By Cathy Dew
Done correctly, journey maps can be invaluable in intranet design.
Thoughtfully constructed journey maps encourage information architects and designers to visualize how different types of people might approach the same resources in unique ways. Journey maps provide the ultimate in UX design: a visual manifestation of how future users will likely interact with the site.
Propensities, Predispositions, Points of View
But who are these future users? What are their propensities? How can you possibly know what their predispositions will be to the site you are building? Will they embrace a new intranet as an exciting tool to help productivity? Or will they assume it will be too hard to master? Do your users tend toward skepticism? Whimsy? Are they impatient? Curious? Enthusiastic? Easily overwhelmed?
So how do you build an intranet for different users with different needs and abilities?
Answer: By creating personas that reflect these different points of view.
So What Are Personas?
Personas are detailed profiles of anticipated site users born out of a combination of information architecture research and designer imagination. Personas, which often end up being composites of several similar types of users, help IA designers incorporate user empathy into an otherwise objective design process. By creating these imaginary users, designers can stay focused on UX while working toward realizing the site’s overall objectives.
From a practical standpoint, personas help design teams prioritize content and functionality. While personas might be born out of imagination, the goal is to make them as authentic as possible. And this authenticity starts with an understanding of your user’s role within the context of the organization that is building the intranet. Once you know where the user fits in organizationally, you can move on to researching some of their more subtle and nuanced qualities and characteristics.
Understanding the Organization
Before you can begin to build a user persona, you need to understand where they fit in the organization’s overall scheme.
- If you are creating or refurbishing a company’s employee intranet, you will want to understand the corporate structure. Are employees, managers, and executives segregated by department, by geography, by function? What is the hierarchy and communications chain of command?
- If you are designing for users in a university setting, make sure you have a feel for who the students, faculty, and administrative staff are and why they will be accessing the online resource. Look into the possibility that generational differences could impact use.
- In the case of designing for a nonprofit charitable organization, along with understanding the minds and usage patterns of employees and managers, you should also understand how other potential site users, like volunteers and donors, are likely to interact with the site.
Once you have an idea of the titles and functions of the people that will be using the new intranet, it’s time get to know them better. You can uncover more about them by:
- Observing and/or interviewing a cross-section of the user demographic (e.g., managers, employees, executives).
- Looking for patterns in observations or responses as you begin grouping like people together.
- Translating characteristics of groups into archetypal models
- Creating a persona for each archetype whose unique characteristics could inform design.
Now you’re ready to create personas that resemble real people. Go ahead and give them names and ages; apply key demographics to their characters; and try imagining their motivations, strengths, and limitations.
Think about where they fit on a spectrum of cyber-sophistication. Recognize that some users will be intranet site savvy, while others will be new to some aspects of the technology. Some will have a predisposition to embrace a new internal tool, while others might balk at a change in how some tasks are performed and how information is sorted and disseminated.
Creating intranet user personas before you start designing will help you create better employee experiences with your new intranet tool and beyond. Here's some greate information if you are cersating your own personas, Business Process Analysis Template #3: Personas Keep Your Project On Track and User-centric.
Journey Mapping to Your Next UX Level
Ready to explore how a journey map could take your intranet design project to the next UX level? Go online to schedule a free consultation with our team or call 510-652-7700 today.