Intranet information architecture

Intranet information architecture

Designing for an intranet may easily sound like a boring activity for an interaction designer, however I have appreciated this period very high, as it teached me a couple of useful things:

  • The intranet of a student-driven NGO means a moderately sized user base (3000+ users), with significant amount of users returning to the site due to work.
  • Developing a system which I also actively use helps to spot usability flaws, which would otherwise only be revealed with longitudinal studies.

##Intranet navigation

I led the project to revise and update the information architecture from top-to-bottom. Navigation is a crucial issue for the average users, who are not power users, yet needs to manage around over 35 different sub-pages of the accessible tools. Due to the constant development and introduction of new features during the years, the findability of functions can become confusing.

Outcomes of the card sorting workshop.

I tackled these issues with participatory design, by facilitating a workshop with card sorting in order to identify the major categories the users would cluster the different subsystems: the card sorting was conducted with a diverse group, representing different stakeholders and different experience levels, to achieve the best synergy through diversity.

Development of the intranet header with pixel-perfect Photoshop mockups, and the final version.

In another workshop, I challenged a group of expert users (developers and interaction designers) to characterize the main layout patterns over the system, abstract them and based on the findings establish an improved lower-level information architecture for the pages.

Navigation, hierarchy indication and information architecture improvements.

One of the main reasons to use a unified intranet instead of randomly found tools on the internet is to keep the of the data at a centralized place. Massive amount of data has been collected, yet a global search was not implemented for a longer period. Breaking down this problem to considering what are the most often accessed data within the system, I also implemented a centralized search to increase findability of the most often accessed data.

With my solutions, I was committed to create a strategical, long-term sustainable design language, information architecture, layout, which matches the needs of the organization, trying to overcome the problems with high fluctuation of designers and developers. Meanwhile, it was important to keep the consistency with the rest of the layout, as the pace of development is rather incremental.