Designing, launching, and analyzing your intranet survey

In our first blog post on intranet surveys, we discussed the importance of an intranet evaluation survey, and how it is a key tool in gauging how your employees feel about your intranet.

Now we are going to take it one step further to help you design and launch an intranet survey to ultimately measure your social intranet satisfaction.

Applying an evaluation survey like the one below on a recurring basis will provide comparable data to show change over time. In addition to documenting improvements, the recurring evaluations can show the strengths and weaknesses of your intranet and trends in how it is being used and can provide guidance on how and where your intranet team can focus its efforts.

Step 1: Designing your social intranet satisfaction survey

Understanding your intranet’s purpose

Before we get into the specifics of which questions you want to ask on your survey, you need to first identify your intranet’s purpose. This may seem obvious, but it is often overlooked. Your intranet’s purpose can help raise the project above departmental politics and provides guidance on priorities. It should also link to your company’s missions, vision, values, and strategy.

The intranet purpose statement should clarify your intranet’s core goals, for which you want to measure impact. To do that you can align the survey questions with the intranet purpose statement.

Most social intranets aim to:

  • improve communication
  • improve access to information
  • improve collaboration
  • increase connections and knowledge sharing
  • streamline specific processes and
  • improve the sense of company community.
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People’s Choice Winner 2018: Destination Canada

One of our favourite intranet award categories is our People’s Choice Award.

We have a large community of intranet enthusiasts, so even though we feel like we know what makes a good intranet, it’s even more exciting to see what others view as a great one! We have to admit, this winner was a favorite of ours too.

Destination Canada designs intranet to reflect how people travel

As Canada’s national tourism marketing organization, Destination Canada is responsible for marketing Canada as a premier four-season tourism destination. Its 100 plus employees rely on accurate, up-to-the-minute market intelligence to stay competitive within the global tourism industry.

When they launched their new intranet—Explore DC—they had a clear end goal in mind: To ensure all employees could easily find relevant and visually appealing content. “With design as our beacon, we built our pages applying a blend of function and aesthetics moving to a more visual site to accommodate our international offices and reduce language barriers,” said Natasha Langlois, Strategic Advisor for Corporate and Employee Communications.

They even designed Explore DC to reflect how people travel: for leisure or for business. The right side panel of the homepage allows users to navigate their travels on the intranet with social features and links along that panel (calendar, social committee link, marketing Twitter feed, etc.). Meanwhile, the left side panel is all business, with links to external work sites and their corporate Twitter feed.

Icons also played an enormous role in their interface design and have positively impacted the user experience.

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12 things to move to your intranet

Whether you have recently deployed a new intranet, or you’ve had one for a long time, you probably already know the cliche that content is king.

While it’s obvious that there should be content on your intranet—and lots of it—what might not be so obvious is what content you should have on there. Again this sounds obvious, but your intranet is nothing without the discussions and documents that populate it.

Also, keeping content in other applications just because it’s always been there, only leads to stale outdated information. To get the most out of your intranet, it should serve as a central repository for all corporate content.  Here are 12 things to move to your intranet:

1. Newsletters

While most organizations have retired the paper newsletter, many still aren’t reaping the rewards of a digital one—mostly because many people are still relying on email as their primary source of distribution.

Posting your employee newsletter on your intranet has many advantages over email. The ability to ‘like’ and comment gives you immediate insight into which stories or sections generate the most interest. Also, having your employee newsletter on your intranet provides an identifiable location where employees know to access the latest news, rather than searching through an email inbox. Furthermore, if you are looking to shorten publishing cycles, moving your newsletter to your intranet allows content owners to push out relevant content as it happens (no one wants to see company Christmas party photos in February).

2. Letters from the President

Traditional corporate memos with boilerplate language do little to connect employees and create engagement.

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Validate, verify, and maintain your intranet Information Architecture

Once you have launched your new Information Architecture (IA) it’s important to continue testing and validating all of your hard work. As your intranet grows, you’ll need to keep maintaining the IA to make sure your content remains findable and relevant to your users.

