Building a successful digital workplace, step 5: Be intuitive
No digital workplace has a chance to succeed if it does not provide employees with a good user experience. It’s important to create an intuitive, personally adapted and task-oriented experience that makes work easier and more fun if the digital workplace is to deliver to its full potential.
In this fifth posting on our blog theme of Building a successful digital workplace, we discuss how to shape a digital workplace in which users quickly feel at home and productive.
If you haven't read the other blog posts in this series, you'll find them here:
- Building a successful digital workplace, Step 1: Create a strategy.
- Building a successful digital workplace, Step 2: Create an efficient structure
- Building a successful digital workplace, Step 3: Boost knowledge-sharing
- Building a successful digital workplace, Step 4: Facilitating collaboration
Among other things, this blog post will address issues such as:
- Basic rules for creating a good user experience.
- How to build a digital workplace that employees easily can access, understand, find what they are looking for, and be productive in.
- What DEX tools and methods are, and how to use them to improve user experience.
- How to create a digital environment where users feel at home and want to hang out.
- How to ensure a world-class user experience over time.
Building blocks for a good user experience
If you google UX, UI, and interaction design, you'll get tons of tips and opinions about what constitutes a good interface and what lays the foundation for an excellent user experience. However, most of this advice is based on a more than thirty-year-old recommendation developed by interaction consultants Jakob Nielsen and Rolf Molich, which is referred to as Nielsen's heuristics.
Based on Nielsen's criteria and with a focus on user benefit, a roughly simplified list of the basic rules for good user interaction and interface design can look like this:
- Put the user first. Involve them from the very start and spend lots of time analyzing existing and future needs, processes, and habits. Create personas for all types of users and map these to the technical solution. Let real users test the solution successively throughout the design and development process.
- Optimize usability. Usability can be broken down into two distinct qualities: user benefit and user experience. User benefit defines the extent to which the user can fulfill the purpose of using the system. User experience is about the (dis)satisfaction experienced in using the system/site in terms of its being easy both to use and to understand. Put simply, high usability is achieved through user-oriented functions, interfaces, and content. In practice, this means that:
- The content must be relevant, i.e. that information, news, documents, and media are interesting or useful for the user.
- Functions and tools must be adapted to the user so that the person can quickly find information and achieve his or her goals and/or perform his or her tasks.
- The interface should be as intuitive as possible so that the user understands how everything works, without having to figure it out or attend a training session first.
- Be consistent and adhere to standards. It should be easy for the user to recognize and understand symbols, objects, situations, and choices. He or she should not have to search and try to remember, but instead intuitively understand and act through recognition.
- Give the user full control and optimal support. It must be easy for the user to cancel, undo, and/or restore a command or an action. The solution should also contain plenty of support information, FAQs, and self-help instructions.
- Visual hierarchy and minimalism. By working with graphical elements, menus, colors, images, and text formatting in a hierarchical order, you help the user navigate, filter, and find what is relevant.
- Ensure high accessibility. Accessibility refers to a system’s/site’s response time and speed of use, mobile responsiveness, operational reliability, redundancy, and disability support functions for users with visual impairment, color blindness, or other disabilities. Since mobile devices increasingly constitute the main communication and work tool today, it’s more or less a hygiene factor to adapt the digital workplace to mobile. Integrating different applications, for example, Teams with the intranet also increases accessibility and simplifies use. Read more about this in the blog post Teams and the intranet in perfect harmony.
For a more detailed description of the building blocks above, read the blog post Six basic rules for creating a good user experience.
Monitor the user experience with DEX
DEX is short for Digital Employee Experience and describes the impact an employer's technology has on the employee. There are a variety of DEX-based methods and tools you can use to measure your organization's DEX and identify areas for improvement. If your digital workplace is not delivering the expected results, a DEX survey will probably give you the answers.
Put simply, a DEX solution comprises two parts. First, it collects user data for the applications, network systems, and hardware devices that the DEX tool is configured to monitor. This includes, among other things, an application's performance over time, possible operational disruptions, and user patterns. It can also pull together data on how the users experience the digital solutions through recurring surveys. Read more about DEX in the blog post Optimizing the user experience and populating the intranet with DEX.
Create a workplace where everyone wants to hang out…
A popular workplace is one where the employees feel included, respected, and appreciated, and where the environment, tools, and processes are adapted for them to thrive and be able to work efficiently. There is no difference between the physical and the digital workplace in this respect. If the intranet constitutes or is used as an entry point to the entire digital workplace, it’s relatively easy to create an inclusive, easy-to-manage, and personally adapted workplace.
Some of the most important measures are to:
- Build structures for transparency, community, and feedback. It’s important to think through which information is for everyone and which should be targeted (read about targeting below). To create structures that increase the organization’s cohesion and engagement through, for example, participation and feedback, you can read the blog post Empowering employees via the intranet.
- Optimize search and navigation to make it easy to find news, documents, tools, people, projects, processes, and information about your employment.
- Create a personal and task-oriented user experience so that the users can quickly access their tasks, collaborations, files, etc. and feel that the content is relevant to them. To achieve this, the users' profiles must be made as detailed and complete as possible. This enables you to direct news, files and other type of content to the right recipient (targeting).
- Help the users help themselves. Be generous with templates, step-by-step guides, videos, FAQs, wikis, and knowledge bases where employees can share knowledge and help each other. This applies to everything from showing how to submit a sick note to technical instructions about a particular software.
- Set up virtual coffee rooms. In hybrid-based and completely virtual workplaces, it’s good to create informal meeting spaces online. During the pandemic, it became clear to most organizations how important it is for cohesion and engagement that employees connect and socialize informally.
For a more elaborate explanation of the above recommendations, read the blog post A digital workplace no one wants to leave.
To ensure that the digital workplace lives up to the organization's requirements and expectations over time, you need to consider it as an eternally ongoing development project.
Using DEX tools, the follow-up of employees' experiences of and satisfaction with the digital workplace, as well as improvements, can be largely automated. Even the intranet can be configured so that all content, pages, communities, etc. are continuously measured and analyzed. By studying, for example, page views, likes, and comments, it’s easy to determine what type of content is appreciated and adapt the content accordingly.
Most intranet platforms have built-in management and governance solutions that make it easy to track and analyze content popularity, and user behaviors and preferences. For example, Omnia has powerful governance and lifecycle tools to analyze intranet usage and keep content relevant and up-to-date. Learn more >>
Learn more about how to create a successful, popular, and efficient digital workplace by downloading our whitepaper Driving Employee Engagement with a Modern Intranet. You can also participate in our webinar How to build a modern digital workplace.
If you haven't read the other blog posts in this series, you'll find them here: