Consumers have come to expect that devices, websites, and applications will put their needs first.And when this doesn't happen, they take their business elsewhere.
Increasingly, businesses that better satisfy user needs - provide better user experiences - enjoy more bottom-line success
But when those same consumers come to work, everything changes. They're stuck using products such as SAP and Sharepoint, which treat them, at every turn, as though their needs are an afterthought. That’s because employees are captive users. They can’t switch to, say, a competing expense reports provider. So businesses have little obvious reason to spend precious resources, giving them a better experience when using these tools.
The result isn't just a lot of grumbling, it's hours wasted, trying to find and use critical resources such as up-to-date product and procedures info, accurate orgcharts, and IT and HR help services.
It’s no secret that intranets provide some of the worst experiences among intra-enterprise tools.More often than not, a bad intranet is the result of several factors.Most intranets simply evolved from file storage and sharing systems – that’s why so many are based on Sharepoint. These intranets, in the main, were never designed as such. It’s often IT or comms staff who do the design and IA, because no one else Is available. The result, more often than not, is haphazard organization schemes, eyechart-style visual design, and odd workflows.Another issue is lack of content curation. Most intranets aren’t really owned by anyone, so content just sort of piles up, with the old or invalid stuff never looked at, or thrown away. And a lot of content is poorly written to boot, because it’s written not by professional writers, but by so-called “subject matter experts,” for whom writing is often an afterthought.Bad search is another common problem. Intranets often use a search tool that’s buit into the underlying CMS. These tools offer none of the analytical sophistication or power of consumer-standard tools.
The Citrix Intranet, sadly, is no exception.And we found out the details in late 2011, when we did a formal study, to find out what employees thought of it. We list key takeaways here.
Many businesses have revamped their intranets, to deal with these problems. Some trumpet great ROI, as proof that their efforts were successful.We tend to side, though, with the Avenue A/Razorfish view that an intranet should be made to work well, even if that effort is expensive.Sources: ROI figures from Prescient Digital report on intranet ROI, at http://www.prescientdigital.com/articles/return-on-investment-roi/return-on-investment-part-i-measuring-the-dollar-value-of-intranets/ Ave A / Razorfish, Intranet Best Practices, p. 33)
The solution to substandard intranets is, in a way, obvious. Just as we, at Citrix, encourage our employees to use all manner of consumer devices at work, we should give them a consumer sector-caliber experience in using our intranet.But this is easy to say – and indeed, when our CEO asked our team to revamp our intranet, we told him that this was our goal.Actually doing this, though, isn’t so easy.
To createan intranet that gives a consumer-standard experience, we’ve found there are 4 keys to setting up the project for success.
When our CEO asked us to take this project on, we started by sketching a simple, straightforward experience vision.This vision defines what the site will be, and will do, for employees – from the employee perspective.
Then we used this vision to get our CEO’s strong supportWhen our CEO asked us to take on this project, we made sure we had his strong support. We used peer-company and in-company research to outline our goals and define a vision. We got him to announce the project – and tell everyone to help us – in a quarterly all-employee meeting.And when he showed this slide at the meeting, and told us afterward Backstage was the name, we said, “great!”
For a big project such as this one, we knew it was essential both constantly to show momentum, and involve both stakeholders and employees, to ensure we’d have support to keep pushing ahead.So we involved both in an ongoing prototyping project. We created this prototype both to showcase draft designs and get employee feedback on them, and to involve stakeholders in curating content and designing the draft architectures for their respective site sections.
Most intranets are built by IT departments or comms teams, who have some, but not all of the expertise needed to give users a good experience. Designers are rarely involved.To ensure we’d give employees a good experience, we asked for and got the resources we needed, to put experience pros in charge. So at every stage, the project has been driven by designers, writers, and tech specialists who work on consumer-facing products and services. Staffed by members of our Product Design and Marketing groups, our intranet team's members have all honed their skills in an environment where they have to put user needs first, or they'll be out of a job. By putting these folks onto our intranet revamp, our employees can benefit from their expertise.
Setting up for success wasn’t enough.In the course of the Design and Build Phases, we learned several key lessons about how to get from a good plan to a great intranet.
