Follow the Yellow Brick…Pixels? Dorothy had it easy, but she didn’t have over 2,000 employees emailing her for the same document over and over and over the rainbow… wait, where was I? Oh yes, navigation. In a continually evolving workplace, it’s not enough to just HAVE an SharePoint intranet, it also needs to be a comfortable digital space your employees are eager to use. Having a completed company intranet builds company culture, brings together modern employee habits, and keeps your team on the same page.
The secret to creating a usable intranet, you ask? Well, my pretty, we’re not in Kansas any more. For a modern SharePoint intranet content strategy, follow this simple two-step process:
Step 1. Create relevant content
Step 2. Make it easy to navigate
Creating Relevant Content
Where do you even start? –With more questions, of course!
When creating your content strategy, there are certain questions you should ask yourself while your thoughts are busy hatchin‘:
- What will your users expect when they visit your intranet?
- What information do you need to spread company or even department wide?
- Will your intranet be used for browsing company information, tracking and completing necessary tasks, or educating your employees on evolving industry standards?
It is helpful to recognize what information your user is looking for, but also to think about how your intranet can communicate your company message. After all, this is a collaboration tool! These questions are your traveling companions who will help guide the way. Always keep them with you to build a framework that effectively encourages engagement and repeat use among your users.
Make it Easy to Navigate
Once you’ve created all the content and organized information at the page level, you should start thinking about how your users will find their way around your site. Think of the navigation as the path that leads your users to the places they need to go. There really is no place like home.
hubley ™ leverages a custom-built global navigation, which improves the user experience by including icons, descriptions and contextual information that persists throughout the user’s intranet experience.
If you’re building an OOTB (Out of the Box) SharePoint Intranet, you can leverage SharePoint’s Navigation solution—it’s just not as cool and feature–rich as hubley Navigation.
In either case, keep in mind the best practice is to limit your navigation to three levels of nesting. While this can be changed based on company needs, three keeps relevant information top of mind.
As you go through these levels, the information should become more specific. As a user begins to navigate through, they should be able to grasp an adequate idea of where their “click” is taking them. Essentially, if this is the users first time in your intranet, they may not know where to go, but they can follow the navigational bricks. Er, breadcrumbs.
However you begin the intranet navigation journey, a key aspect to keep in mind is “progressive disclosure.” This is an attribute that helps with the user experience. It’s a rule to initially show your users the most important options, and then show more specialized options upon request. By only giving the more specific features upon request, most users can go about their clicking without worrying about information that doesn’t apply to them.
Make it Your Own
Most of our hubley clients often realize their SharePoint intranet needs resemble a swiss army knife and must tackle multiple uses, perhaps even different uses for different departments or sectors or locations (oh my). Perfect! Complexity brings creativity, and part of building your intranet is getting closer to your organization’s heartbeat of activity. hubley is designed for flexibility in the areas where it’s needed most. Navigation is a really great example of that.
For example, some of our clients go the traditional route, and organize according to departments. Others take a more action-oriented approach, and give their menu labels, calls to action such as “Who We Are” or “Project Logging” or “I Want to…”.
When you organize the user navigation experience, remember that this is a collaboration tool. Getting input from your users can also help mold a successful transition and adoption. The Great Oz has spoken!