Intranet information architecture is one of the key elements to every successful intranet content. In this article, I will walk you through the top 10 best practices for planning your intranet information architecture.
Just so that we are on the same page; intranet information architecture is described to be the content structure and framework of an intranet, meaning the relationship between categorized and labeled content in relation to other content.
1. Forget the organization structure when planning the navigation structure
Use navigation links that serve user’s way to think and navigate. If a person needs guidelines for his business trip, he doesn’t have a clue which part of your organization takes care of your traveling guidelines. He would search for traveling guidelines in a section called Internal services or Guidelines.
2. Use terminology that your employees use
You are not designing your intranet to professionals in your own field. Sometimes but very rarely you must use the legally correct terms. Even in those rare cases also use the words that the user will understand.
3. SEO is important also in intranet
Search engine optimization isn’t just important in public web sites. Intranet’s search engine easily finds pages that have one main subject which is clearly written in the title of the page and in the subheadings. Don’t mix too many things in one page and don’t create several pages or documents about the same subject. That would confuse both the user and the search engine.
4. Offer information in a language that the user understands
If someone doesn’t speak English, he will not learn it by reading your intranet. This same point continues in the next section about creating content in multiple languages if you decide to go with a multilingual intranet.
5. Bring the global content to your multilingual sites
If you create language versions of your intranet in a multinational company, don’t expect users to read intranet in ANY other language than their own. They will not come to the global intranet to read your important news. Instead, bring the global, common content to the users’ country intranet. Use the global intranet just as a resource of common content for countries.
6. Don’t divide company news into many different boxes
This applies to sections such as “It news”, “HR news”, and so on. In the era of social media, we have got used to reading everything in long feeds. Would you like to see your Facebook feed divided into ten different boxes? Would you be able to see what’s new today?
7. Create pages instead of documents
Intranet is a webpage – not a folder for documents. Finding information quickly is not possible if the user needs to open the different documents.
8. Use metadata to recommend relevant content for users
If a user is reading a guideline about the summer holidays, why not offer him also the latest news and events concerning holidays?
9. Personalize and let the user choose what he needs
Offer users only the news and the tools that are relevant to him. If you don’t know what users need, let them choose themselves.
10. Give clear roles
All communication channels that are used in your company need a clear role. Today’s intranet cannot be seen as just an intranet – it’s rather a digital workplace with different tools for communication like Yammer and Teams. Don’t create competition between these communication channels and don’t try to desperately keep users in the intranet. If your user’s love to communicate in a social channel like Yammer, why not give Yammer more role by moving the news from intranet to Yammer? Users don’t want to follow too many channels, so bring the information where users want to see it.
I hope you learned a lot and are now much more prepared to create and justify a better intranet information architecture once you have to redo your current structure or start from scratch with a totally new intranet!
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