Embed UX in Your Organization’s Intranet Team of One

User experience (UX) is growing in public awareness as we are surrounded by technology in all areas of our life. I am one smart appliance away from a full on Brave Little Toaster revolution in my kitchen. So why is it still so hard to talk about UX for your intranet when we are all interacting with it every day?

Leadership may know SharePoint is an important communication and collaboration platform but they are missing how UX applies to an internal system. How can you shift your organization from treating UX as an afterthought to part of every project lifecycle?

Reframe the conversation

UX is easy to understand when you are talking about external customers purchasing goods on your site. The better the user experience on the site, the more likely your customers will make a purchase and become a return customer. Instead of customers you have employees. Instead of shopping they are completing tasks.

Reframe the conversation with Leadership to focus on outcome driven improvements instead of the softer “look and feel” of your intranet that most people equate with UX. The company saves the cost of an employee’s salary every time they can complete a task faster with the intranet. What does that look like when you multiple the frequency of that task across all employees in a year? This is a conversation about improving the usability of the intranet to help employees be more productive, not a conversation around branding.

Educate the business

Before diving into your recommendations and budget requests, level set the room with a quick slide outlining all components of UX. Most people think UX is just interface design and visual design. What about creating personas, design thinking, prototyping, usability testing, information architecture, feature prioritization, content writing and editing, and governance? This will further support your reframing that this conversation is much larger than branding or simply updating the navigation and homepage.

Craft an elevator pitch you can use in this meeting as well as in hallway conversations. The more you talk about it and familiarize the organization, the easier it becomes to visualize the importance. Have these conversations with anyone and everyone at all levels of the organization. The focus is to build relationships so you can support any group in the organization to improve the outcome objectives on their sites. Having more voices support these initiatives will help you push back on off-the-cuff opinions. Example pitch:

“As a quickly growing organization with competing deadlines- it is crucial our IT solutions are intuitive and easy to use. This will reduce the support needed for training and break/fix as well as increasing employee satisfaction. Embedding UX into the early stages of a project will enable us to conduct the proper data-driven research and evaluation. This also enables us to design more usable, desirable, and useful solutions by identifying the inexpensive design changes early on that will have high impact.”

Focus on What You Can Do Now

Imagine your friend walks into the room and pitches an amazing vacation to Turks and Caicos. They are fun to travel with, you have the vacation days available, and you love sipping tiki drinks on sandy beaches (I mean, who doesn’t?) but wow, you have heard how expensive it is to go there? It is far outside your budget for this year. You’ll likely quickly decline without investigating it further just from the stigma around cost.

Is this sounding a bit familiar to your recent UX pitch? “It’s too expensive.” “It’ll take too much time.” Avoid an immediate “no” like this with your UX pitch by focusing on small, scalable changes you can implement immediately without large budget changes. Add qualitative usability testing into the early stages of a project lifecycle before development. Card sorting, paper prototypes, and tree testing can all be conducted by 1-2 people with 5-15 end users. There are no additional software costs to implement these user research methods and you can gather data quickly while making iterative changes to your solution design.

Avoid the Big Reveal

Align with your teammates on an idea before going to the stakeholders. I do not mean a hallway conversation asking Sally to support your idea on the way to the big meeting. Ask your teammates for feedback, to pressure test your ideas, and if they are seeing the same trends. Creating solutions in a vacuum rarely work as you have only one perspective. Your teammate might highlight an issue you missed or disagree with your approach. Talking through it ahead of time will provide you the opportunity to refine your pitch ensuring the solution meets all needs.

Focus Persuasive Arguments on Target’s Goals

When speaking with decision makers align your messaging with the top company and department-level goals to showcase how these UX initiatives can help the company advance faster. Your offer to help them achieve their goals will stand out in a day filled with meetings about daily operations and smaller decisions. Approaching the shift to UX with a strategy in hand will build trust in the relationship as you highlight how you have thought through the impact to the company, tangible next steps, and what their support looks like to help you advance the initiative.

What are some tactics you’ve used to drive adoption of new ideas across your company? Continue the conversation in the comments.

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