We are working on a project to deliver a new intranet as part of a set of effective internal communication and collaboration tools (ICCT) for staff and students. The project includes a Content Design workstream that considers content quality and audience types, and a User Experience workstream analysing user journeys and information architecture.

We’ve just finished a phase of investigating the current intranet and how it’s used (the discovery phase). We started by auditing and mapping all pages to help us visualise the size and structure and discovered almost 2,000 pages. A snippet of the site map is shown below with different colours signifying different levels.

Intranet sitemap snippet

This phase included a detailed analytical review covering how users enter the intranet, how they get around, what they are looking for and how successful they are. We used an online survey as one method to gather data for this – thank you to many of you who took part in this.

We looked at popular intranet search queries to see where search is working well and where it really isn’t.

We also looked at the quality of the content including the most popular pages and their location, use of metadata and alt tags, and readability.

The intranet includes various sites and tools and another part of this discovery phase was to map the journey and experience between different systems. We mapped how the look and feel of the sites changes, which sites have different login, if they open in new tabs and if they are included in the search results.

The phase also included a peer review of other intranet sites, including universities and good examples from other industries.

The detailed findings of each of these reviews will be used in the design phase and content migration planning. We’ve also grouped the findings into a set of high level learnings that we will translate into design principles. Some of the high level learnings might seem obvious but it’s important to include them.

High level learnings

The current intranet site structure is complex and the analytics set-up makes it hard to track complete user journeys.

Most users enter the site through the homepage and have to click 3 levels down to get to the most popular content.

The highest proportion of views and visits are dedicated to staff focused pages and content (e.g HR policies, the Agresso finance system and salary scales).

Intranet usage is mostly desktop unlike other UAL websites and the site is not optimised for mobile usage.

Useful links and quicklinks are very heavily used. The majority of searches are for HR, IT or academic topics. Site search doesn’t cover all the content and it doesn’t always help.

In terms of content quality, more than half of all pages were missing meta descriptions and a third of all images are missing alt text. Top 10% most viewed pages are rated fairly difficult to read using the Flesch-Kincaid reading ease test.

The user experience is disrupted by the transitions between different platforms and tools.

Our next steps will be to agree the design principles for the new intranet and plan the design phase and then content migration.