It doesn’t matter how amazing your IA or content at launch is; if you don’t maintain your intranet, the value it provides will decline over time. Often, an intranet will launch with a beautiful, well thought IA, that will degrade over time as content is bolted on without much thought. This continues until the voices of users crying out results in a large-scale IA rebuild, and the process continues again. To avoid this pattern, validating and verifying your intranet is one of the most important, yet underestimated tasks.

Validation and verification are independent procedures that are often used together for checking that a product, service, or system meets requirements and specifications and that it fulfills its intended purpose. Verification denotes precision whereas validation indicates the value of the end or final product.

Both your content and IA will evolve over time to meet the demands of your users. The IA needs to grow and change as new content is added or removed from the intranet.

Here are some simple validation and verification steps to ensure you are getting the most of your new site:

1. Review content

One of the biggest concerns with intranets is old, stale, inaccurate content but there are steps you can take to make sure your content stays continuously relevant:

  • Establish an annual cycle of content review, including reviewing the navigation to see where new content will fit.
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How to build your intranet sitemap

There is no exact science to building your Information Architecture (IA). You can build it from both the bottom up and/or the top down. We usually use a combination of both approaches.

Building from the bottom up

Using the results from the card sorting exercise and looking at the content inventory, you can begin building your lowest level groups. From the card sorting exercise, you should have an understanding of:

  • Content users consistently group in one specific category
  • Content users never group together
  • Content grouped in one category by some users, and another category by other users

You’ll also know some of the common category names used to describe the groupings. From the content inventory, you’ll know:

  • What content is a high priority and frequently used
  • How the content is organized (this will help you understand how people have historically grouped content)
  • The breadth of the content needed to accommodate in your structure

Other sources can be helpful when deciding how to group content. For example, your public facing website may not have the same content, but it is a great way to understand how products or services are organized. How-to guides or manuals are also a good source to see how content can be organized by task—take a look at the table of contents and see if those groupings can be applied to the intranet.

Once you have some lower level groups, begin combining them into higher level groupings and keep working upwards.

From the top down

As you work on creating lower level groupings, you can also think about your top-level categories and then build downwards to meet in the middle.

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Best Looking Intranet 2018: Entegra Credit Union

With so much emphasis placed on architecture and navigation, it’s easy to lose sight of the significance of a visually appealing intranet. But a well-designed intranet isn’t just a pretty face. It helps reinforce branding, assists in adoption, and keeps users coming back.

As the winner of the Design category in the 2018 ThoughtFarmer Best Intranet Awards, Entegra Credit Union blew us away with their impressive visual design. From the colors to the branding consistency, to the unique ways they encouraged adoption, their submission caught the eye of our creative team.

Canadian credit union wows with award-winning intranet design

Entegra Credit Union is a fast-growing Manitoba based financial institution serving over 14,000 members across 4 branches and an online savings division.

When they launched ThoughtFarmer in 2017, Entegra was eager to take advantage of all the customization options available.

“When we launched our intranet we wanted staff to feel that they could talk freely and engage with one another, rather than feeling that this was a top-down way to share information. The goal was to make it a fun, safe space to ask questions, engage, and collaborate with fellow employees,” said Gabrielle Courteau, Marketing and Communications Manager at Entegra.

One of the first things they did was unveil a logo and identity. Entegra chose a rocket ship, which they named Orbit. It slowly became the inspiration for their entire site, and can now be spotted flying on most pages throughout their intranet.

Apart from the impressive visual design, Entegra also did a few other things that made their intranet special.

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Webinar: Simple and powerful forms & workflow on your intranet

When most of us think about an intranet, we visualize a vibrant page displaying corporate content, important contacts, and a calendar of events. But what most of us forget is that an intranet is also a place for doing things; not just reading things.

We are excited to announce our latest and greatest feature: ThoughtFarmer FormFlow! FormFlow is an add-on for ThoughtFarmer that helps streamline your processes, boost your efficiency, and allows you to accomplish more, faster.

