work have the information architecture and a user interface that drives their goals towards human-centered design. Our choices move the company away from stock images devoid of color or energy which do little to motivate employees and managers to consider the site a great resource and learn from the materials intended for their use.
Graphic designers and corporate content specialists will work to provide extensive content based on the direction of the unit managers as time permits.
Our aim is that requests for employees to create their own case studies and add content will also increase participation and universal sharing of great customer success stories, with the technical knowledge to support that success.