We didn’t just build one prototype – we built several. And we kept iterating, using employee and executive feedback to tweak visual and UX designs, draft IAs, and everything else. Prototyping was super-helpful in 1) helping us quickly try different experiences2) keeping employees excited – we shared our prototypes via Podio, our in-house social network, and in a series of showcase virtual meetings
Like a lot of companies, our employee profile database is a core part of the intranet. And like a lot of places, it leaves a lot to be desired.There’s a lot of old dataThere’s a lot of missing dataAnd sometimes, when you’re looking for someone, you find something that doesn’t even seem to be a profile
In the course of prototyping, we discovered that a lousy profile feature wasn’t just an annoyance – people considered it a big problem.We found out that finding, learning about, and connecting with coworkers is a key employee need.This is in part because Citrix is growing and is more and more widely distributed. A lot of teams are virtual, and to collaborate better, from Day 1, people want to know more about their fellow team members, going in.The lousy profile database makes people turn to LinkedIn and Facebook – somethine we see around the office, and had people tell us about, in research
So in our early prototypes, we created a directory feature that also incorporates data from everyone’s Podio profiles. These are much richer, because people write them themselves, and so tend to care about them more. This mashup director feature was a big hit among testers.
One thing we learned very soon after diving into the build: an intranet revamp is primarily a content revamp. Like many intranets, ours had become a dumping ground for all manner of content. That meant way too much stuff, and often a topic page was simply a glorified – and very long – list of stuff about that topic.Here’s an example: The oldUS benefits page.The key flaws:1) Too much stuff – this could easily be split among multiple pages2) Lack of hierarchical presentation – it’s unclear here, where I should look, since everything is presented in the same size type, and in lists – nothing is clearly shown as more important than anything else3) Lack of progressive disclosure – some of this stuff could be kept on the page, but hidden unless the user requests it via a click
Our first step in tackling the content revamp was putting together a standards and governance doc that draws on our software work, as well as marketing practices.In both areas, there’s a premium on being brief and to-the-point, and always providing both a call to action, and access to help from another source.We also have these professional editors working side-by-side with subject matter experts, to hone content in every section of our site.
We’re taking a “mobile first” approach to our design and build. Employees won’t often use the site on a mobile device. But we don’t want to force them to use any particular device. And in talking to employees, we realize that some mobile use cases are critical. An example is looking up benefits info when you’re in the doctor’s office. Here, especially,our site needs to provide content that’s brief, helpful, and consumable on any device.But not just here.Andby going “mobile first,” we’ve found that we’re forcing our content creators, IAs, and designers to do work that’s always SpareHas a clear visual focusIs always easy to grok, quickly and clearly
Also key is an “agile” approach, and a team that can pull it off, to get our project done on time and on budget.Again we benefit here from the skills of our Web Marketing team, which just came off a complete rebuild of our public facing site – on-time, and on budget, using Agile to get there.An Agile approach is, we believe, particularly useful in a project such as this one. That’s because key stakeholders, such as HR and IT departments, aren’t always used to getting work done on an aggressive timeline. An Agile approach can help them to do this, by breaking everything down into bite-size tasks and making collaboration a priority.
Setting up for success wasn’t enough.In the course of the Design and Build Phases, we’ve found
And we’re on the verge of rolling out the new site, with previews already getting great feedback from employees.HR – by far the biggest section – will come first, in early 2014. IT, Facilities, and the rest of the site will follow, over the course of the year.
And as many of you know, we’re about to roll out the new site.Early previews are already getting great reviews from employees
Newprofiles and comms page are coming online. From the first, everything is both mobile-ready, and customizable, with a wide range of L+F options to choose from
HR will be the first full section rollout, with completion scheduled for early Q4.Then IT, Facilities, and other, smaller sections will follow.The new site will be fully rolled out by late 2014.
Bringing experience into the enterprise - revamping the citrix intranet By: Andrew Day
Bringing Experience Into the Enterprise
Revamping the Citrix Intranet
Citrix Customer Experience Group
Intranets: A Prime Source of Employee Frustration
The Citrix Intranet Is No Exception
• Search doesn’t work
• Much content is
outdated or wrong
• The IA is confusing
• Employee profiles
• It’s easier to ask the
person at the next
desk for help, than to
look for help on the
The ROI Question
• Cisco claims “$25 million ROI” on intranet revamp
• Oracle and GE claim >$1 million ROI
• Avenue A / Razorfish: ROI is irrelevant – an intranet is as
essential as email, so it has to be made to work well
Our Goal: Bring Experience Into the Enterprise