Watch the recording to learn how you can:

  • Eliminate inconsistent manual processes with automation
  • Create custom forms that capture data with an approval process
  • Capture and share structured data

View the recording

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How-to guide for intranet card sorting

Card sorting is a structured exercise that asks intranet users to sort a list of sample intranet content into logical groupings. It can be done online using software, or offline (in-person).

During the exercise, a user is provided with a list of examples of intranet content. The user then sorts the items on the list into groups of related cards and labels each grouping. When a number of users have completed the exercise, the organizer compares the results to identify patterns and insights as to where similar groupings did and did not occur.

There are two types of card sorting exercises: closed card sorting and open card sorting. In a closed card sort, participants are provided with the categories to sort the cards. In an open card sort, there are no predetermined categories and participants are given cards and asked to sort them in a way that makes sense to them.

Because open card sorting is more common and useful in the early stages of building an intranet’s IA, we only cover open card sorting here.

Why is card sorting important?

Card sorting helps build IA structure using terms and groupings that match users’ perspectives resulting in a simplified navigation.

Many poorly designed intranets are built by one person or a small group who create the navigation around their own personal perspectives. This can lead to sites that are self-centered, overly prescriptive, or mechanical. The site ends up matching how the designer thinks everyone else should see the content, rather than how users actually understand the content.

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Most Innovative Intranet 2018: MedData

As the winner of our Innovation category in the 2018 ThoughtFarmer Best Intranet Awards, MedData amazed and inspired us with what they were able to create. From gamification elements to customized sounds to a unique news digest, they took innovation to a whole new level.

How MedData created a unique, engaging, and customized intranet

MedData is a healthcare technology company that helps hospitals enhance the patient experience. Like many other healthcare organizations, people are at the centre of what they do. It was therefore important for MedData to acquire an intranet that connected their employees to the resources they needed to effectively do their jobs.

When MedData deployed ThoughtFarmer in 2016, they were excited to take advantage of all the customization opportunities available. This level of personalization helped them align the intranet with their corporate objectives and playful culture. It also helped them find creative and innovative ways for employees to discover and leverage all the tools they required to be successful in their roles.

MedData named their intranet Pulse (we love the name, too!). One of the first things they did was incorporate gamification elements. They created customized badges for employees who completed certain activities on the intranet. This spurred immediate adoption after launch and encouraged engagement.

They also used Pulse to create a patient advocate resources section for on-site hospital staff. This allowed MedData employees to easily place orders for things like uniforms and patient brochures. “Pulse allows us to not only maintain a centralized location for all of our resources, it also allows us to be creative with HOW we offer them,” said Rachel Rahm, Digital Marketing Manager at MedData.

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Most Impactful Intranet 2018: BOK Financial

This year we had a lot of amazing submissions that inspired us, entertained us, and opened our eyes to what was possible with ThoughtFarmer. Our clients entered their intranets into three categories: Design, Impact, and Innovation.

Today we are profiling BOK Financial. Apart from winning the Impact category, they have an incredible story that we couldn’t wait to share.

Intranet Unifies BOK Financial Employees Following Devastating Tornado

What would your organization do if a crisis impacted your ability to communicate with every single one of your employees?

It’s hard to prepare for the brunt of Mother Nature, especially with something as unpredictable as a tornado; but that’s what BOK Financial (BOKF) employees were forced to do last summer, when an unexpected storm hit their central office in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Immediately after the storm hit, employees were left without access to email, banking systems, corporate website, or their automated phone systems.

It all began in August 2017 when an F2 tornado struck the Tulsa area, blowing a retaining wall into a generator at the BOKF operations center. While Tulsa is located in Tornado Alley, a Tornado in August is rare. In fact, it was the first tornado to hit the area in the month of August since 1958.

The 30 billion dollar financial services institution was literally and figuratively in the dark in regards to their technology systems.

The financial institution did, however, have a way of communicating—through their intranet.

Just three months prior, BOKF had deployed ThoughtFarmer. Because it was hosted in the cloud, it was easily accessible to any BOKF employee through their mobile device.

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