Employees visit an intranet with a purpose. Whether it’s getting HR information, reading the latest company news story or learning a “how-to”—people use the intranet to accomplish tasks. Creating useful content that’s accurate, relevant, and well-organized saves people time by making it easier to get what they need from a page and carry out business tasks more effectively.
So what does useful content look like? Here we’ve outlined some fundamental ways to make your page content useful, and drive up the value of your intranet.
Useful intranet content has a purpose
Useful intranet content is:
- Focused on specific tasks. The content addresses a specific need of a group of employees
- Clear and simple. The content is stripped of unnecessary material, presented in simple language, and makes a clear point.
Asking “why does this page exist?” can surface the core tasks related to a page of content and can help you understand employees’ reasons for visiting the page. It can also reveal the content that lacks purpose so you can modify what’s on the page to better meet users’ needs.
To understand why a page exists, you can ask these more specific questions:
- Who is the intended audience?
- What tasks are people trying to complete when they are on this page?
- What information do people need to accomplish those tasks?
- What related tasks might people need to accomplish?
- What related information might people need links to?
All of these questions help to hone in on the purpose of the page. They’ll highlight information you may not have originally considered to include and identify critical content. This effort will also highlight the content you can do away with.
The 80/20 rule for intranet content
Often there is a small amount of information that addresses most users’ needs. A few dates, forms and links may answer 80% of questions people have when visiting a page.
For example, an HR page about annual performance review forms could have a letter from the CEO about why a performance culture is important. It could have a note explaining how the new form is different from last year’s. And it could have step-by-step instructions. But what do most people want to know? “When is the form due and how do I access it?”
So the 80/20 rule is this: What 20% of information could you put on this page to address 80% of what users are trying to accomplish?
Once you’ve identified the important 20% of information, include it at the top of the page. Make it scannable and easy to spot. This will help users get useful information quickly and easily. You can still put the other content on the page, just lower down.
Checklist for useful intranet content
Useful content enables people to stay informed, productive and engaged with their colleagues, and the organization as a whole. Run through this quick mental checklist to confirm that a particular page is useful:
- Is this page’s purpose clear?
- Does the page support the tasks a user is trying to accomplish?
- Is the most important 20% of the content obvious and at the top of the page?
- Is the content easy for users to find?
Good content doesn’t just happen
Creating useful intranet content requires time, focus, and some knowledge of best practices. But more than anything else, it requires a user-centered way of thinking about content.